Age, the Great Equalizer

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

The good thing about your 50-year high school reunion coming around is that Father Age has visited not only you, but everyone else in attendance. You recognize your closest friends because you’ve seen them at other reunions, or maybe visited them during your travels. But it really takes a while before you recognize who most classmates are. Of course, once a person starts talking, they are “revealed”, sometimes with memories of how you knew each other.

The prettiest people are still fairly good looking, but they don’t stand out so much, and may have a paunch just like yours. Thanks to Facebook, you know a tidbit or two about a few folks – in my case, i.e., a friend from the church of my youth now, in his retirement, posts wonderful paintings he started doing ten years ago. He joins a number of us who were sort of funny looking at age 18, and who now just look INTERESTING, in a good way! As I looked around, most of the people I was curious about were people I hardly knew existed back in 1966.

This wasn’t the kind of weekend where you get into depth about your lives, at least not at the scheduled activities. For one thing, we convened both Friday and Saturday nights at the newly renovated (I am not kidding) Hotel Tallcorn , which was recently refurbished and quite elegant but with dreadful acoustics. We could scarcely hear each other above the din, and I believe the most asked question of the weekend was “Where do you live now?” because it was short and recognizable via lip reading.

Most of the highlights of my weekend were not on the agenda:

– hanging out with best friend and her husband, since we’d visited them two years ago. This was (my) Husband’s first time accompanying me to a reunion, so it was nice there was at least one person he knew.

– watching their dog play Frisbee  : )

– climbing the Observation Tower at Grimes Farm, with a wonderful overview of an intersection of town and farmland, with the historic County Courthouse spire in the misty distance. Rolling farmlands were never prettier.

If I hadn’t gone to this reunion, I’d be forever wondering whom and what I had missed. I still missed a lot of folks I had hoped to see, so it is probably my last reunion – if they didn’t come to the Big One, they probably won’t be at the next.

What would it take to get to a 50-year reunion?

 

 

 

 

 

67 thoughts on “Age, the Great Equalizer”

  1. My 50th comes up May 2017 and I am planning to go. I’ve not spent time there since my folks died in 2000 and even before that seldom saw people with whom I went to HS.
    It is a small Swedish (Little Sweden USA) Kansas town that had us moving ther in ’56 when my dad took w teaching/chaplaincy position at the Lutheran college, Bethany. So from 2nd grade thru HS I ‘grew up’ there. Brief hiatus…spent my college years there ending with a BFA. Our daughter graduated from Bethany…we were in CA then CO at the time. She married there in the same church were she was baptized to a fellow Bethany grad. We were now here in MN. My trips back were either to see my parents or her and dispite the small town I rarely saw any friends…or made time to see them.
    I went to our 10 year reunion…50 years will be quite a change. Seventy in my graduating class and about 5 dead. Hard to guess how many will return, but I look forward to the weekend. I will DEFINATELY be studying the yearbook for names….I’m terrible with names. So ‘tho faces and bodies will have changed I will be prepared to pull out some names if only to guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Someone holding a loaded gun to my head.

    I went to my 6-year reunion (how’s that for an apathetic class? Couldn’t even get enough collective energy to organize a 5-year!). Also the 20th, then realized there are no people whom I wish to see from high school. I wasn’t a very social person. Classic introvert here.

    Had my band geek friends, a few soccer buds, and my “harem” (4 girls who were platonic friends. We “bombed around” on weekends our senior year, but that was it. Except one of those friends became my wife, which is probably why we don’t keep in touch with the others any more–might be a bit awkward.)

    Chris in O-town

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    1. Your post, Chris, reminds me of my thinking when I chose to ignore my 40th reunion. As I debated going, I realized that the reunion would attract exactly the people I worked so hard to avoid when I was a kid and would not appeal to the folks (fellow introverts, mostly) whom I would enjoy seeing again.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s probably why I don’t attend. Most who go there seem to need some sort of validation that they have “succeeded” since so many people seem to see high school as the high point of their lives.

