Recalling reunions past
Certainly, I have always enjoyed class reunions. I guess what I enjoy most is keeping up with old friends and remembering times long past. This is important to me since I have been gone from Garnett for decades and I no longer have relatives living there.
A few weeks ago, Jean and I went back for my 55th class reunion. There were many there that I did not recognize until I saw their nametags. Of course, many did not recognize me, and partly since I arrived in a wheelchair!
At the first few reunions, we talked about careers, jobs and babies. Then the favorite topic at later gatherings was grandchildren, and now discussions centered on great-grandchildren and illness. Sadly, there were many who had passed away. I wondered where the years had gone. It seemed like yesterday when we started our senior year in 1954.
We were excited about football and looking for a great season. I was a 155-pound center and our starting tackles weighed 190 pounds. Now we all weigh a lot more and definitely have less hair.
I noticed there is not the pretense that used to exist at reunions. At the five- and 10-year reunions, some classmates tried to make tremendous and, sometimes, overstated impressions. There were those who bragged about education and careers. Some brought beautiful dates and drove expensive automobiles.
By the 15th or 20th reunion, things started to change. I remember how shocked I was to hear that a classmate had died after a long battle with cancer. I performed in high school plays with her and I found it hard to believe she was gone. Her death made us think about our own mortality.
We also began to see new spouses arriving on the scene. Yes, the national tragedy of divorce had hit the class of 1955.
Things began to change by the 30th and 40th reunions. People had settled into a routine of life. Careers were advancing and talk centered around family. Now, people talked about the successes of their children and grandchildren. We reminisced about athletic success and it was fun, even if we didn’t remember the details quite correctly. In this case, a few embellishments were undoubtedly added.
The 50th reunion was the biggest of our class history. We had classmates return who had never been at a previous reunion. We remembered the past and how great a class we had been. We talked about Saturday movies, cruising the square and driving around the Garnett Lake. Of course, in those days driving wasn’t expensive since gasoline cost only 21 cents per gallon.
We laughed about old pranks and some of the culprits actually fessed up. We enjoyed our favorite songs of the past, including the music of Pat Boone, The Lettermen, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and many others.
The class was honored during graduation ceremonies at Anderson County High School. Privately there was complaining about changing the name of the high school from Garnett to Anderson County.
Unfortunately, the 55th reunion was a bit more somber, as we had lost more classmates. There were some melancholy moments, as several pointed out their spouses had passed away since we last met. But on the other hand, a couple of women announced second marriages and one 73-year-old wondered if she qualified as a “cougar” since she was marrying a 70-year-old man. After we were through, we took a class photo on the courthouse steps, which was a challenge for me and several others.
We decided to meet again in three years because we didn’t want to wait too long. Yes, I plan on being there for that reunion.
NOTE: This marks another first for me on the long road back from my stroke. This is the first column I’ve typed myself. Earlier ones were dictated to Jean. I am well back on the road to recovery.