As July approaches, I am filled with elation! Another class reunion coming together. The opportunity to visit with old friends and rehash old stories which have been elaborated upon until then nearly have no truth left in them. To see old flames and foes. To heal old wounds and span burned bridges.
This time around, one of our classmates bought a golf course (I should be so lucky) with a wonderful banquet area. There is to be a scramble for anyone who would like to play and I do believe there will be activities for those who don’t play golf also. Perhaps some card or board games. Evening we will all get together for dinner within the banquet room.
My husband, Bob, has volunteered to take individual photos as each graduate enters. This way, we will have a current photo of the “student” which can then be coupled with their graduation photo. A “before” and “after”, if you will. This was, those who are not astute enough to recognize their former classmates can backtrack and recall our high school “look”. (that look wasn’t always the best…)
We have lost a few of our classmates since the last reunion, and found a few old friends as well. As ever, within a small graduation class, people fell into cliques. There were the “jocks” elusive, non responsive to anyone other than their chosen friends or girl friend. However, with jocks it’s sort of a seasonal exclusivity. If the jock only participated in football, he was the “it” thing only at the onset of the school year. Play basketball and you had a key into the center of the school year. Track, golf, baseball caught the last portion of the year.
Kalkaska Public High School, class of 1973. The largest graduating class to that time, all 130 of us. Everyone knew everyone. Most were related. In a town that size, with that few kids, going to the prom with your cousin didn’t really denote a nerd. It just meant the two of you didn’t have anyone outside the family and you wanted to go dance! However, having moved to the town when I was 10, and no relatives other than immediate family in the area, I was a rare commodity. Too bad I didn’t realize it at the time, I may have capitalized on it.
In a town the size of Kalkaska, most young people participated in all sports or no sports. Or at least most sports or no sports. In high school I participated in girls basketball, powder puff football, and was a cheerleader. I also grew up twenty-five miles from town.
I had a beau who said I lived in “the giggly weeds”. I liked him a lot! Growing up that far from town, I never had first date show up on time. Each and every one of them got lost and/or stuck in the snow drift at the end of our dead end street. I would be dressed “to the nines” hear a car whizzing past the house and get out my snow suit. On a dead end street, twenty-five miles from town, driving faster than a dead end street allows, I knew it was my “intended”. My family sure gave me the hu-ha about how smart my fellas were. I married the first young man to find my house without me pushing his car out of the mud or snow. (probably wasn’t the best way to select a spouse…we are no longer married)
Kalkaska Public High School had never had a female class president before. I don’t know why, I really never did anything. The Vice President was asked to give the speech at graduation. They really should have selected me instead, I wouldn’t have been nearly as outspoken politically as Keith was. As the Senior president, the only real responsibility carried with it is making sure the class reunions happen. And I do.
This particular reunion we have found a few people. One in particular, we actually were told by a relative that he was dead. Imagine my surprise when he contacted me via Facebook. Only to have him violate my trust and harass my friends through Facebook.
Another high school chum didn’t contact me directly, but via another classmate we obtained her address. She has had a difficult life. No family. Thinking she had no friends never reached out to us for help. Silly girl. I am pretty certain by the time you hit twenty, any pettiness from high school gets left there as you drive by. There were at least fifty of us she could have turned to for help and any one or all of us would have been at her side immediately. Back when we paid for each and every call, I spent nearly $200.00 looking for her. I called everyone with her last name in the three states I thought she lived in. Hiding.
High school is the launching pad. It is where you learn to judge the disposition of those you would entwine your life with. If you have not met any neer do wells, you will become prey. If you have not met the bully, you will not understand negotiation. If you have not met the siren, you won’t understand the abused for that is what/who the siren is. In a small school like Kalkaska the microscope is up front and personal. Every walk of life is presented almost in caricature simply because there are so few people to wear all the “shades” of personality.
Kalkaska Public High School had the first married football player. He had to sue in order to gain the right to play football his senior year. Ed and Dawn are still married. Prior to Ed’s law suit, if you got married while still attending school, you only attended school. Dawn was expected to leave school when she began to “show”. Times have certainly changed.
Within a small town, people fall into the categories of personality; bossy, sheepish, doer, thinker, busybody, clown, addict. Each of us has played these rolls to some extent, in a small town the extent is magnified simply because there is no one else within that personality. From the small town persona, to high school graduation, through life. When you meet again with your “classmates” you fall back into the persona you thought you left behind. Whether you want to or not. Some, who have not left the small town are saddled with whatever persona they were wearing upon graduation. It’s a difficult unspoken “label” to shed.
My job as president is to reside over the reunion. I talk, shake hands, dole out hugs, reintroduce, console and cajole my old classmates. My job is to make certain everyone is felt welcome and safe. My job is to make certain they all take only good memories back home with them. My job is to make certain the memories of high school get elaborated on enough that there is sometimes very little truth about them, but they are good to feel again. I help heal the old wounds and span those burned bridges. I am filled with elation.