        I’m sure others attend reunions out of some more or less morbid curiosity about seeing what everyone else looks like, comparing themselves (positively or negatively) and valueing themselves compared with the small group of people we were all stuck with in high school. Well, I was stuck with 800+ other classmates, so–not so small of a group. 😉

        Just always thought reunions were sort of a forced jocularity or comradery just because we all had a high school in common.

        I’m rambling. It’s late. Never mind.

        Chris in Owatonna (which seems to be big time into class reunions. The damn class of 1956 seems to have monthly reunions!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My 50th reunion happened a few years ago, so I know just what it took to get me to go. I dreaded it. But a friend, Mike Biery, urged me to come. Mike and played together when we were growing up in Ames in the 1940s. He and his mom took me to my first State Fair in 1953. I last saw Mike when we graduated high school in 1960. Mike wrote before the reunion to plead with me to come. He had been fighting cancer for years. Mike told me that his doctor had run out of weapons to use against the cancer, so he had less than a year to live. He wanted to come to the reunion all the way from Portland, OR, where he lived. But he needed to hear that I would be there.

    Mike is one of the sweetest men I’ve known. Against my preferences, I went down for the reunion. And it was good to see Mike. He is now gone.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My daughter moved to Portland after graduating from a college near Seattle. She loved Portland but was unable to land a decent job. What began as a scary issue eventually morphed into a crisis. She ended up meeting Mike, my old friend, who worked his tail off trying to get Molly hired by the organization he worked for. It didn’t pan out, but it always pleased me that Mike and my daughter met and became friends. He was a sweet guy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I missed my 40th this year, as we were just returned from Europe. Husband graduated from North High in Sheboygan WI. He refuses to go to any of his reunions, as they are always held at the American Club in Kohler WI. He has ideological problems supporting the Kohler Corporation, as they mounted machine guns on the roof of the factory in the 1934 to intimidate strikers. I suppose if they held it somewhere else he might go.

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  5. Hi —

    I’ve gone to a most of my reunions; 10, 20 and 30. Missed the 25 I think. 35 is coming up next year and some of the planners think it should be out at our farm.
    I’m not completely opposed to that…but there are some logistics to work out. And it would be good to have Kelly on-board with that.

    I was on the planning for the 20th. I like talking with people. But I don’t expand too far outside my circle. I may end up with the same 2 friends that I always hang out with for most of the night. Because I’m bashful that way. (I can too, be ‘bashful’ and ‘like talking w/ people’ at the same time…)
    I had a class of 425. A third attend reunions.

    Kelly graduated w/ 25. Her reunions are a keg and bonfire in someones back yard. And they’re more fun in a different way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It would be interesting to be in on the planning, Ben. I’ve spoken to classmates I run into around town who don’t go because they can’t afford to pay for the fairly pricey dinner, etc., and would have liked to be part of the coordinating group.

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  6. I debated going to my 50th. It was held here in the twin cities, so getting there wouldn’t have been an issue. There was always the possibility that one of those few I would actually like to see again would show up, the chance of that being slim in that they had never come to a reunion before.
    The clincher came about a month before the event. Out of a graduating class of about 800, only 80 had signed up. The organizing committee, made up, of course, of people with treasured high school memories, decided to post the names of those who would be attending on the class website. I think they expected that would be an incentive.
    The list was a who’s who of the usual suspects- the ones who always come to reunions. I had seen them all 5 years ago when, oddly, my class had a 45-year reunion. This year, as then, none of my hoped-for people were coming. So what would be the point?
    Though not an embracing or especially celebratory experience, that 45-year reunion was interesting in a sociological sense. Despite being the same age, physically the classmates ran the gamut from fairly intact to dead. Some of the more prosperous women had had work done, I think. But what I found most interesting was discovering through conversation with former classmates what they remember about you. It’s almost never what you expect they would remember and it often stems from some event you consider insignificant. From a distance of 40 or 50 years you can sometimes get unvarnished perceptions of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Remotely possible, I suppose, but these are people who have never come to a reunion in 50 years, people so disconnected with high school that they no longer appear on the list of missing classmates.

