Sunday, April 28, 2013

Class Reunions - Bishop Kenny 50th!

OMG, it’s coming and coming soon! Next weekend my high school class is getting together for our 50th reunion. I can’t believe it, there is no way that it has been 50 years since we walked out in our caps and gowns free at last to take on the world. I can remember that day like it was yesterday, even better than I remember my college graduation.

For a lot of people, class reunions are a love / hate event; so much angst wondering how you are going to stack up in against your classmates. Not me, I love our reunions, my classmates were so much fun in school and they are even more fun now as adults. I think the secret of our not falling into the uncomfortable reunions is that we did not have any until our 15th. By that time we had matured and were all pretty much comfortable in our own skins. Our 15th was a grand affair; a one evening event where everybody got all dressed up to the nines and gathered in the ballroom in the Prudential building overlooking the St. John’s River. The place was huge and the night magical. There was a stage and a DJ who was playing all the hits from the 60s. During the evening, he started playing “name that tune” for drink tickets. Naturally, I had an unfair advantage from my radio days, and soon won more tickets than I could ever use. I was pretty popular that evening.

From that first one until now, the class had a reunion every five years, we never missed one. One of the great joys of my life was to go back home and catch up on my childhood friends’ lives. Such great careers they had; teachers, lawyers, nurses, salespeople, data processing analysts, counselors, engineers, nuns, DJs, even a secret service agent and the president of a national food company, we did it all. The stories we share are interesting and exciting. It is more than the jobs, families, kids and later grandkids; it is about lives being well lived.

There is a core group of friends in the class that have been with me since kindergarten, eight or ten of us. We know each others' families; brothers, sisters and parents, so time is spent with them finding out what is going on in everybody’s lives, remembering the good, and the not so good times. It is a celebration of life. As I look at their faces that now show the passage of time, I see them as they were at age 5 and at age 17 in the prime of their youth. I see the guys out on the playground or ball field with the fire of sports competition in their eyes. The girls are on the bus in the morning, or in the classroom (in grade school at least, we were in separate classes in high school) or at parties with sunlight in their hair and a smile on their faces. I see it even today despite the slight wrinkle or tinge of grey. I see their hearts and souls too; just as full of life and fun as they were in high school. They have seen births and deaths, droughts and hurricanes, hard times and times of bounty but they are still the same spirits they were when we were together every day.

Bishop Kenny High School Campus - Jacksonville Florida

Some of our reunions included our teachers who came back to see how we turned out. They had interesting lives as well and it was great to see them. As much as we liked them and respected them as teachers, when we met them again as adults and peers, we understood their contributions to our growing up and our appreciation for what they did for us grew significantly.

Some years ago, our reunions changed from one night formal events to a weekend full of fun and companionship. This year there will be a trip back to the school to see the changes that 50 years has brought to the campus, two days on the links for the golfers, time laying on the beach reliving those great beach parties of the 60s and not one but two evenings of informal partying. No more dressing to impress, we dress for comfort now. We will be there to renew our lifelong friendships. Here’s to you guys and gals, see you next weekend! Oh MY!

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