The 55th reunion of Stonewall Jackson High School in Charleston, WV is history now. I am already hoping for the 60th; hoping the committee will plan one and hoping that we are all still alive to attend it. We were told by the class president that 1/3 of our class (447) died since the last reunion, in 2008. It makes one wonder how many of us will still be surviving in 2018 (or sadly, how few.)
Having written about my reunions before, I'm sure you know (those of you who read here regularly) that I love going back home and reconnecting with the people I knew back then. I thought about them all the way home yesterday. It is amazing to me that so many of us keep returning, and all seem genuinely happy to see each other and enjoy our time together. Not all my time in high school was fun; there were the usual boy troubles, jealousy, ill-perceived actions on my part or by someone else. But most of that has vanished into thin air and we all revel in our shared histories and memories.
It was regrettable that some of my good friends were not able to attend; poor health, long distances and family affairs kept some away. Their non-presence was almost tangible. There was an empty space in the crowd and in my heart. Mary Carolyn, Sharon and Pat - you know who you are. We missed you! On the other hand, I got to see at least 2 people whom I had not laid eyes on since we graduated in 1958; Jack and Susanne.....it was really, really good to see you again.
There was, as usual, not enough time to speak to everyone, or to have an in-depth conversation with many of those I wished I could. I did have two nice lunches; one on one conversations with old girlfriends. Neither of these women were really close friends while we were in school. We lived in different areas, and having no car meant we couldn't get together after school on a regular basis. But that doesn't matter now. We enjoyed getting to know each other at this point in our lives, and I am sure that the wait staff in each place thought we were the best of friends, back then as well as now.
When I have talked about my reunions in the past, invariably some of you write a comment and say that you had a horrible time in high school; that you never attend reunions because you don't want to relive those bad times. I really feel sorrow for you. The first time I went (the 20th) I approached it with fear and trepidation: will anyone remember me? Will they care to see me again? I can tell you that I should never have worried. I had a blast the first time and I have been back every 5 years since.
Thanks to our Class President - who still functions in that capacity and does an excellent job of it. We must have known what we were doing when we voted you into office, David H! Thanks also to the full committee, and especially Mary R., who really goes above and beyond to insure that we have a good reunion.
Our school* may be gone, but our strong school spirit lives on in each of us.
* The school we attended is now a junior high school.