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        1. When the mailed list of classmates attending or not, which I did not want, started to include phone numbers and email addresses, including mine, I told them to remove me from the list, which they did. About 12-14 years ago. I did not answer the only two emails that came, or even read them. A couple years ago, I got friend requests on facebook. Two I accepted for a week or so. From classmates I hardly knew with interesting stories. So maybe I should go to class reunions or keep making fb friends to find those people.
          I find my former close friends have little interest in conversing with me by any means, electronic or face to face. One of those friends is scary conservative and wealthy, the only classmate with whom I have tried to make contact in the last 20 years, which was refused. One has become pretentious. Two have died. The others apparently have, like me, skipped every reunion.
          My class was and is full of astoundingly awful people, such as a former very bigoted sheriff.
          My senior year ended with a bad incident, in which I was implicated, incorrectly. Not worth explaining.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. When I attended my 50th college reunion I encountered proof of Bill’s assumption that the people who go to reunions are mostly not the people you enjoyed in school. And I was struck by an oddity. Virtually every man at the reunion had gray or white hair. My memory is that no woman attendee had gray or white hair. Obviously, the women who went were using something from a bottle to look young. That made me wonder about the hair of those women who didn’t show up.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I skipped my 40th reunion, which was held about a month ago. It was a river cruise, which seemed risky to me, since you can’t just get off the boat and go home if you’re not having a good time. Quite honestly, though, I don’t think I would have gone even if I had been assured an emergency escape route. The whole idea just doesn’t have much appeal. Count me among the introverts.

    To me, it would be more fun to have reunions of people from various workplaces, where the groups would be smaller, and I’d remember people better. High school is too distant.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My friend Mike Biery (mentioned in two previous posts) told an interesting story about attending the 40th reunion of our high school class. There was a guy in that class whom Mike and I both detested. Let’s just say Steve R was a bully and egotistical jerk. I’d like to use more colorful language. Mike traveled a long way to the reunion because he hoped to see that Steve R had done badly in life. Almost the first person Mike saw at the reunion was Steve R. He was slim, arrogant and apparently affluent. Mike turned around and flew right back to Oregon.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just remembered another reunion story. I wasn’t there for this one. My friend Tessie went to the 30th reunion with her husband, a really handsome guy several years younger than Tessie.

        That provoked Steve R to ask in a loud voice, “How in hell can YOU be married to him?”

        Tessie answered, “You never had the chance to find out in high school, but I am that good in bed!”

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy Valley Steve….I had an opposite happening at my 10th. I hoped to see Sandy arrive looking good and holding her own. She was always teased (stuffed Kleenex in her bra) was poor so not new classy clothes and just didn’t have many friends…she was not just shy, she felt inferior. Yet she was a beautiful girl inside and out.
    She did arrive with her new wealthy husband on her arm looking like the gorgeous gal she always was. It was kind of like seeing the making of the ‘Cinderella’ princess and she held court so-to-speak. I was thrilled for her.
    So sometimes the underdog story has a happy ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My wife, Homecoming Queen, beneath whose picture in the yearbook it said, “The girl everybody loves,” has been to two reunions and hated them both. She went to a school that had clubs, which stratified the social structure of the class. At her twenty year reunion, the point at which they asked spouses not to attend, people were assigned to sit with their club. Sandy left early and angry about it. She went tot the fifty year reunion, again no spouses, which only about 40 of 350 classmates attended. She went under pressure from her cousin, in her class. At it were a few classmates whom she talks to or sees very often, and classmates she knew nothing about.
    Neither of my children will attend their reunions. Both are in regular contact with those classmates who they care about.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. i go and enjoy the reunions. i have made most of them. the classof 900 is down to 50 or so attending but i always see 4 or 5 i enjoy and meet up with 3 or 4 i am surprised i enjoy because i ddnt know them well before,.
    high school was so odd tha tfolks all their personna of the moment and then you get on with your lie. everyone has gone through a bunh of stuff and it is always interesting to be ther fo the moment.
    the last one was good and i was involved in making it a 25 dllar get together at buck hill in the chalet. fire pit and meeting room was all we had lined up. the bar and the conversations was the extent of the shindig.
    since then i think i have been in contat with 20 or 30 of the folks form the evening and i look forward to the next one. i was lucky. no real jerks, a couple o politically uninformed bafoons but that happens. i feel bad for the ones that dont come ecause they wanted to be presented as a sucess, heck as you have said sucess makes a jerk out of some people. our stil rich guy is real nice. we have a weirdo who is a bit scary who made and lost his dough (not me… a different one)
    its amazing that everyone is about the same after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “the bar and the conversations was the extent of the shindig.” – this is the most fun for me, the first night when you just mill around and stay as long as you want talking to people. For my money, that would be enough right there.

