Sunday, June 16, 2019

50th class reunion (Part 2)

Fifty years later, I was somewhat surprised by how many of the faces I still recognized right off the bat.

Sure, we'd all gotten older. Some of us were bald, some of us were about 20 pounds heavier, most of us were graying.

But the facial features, well, they almost never change.

Mmmmm. Cake.
 So when Larry walked past me, I couldn't contain myself. "Larry," I said, trying to catch his attention in the fruit farm barn that served as the unlikely venue for the 50th class reunion for the Southern Lehigh Class of 1969.

But Larry kept walking. I guess he didn't hear me.

"Larry!" I said, following behind and trying to keep up. "LARRY!"

Larry turned and looked at my name tag.

"Bruce," he smiled. "How are you doing?"

"I'm doing well," I replied. "How about you?"

"I'm doing pretty good," said Larry. "Except that my name's not Larry. It's Duane."

Oh, jeez. I suddenly wanted a concrete wall to bang my head on. I looked at the sticker on his shirt, and sure enough, in the smallest typeface imaginable for all of us aging, glasses-wearing, astigmatized and Lasik-repaired codgers, and under the senior class picture that cleverly served as his name tag sticker, was the name Duane.

"Of course," I thought to myself, the memories now flooding back. "His name has always been Duane."

Ed Alosi, myself, and Tom Schaeffer catch up. I was always the shortest.*
Well, I'm here to say that everything went flawlessly after that little faux pas. Duane and I had a quick chuckle over my memory lapse and we caught up. Then we caught up with Tom Schaeffer. And Kenny Miller. And Ed Alosi. And David Eisenhauer. And Diane Eckley. And Jim Scott. And Linda Yost. And Hannah Pennewell.

Our class had 184 kids in it (Minus me. Our family moved away before my senior year, so I never graduated with these people. But Southern Lehigh is where my friends were), and I guess about 40 or so showed up for the reunion. There were maybe 60 of us in all, including spouses and significant others. Not bad.

There was also an In Memorium table where 24 names were posted with their senior picture and a short obituary. They represented about nine percent of our class, which I guess falls into the normal actuarial table for our age bracket. But that's still 24 people who weren't granted their biblical three score and ten. It gives you pause.

Two women also attended with the aid of walkers. One of them came up to me and spoke in a whisper. I looked at her name tag. It was Helen. Oh, my. Clearly, she had suffered a stroke somewhere along the way. And I wondered: There but for the grace of God...

Kim and I stayed for about three hours or so. Reunions are almost always hardest on spouses, and I could see Kim was getting a little antsy. She was 500 miles from home and nine years younger than everybody else, so socializing with this crowd was problematical for her. But she endured and I am forever grateful for that.

We were actually getting ready to leave when Jim came up from behind and started a conversation with me. Then Tom joined in. David came over and Larry/Duane completed the circle. We reminisced about our years at Solehi (a corruption of Southern Lehigh) for about a half hour, laughing, smiling, nodding at shared memories. Kim patiently paced in the background, looking at apple orchards and cherry trees.

The gist of the conversation finally surfaced. We all agreed we were lucky to have lived in the era and area that we did, sheltered as we were by the Southern Lehigh community and thus allowed to develop into the people we became.

Yes, we were. Lucky, indeed.

The Southern Lehigh Class of 1969.

 *Photos by Kim Wehrle.

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