As many of you know, I went to northern Illinois two weeks ago to attend my 50th high school reunion. It was an event I enjoyed and I am pleased I made the decision to go, despite the wrinkles and added pounds that separate my reunion pictures from my senior picture.
Guess what I discovered? Almost everyone else at a 50-year reunion has wrinkles and added pounds as well. Some are bald or white headed and some have obvious health issues. Life has been good to some and not so good to others. Of the 300-plus in the class of 1965, we had a good cross-section of careers, retirement activities, and choice of states in which to enjoy them. Not surprisingly, there were classmates who never married and some who played marriage musical chairs and married several times. One couple had seven children and 25 grandchildren. Others had none, but the majority seemed to limit themselves to two. It appeared that most class members who left northern Illinois headed south as I did. Many of us confessed to missing our hometown, but not the frigid winters.
We had about 210 or so in attendance, almost 50 have died since graduation, and about 20 have vanished and left no forwarding address. We thought the turnout was impressive and while I was able to connect with many of those I wanted to see, the organized events Friday and Saturday evening were not nearly long enough to accommodate conversations with everyone on my list — and I talk pretty fast. I also found out that many high school events were remembered differently. Of course, I am fairly certain the way I remember them is the correct version.
The Married Daughter was the designated driver for the trip. She was certain that at my advanced age I would never make it on my own. We had a good leisurely drive across Kansas and Missouri, stopping at small towns along the way and visiting antique shops, quaint restaurants, and points of interest. We did our best to stimulate the local economies and see all that we could see. The hatch area of my car soon filled with all manner of collectible items that will grace the shelves of Flint Hills Gypsies. Going across Illinois was not so rewarding. We decided the folks in Springfield — the Capitol — need to change the state emblem to a three-foot orange traffic cone. No other state could possibly have so much highway construction. Heaven help anyone needing a restroom break on the interstate. There were few exits available. We left little cash in small Illinois towns along the way to DeKalb.
Yes, Dick Jenkins, our famous actor classmate was there with his wife. He still is a funny guy. He was patient and kind to all of us common folk who wanted our pictures taken with him or wanted his autograph. He spoke briefly to the group about how great the times were when we grew up together in DeKalb. I think that feeling stayed with each of us as we went our separate ways after the weekend.
However, I also think most class reunions leave those who attend them feeling that same nostalgic tug. So go back and enjoy yours if you have the chance. No one expects you to look like you are 18 anymore. In fact, you would look foolish if you had not changed. Have a good time!