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  13. My class of about 175 kids has held reunions every 5 years since graduating and I have been to exactly one. High school was definitely not a high point of my life – the class was divided into cliques. I was part of the popular group through junior high but was rather viciously kicked out in 10th grade. Luckily I found a much nicer group of friends – some of whom I still keep in touch. But I have had no real desire to attend a reunion over all these years. Last year was our 45th (and the first one to not be held at the local VFW – instead was at a nice restaurant located on a local lake). Several of my high school friends and I decided maybe it was time to go as we have lost nearly 20 class members already and none of us is getting younger. There was a good turnout and I had a surprisingly good time. Some of the popular clique were there and I spoke briefly with a few of them. I spent much more time talking with classmates whom I didn’t really hang out with during high school and whom I hadn’t seen since graduation. I might be tempted to go to our 50th in 2020.

    OT: It has now been two weeks since surgery to put my fractured femur back together. There has been great progress in my ability to ambulate with a walker, put weight on the affected leg, take care of getting dressed/cleaned up/etc. I am living at my sister’s house in south Mpls as my condo is a second floor walkup (15 open steps). I can manage steps fairly well using handrails but haven’t yet figured out how to do it while carrying my walker up and down as well. The doctor and physical therapist are pleased with my progress. It is getting boring with not much to do at the house besides my exercises, reading, watching TV, and cleaning up my computer files. Should be able to drive in another 10 days or so – maybe by then I won’t be so dependent on the walker.

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  14. OT Liam note. Fans of this blog will probably remember my post about a stuffed toy I keep in my bedroom, a little dog that was created by my father. My dad called this stuffed dog “Cheer Up” because it has such a tragic expression. It was the first huge commercial success of his career as a designer of stuffed toys.

    My daughter and Liam visited me a week ago. While I was on the computer, Liam brought the Cheer Up dog to me. He asked, “Why is this dog so sad?”

    I explained by telling the story of how my father saw this dog in a dream. Upon waking, he created a stuffed toy that looked like the dog he’d seen in the dream.

    While I didn’t say so, I was impressed by my grandson. I wonder how many six-year-old boys would be touched by a stuffed toy that looks sad?

    Moments later I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Liam was playing with another small stuffed toy in my bedroom, a little gray koala bear that was given to me by friends who live in New Zealand.

    “There!” said Liam. He had moved the koala bear, plopping it down right in front of Cheer Up, the two stuffed toys looking at each other nose to nose, not an inch apart. “Now he has a friend.”

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    1. The same is true for me, but I look on the bright side of it. Without medical appointments, I’d have no social life at all. My best friend in Oregon is one of my nurses. Medical appointments oblige me to get out of my apartment now and then, and that’s a good thing!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the last month I have made 11 medical visits of various kinds, tests, imaging, doctors, PT. I know have that many scheduled for next month for three differnet issues. Trying to track irt all.

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        1. So . . . 11 medical visits in four weeks? That’s close to my average. As for tracking them, when I leave a visit I am given a printout that includes the next visit; then I get a notice of the next visit on my online medical chart; then I get a phone call reminding me.

