One of the two high schools I attended had its 70th reunion on Saturday. My old school friend, Nancy, whom I reconnected with nine years ago at our other high school reunion, picked me up and we were off – first to St. John’s Church for a Mass and then Notre Dame High School across the schoolyard for the meat of the reunion – mixing, mingling and re-connecting.
Gee, I got it wrong. More mixing and mingling happened inside the church before the Mass started. As Nancy and I walked into the church, I stared at people’s faces. One lady from my tine had a name tag on but I thought it read the name of a deceased classmate. She soon set that record straight, coming up to me and telling me I walked right passed her. I didn’t want to mention the death part. I had merely forgotten her married name and the “J” of her first name looked like an “H.”
More former classmates from my year (’66 for those who are curious) popped up and we did some reminiscing and reconnecting over the pews after we sat down. The Mass itself had readers from former principals, teachers and students – including one family doing one reading session. That was interesting but I didn’t quite catch the significance of the priest’s sermon focusing on incidents from his grade school days. Notre Dame High is an all girls’ school. His sermon was much too long as was the whole Mass. I was itching to get over to the school and do some more reconnecting.
We almost didn’t make it thanks to the extreme wind, blowing umbrellas inside out and threatening to have some of us do an impromptu Mary Poppins imitation (minus the singing). However, once inside and signed in, I added a name tag to my two “back then” school photos pinned to my sweater so people could recognize me.
I shouldn’t have bothered. Nancy and I reconnected with one student from our time, who also went to our grade school and we saw a few of those we’d already talked to in the church. I actually reconnected with one gal I met at an alumni gathering two years ago. Carmel is a 1975 grad, so after my time, but I introduced her to Nancy and the three of us had fun reminiscing.
What was also interesting was checking out the classrooms and seeing their contents now. I can’t remember which rooms were my actual homerooms, but some of these classrooms had the trimmings of classes we never had – drama, music, a chapel, and four rooms with computers. Mind you, most of the computers had the old “fat” monitors. The auditorium still doubles as the gym, although the changing room has moved from the equipment supply room off the auditorium, to a a small classroom across the hall.
As one of the volunteers phoning old classmates, I expected a better turnout of 60s students, but the 50s and 70s had us beat by a long shot. Mary, one of my other classmates doing some of the phoning said, “I had trouble persuading most of them to come.” Even the one who said, “yes,” didn’t show up. No wonder I kept staring at faces and name tags and kept wondering why many of the faces weren’t familiar. Many of the ones I knew just weren’t present.
So what is the purpose of all this reminiscing? The reconnection with old classmates (emphasis on the “old”) helps me connect the past with the present. Not only do I solve my journalistic curiosity (oh heck, let’s be honest – nosiness), I can get some answers, maybe some peace about anything that happened back then that might be bothering me. Looking into the classrooms and talking with my old classmates, I realized that these were special times – not perfect, but times to be cherished.
However, I wouldn’t want to go through them all again. Maybe seeing more old classmates would be a good idea.
I hear Notre Dame is having a 75th anniversary reunion. In the meantime, this reunion (and any school reunion) you or I attend, does present fodder for writing your memoir.
More on this aspect next week.
Meantime, I ‘d like to hear about your school reunion – if you’ve ever gone to one.
Only Child Writes