It is oftentimes at reunions that we remember our connections to others, ties that bind, a unity that cannot be broken.
Last weekend, many former classmates and I celebrated 50 years since graduating with the Portville class of 1969. We came into the world at approximately the same time. We shared impressions of teachers and others who made up our world. We were part of a community within a community, our little school at Portville Central.
Some of us celebrated and celebrated. An easy to gain and hard to lose 10 pounds must have been packed onto my frame with all the meal gatherings I took part in. My wallet lost some weight but it was worth it. The occasion was good for local businesses, too.
On Thursday, a small group of us met at Angees since one classmate came in for lunch but had to fly to California the next day. That evening, two of my local friends and I met another who flew in from Florida. She was also maid of honor at our wedding. We met at Applebee’s and were still talking and laughing by the end of the server’s shift.
Friday morning, a good mix of classmates converged in the back of Sprague’s, filling two tables. We had to flit back and forth like little flies in order to capture conversations. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in the whole 50 years. I learned of things such as one fellow’s service in Vietnam. I didn’t know he had been there, but this was 1969. “Our era” and years that followed graduation marked an active time for historical events.
We talked of families, jobs, unfortunate health issues—and the loss of more classmates than we had realized. When the talk turned to snakes and other reptiles, I kind of tuned out. This is not my favorite subject, but one classmate and her husband provide a legal safe haven for the creatures. A few in attendance were unable to go to the actual alumni dinner so it was a great way to get reacquainted.
Friday night, 27 of our classmates and some guests made up five tables at Good Times for the PCS annual alumni dinner. The class of 1979 behind us filled several tables, and there were representatives from earlier years. Our only complaint was the acoustics. We had a hard time hearing the speakers. When our class herded to another room for a photo to mark the occasion, the photographer dove into a shot. She was with us until her sophomore year and was excited to see us.
Some weren’t ready to part so moved on to the Portville Legion for the street dance. It was crowded and loud so our small group never found the rest of our classmates who said they were going. We were surprised the band didn’t at least make concession for us old folks and play some ’60s hits, but I didn’t hear any. I also had the misfortune of tripping over an orange cone and falling flat-out on the pavement. Fortunately, I threw my purse up and that’s where my face landed. I have new bruises on top of old now, but nothing broken, thankfully.
On Saturday, a few of us met in Pioneer Park for Heritage Days and others soon came along. Four of us sat with a yearbook while a knowledgeable classmate shared where everyone was and what they were doing. We took part in the annual alumni shot at the bandstand and some toured the school.
That night, I joined my friend from Florida for dinner. She had to eat at Beef N Barrell before she left! Then Sunday, we rode around together in her rental car. We visited her elderly aunt and drove around Cuba Lake looking for where the old amusement park used to be, not that easy with all the new houses on the shore. We had spent countless hours in the pavilion for jamborees when my mother and her father were in a country group that performed there.
We talked about what we didn’t know about life that even 10-year-olds know now. Just as at breakfast we thought of the fun we had even without electronics with lots of bike riding and time in the woods. The only rule was be home in time for dinner.
When she brought up how much money we could make if we still had our Beatles cards, my mind went to an old scrapbook I know is still in a box upstairs somewhere. I’m going to have to take a look. If I find any and they are worth a fortune, I’ll have to share the proceeds because of her reminder.
Some people have bad memories of school and avoid their class reunions, but I believe most people mellow. Everyone I met seemed friendly and excited to be there. I’m just sorry the milestone years don’t happen more often, drawing people back home again to revisit the ties that bind people together.
(Contact contributor Deb Wuethrich at firstname.lastname@example.org.)