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    1. Good question to ask, Clyde. I biked to the Farmers Market, then to an annual sidewalk sale at a nearby bookstore – paperback exchange type… tons of books at a quarter each, and hardcovers for a buck. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    2. I got some stuff done outside this morning. Then the afternoon was working a concert. Larry Long and Kent Nerburn and a program called ‘Red Roads and Blue Highways’. It was very good. I’d seen Larry years ago when he played a local folk festival at a local theater. This event was good; had a couple extra musicians with him plus Kent reading from his books.
      http://www.larrylong.org/
      He’s got some TC concerts coming up. One to celebrate his 65th Birthday!
      Daughter had a ‘thing’ tonight so Kelly and I had a date; supper outside downtown Rochester and it was very pleasant.

      Enjoy tomorrow too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. i have heard lary long twice, once at the guthrie yars ago as a warm up for someone really good ( james taylor maybe) and once at a folk festival thing maybe 20 years later.

        at the guthrie he was not good… not bad just not good. he was not on pitch which is a prerequisite for singing in my world and the songs may or may not have been good, i couldnt get past the vice in the tank. the second time i saw him he was fine.
        i hope he was good for your event. he seems like a sincere community good sort of folkie and i think we need as many of those as can be found

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    3. i had a full full day

      in laws in from chcago (difficult) so i went on my errand running misions.
      daughters both had different homecoming activites planned. daughter who is a senior had theater class this morning and had to leave in time to get to the picture taking session at one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. so i got to stand there and shoot candid photos. everyone else gets em lined up and says say cheese. i come up with 500 odd ball photos and odd angles seeing as the can tget the front and center shots form anone who is there shooting the same line up over there and bend oyur knees so we can see the people in back shots.
      second daughter is the one who is into makeup and style her day was a bit more errand based with the need to go get her makeup done, a run to the park where her pictures were being done and arrangements for the overnight at the afterparty.
      they had a party bus (started out small but the other kids wanted in and it turned into a joke ) 50 kids 30 of wihich were not friends wanted to be included and the high maintanence parents who insist that the bus they invited themselves to run by their agenda.
      the grandparents came along to the photo shoots and stod there not understaanding why we needed so many photos. i guess its a millenniel thing. not a roll of 36 exposures and the choice being panatonic or kodachome now its 1000 shots and figure it out later. black and white, sepia tone, colors with muted tomnes or lite it up with bright contrast. photography is not photography anymore. its app experimantation. it used to be an art for tacticians now its a button that says im bfeeling lucky that deternes the norm for most people. kind of like the kodal instamatic in the 60’s .

      then on to the best buffet in town (q cumbers) and home for the second dog walk of the perfect day. ill be getting back out again today.

      hey has anyne heard form mig? m car is about to bite the bullet and i am thinking of her because my car may be the parts car for hers. mine only has 300k on it. there is still life left in those honda parts

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    4. Yesterday, I met a friend at a coffee shop in town, then rested by the Lake (also rested on the bed for a bit); ran an errand to get my laptop charged (long story); then – what else? – took pictures by Jonvick Creek. Ended the day by looking at the stars over Lake Superior; tried taking pictures of them, we’ll see how they turn out, it was a little tricky setting things up in the dark, especially trying to manually focus on the sky when I couldn’t see anything through the viewfinder.

      Today I drove down the shore as far as Duluth and decided to stay overnight, then get up at the crack of dawn to drive back in time to babysit those twins. So now I’m sitting on the deck at my sister’s house, staring out at the St. Louis River, enjoying the sunshine and feeling lazy….

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    1. there is no cbs sunday mrning this week. cbs got the broadcast rights to the one football game broadcast from europe this week.
      charles os=good retired last week and the new jane pauly version starts next week

      i really dont like the nbc equivillent. the head guy is a wanna be hard ass. grilling rudy gullianni is like beting a handicapped man. rudy attacks bill clintons infidelity and then when the interviewer points out that rudy had some infidelity issues of his own rudys response was ” every on e had those issues and i dont appreciate your bringing my personal life into this” rudy there is a reason you have been out of work for 20 years.
      cbs sunday morning is the right way to start sunday. rudy is not.

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