Through The Lens: Our Reunion
If you watched the news last week, it retold the story of the Apollo 11 lunar mission. That was fifty years ago back in July of 1969. That summer’s history changed mankind, as it took him to the surface of the moon. Do you remember the grainy images of Neil Armstrong’s first step as he left the lunar module? Around the world 600 million watched as history was being written. It was the summer of 1969.
Millions watched Armstrong, while back here on earth a group of young people were also taking their first steps into history. Their life’s history. You see, just a few weeks before that lunar event, 145 seniors graduated from Magnolia High School. I was one of those seniors. I’ll bet you may not have known that my class almost didn’t receive their diplomas’ in an official ceremony. Principle George Mullet proclaimed to each of us in a practice ceremony, that if we didn’t settle down he would mail our diplomas. We knew he was only trying to scare us into paying attention to practice. We heeded his warning and a few days later we traded our student status for a new designation, Magnolia Alumni.
In the hallway of the old high school, our class picture was soon hung. We had now taken our place along with all the other senior classes that had gone before us. Each individual’s picture was now behind glass preserving our faces in black and white. The Class of 1969, along with all the others since 1879, now looked towards the next incoming senior class.
After graduation, I was interested in going out into the world and beginning my life. I joined the Air Force and was waiting for my orders to leave for my military training in Texas. For the other members of my class, some found jobs, while others waited to begin college in the fall. We were like a box of kittens being turned lose, we went in all directions. The world and all it had to offer lay ahead of us. Most, including myself never really thought much about leaving friends behind. After spending years together as a group, suddenly we each were out on our own. Friends that you saw every day were now off making their own way in the world. Social groups from school suddenly disappeared. We each were taking our first steps towards the life that lay ahead. Few, if any, paused to look back at our days at Magnolia High School.
Time quickly passed and some class members began building their new life far from the community where they grew up. For others their new path in life never took them far from their hometown. Looking back, school days were fun and carefree in many ways. We didn’t realize that at the moment we became alumni, the world offered many more challenges than we had ever imagined.
The passage of time seems to have come and gone much more quickly than I ever figured in my youth. Back then if I heard someone speak of a class holding its 50th reunion, I figured they were senior citizens. Today, I no longer think of a 50th class reunion being just for old people. That doesn’t happen until their 75th class reunion.
Last weekend, the class of 1969 returned for its 50th reunion. For some of my classmates, they have returned faithfully each year to reminisce about old times and renew friendships long ago put on hold. I will have to admit that in all those years I have only attended three reunions. I always said that when my 50th comes around, I want to be sure and attend while I am still young. Who knows, when my 75th comes around Mary may hide my walker and I would not be able to attend.
Last Friday night, I traveled to the Lewis Wetzel family Center to a reunion that I had waited fifty years to attend. I wondered, would people remember me with my snow white hair and bushy mustache?
Had I grown taller and a little wider? Even more important, would I remember the names of my classmates? I feel so embarrassed when someone comes up to me and knows my name and I haven’t a clue as to their name. Usually I fake it and play along until I figure out who they are. Mary tells me to just ask, she says that there is no harm in forgetting a namea face.or a high school friendship.
It didn’t take long until old friendships were renewed and stories of their new lives were shared. Tom Wolfe wrote a book titled “You Can’t Go Home”. I am not sure about the story in Wolfe’s book, but for me my 50th reunion was a chance to go home and visit with old classmates.
Stories and lives not shared last weekend will now have to wait another year to once again be shared with old friends, Through the Lens.