On The Occasion Of My High School Reunion

This reunion marked forty-five years since we graduated from good Ol’MHS(Marshall High School).

Our class graduated around two hundred twenty five on 1 Jun 68. We were a pretty close bunch and since our ten year reunion we have gotten together every five years since, except for five years ago when many personal family issues of the people who had always organized events interrupted our streak. This year, a different group of classmates stepped up and took charge, refusing to let our life long connection end without notice.

In the months leading up to our reunion, my friends began the organizing and planning. Locating everyone was a much more challenging task than I would have thought and discovered from one of my classmates that she did a public records search of my name (and variants) and discovered there were two people with the same name in Dallas. She contacted one of the men and discovered that he was recently deceased, but when the woman she was talking to said his body had been returned to their home town in Kansas, she realized it wasn’t me. She finally got my email address from my oldest and best friend.

I had informed her that I truly wanted to be there, but due to demands on my time, I couldn’t be certain until a day or two before the event on Saturday, 26 Oct 13(I think I even used the term “game day decision”). On Thursday I was certain I would attend and let her know. I had planned to leave Dallas early that afternoon and make the two hour drive to arrive in Marshall early enough to gorge on some bodacious Brown Pigs. That was the plan, which got blown up quickly on Friday and didn’t leave Dallas until 6:15p.m. and there wasn’t a road or freeway that wasn’t clogged, making a normal twenty five minute drive to clear the last suburb East of Dallas a one hour and twenty five minute adventure of brake dust and a growling stomach.

By the time I reached Marshall it was 9:30p.m. and mercifully a Wendy’s appeared. I gulped down the burger and fries while driving the remaining fifteen miles to my friend’s lake house while listening to my High School’s exciting football game, which they won with two seconds left in the game on a field goal(45-42). I couldn’t be distracted, though, the “rut” is about to start and deer or other critters could dash out of the woods onto the dark, lonely highway and its rolling hills.

Cruising through this familiar and beloved region called for music, so I reached into the CD box and pulled out the Primus classic, Tales From The Punchbowl.
It was perfect for the occasion and my mood, and I was rocking on Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver as I turned into the road leading to my best friend’s house, where I was greeted with his wonderful visage attending to a good sized bonfire.

My dear friend and his wonderful wife, it had been seven years since we last saw each other and as sad as it was to realize it had been that long, we just picked right up with the comfort, jokes, joy and happiness only old, good friends can share. As I have said many times, there is no friend like an old friend…we know where each other’s scars are and how we got them.

We stayed up late visiting and just enjoying each other being there. As tired as I was, it was difficult for me to sleep and woke up every time I tossed in bed. I was still wired from the day’s events, the drive and the anticipation of a fun weekend, that and the fact that I wasn’t on my own Queen sized bed.

I finally got up before sun rise and felt rested enough, but more than anything, I wanted to be outside and enjoy the peace and solitude of Caddo Lake. It was cool, in the upper 50’s, and I just sat outside listening to the crows and other birds, with the occasional bass boat cruising by. There are no jets flying overhead, no sirens, boom boxes or car horns, the silence is deafening and for someone like me, with hypersensitive hearing, the absence of noise and only hearing sounds that actually have meaning is deeply relaxing.

I went back inside, laid on the couch and nodded for awhile, until my friend’s lovely wife got up and we sat and talked while drinking the coffee treat I brought to enjoy with them.

I went into town just after noon. My desire for some Brown Pigs was still overwhelming and I wanted to visit another old, dear friend and his wife and see their new custom built home. I got to Neely’s and finally found a parking place, but people were crowding around the front waiting for a table, so I left and went to my friend’s. It was great to see them again and their home was absolutely gorgeous, with the quality of materials and workmanship evident in every room and finish. They had to leave to go see their oldest son perform in a reenactment in an historic old home and asked me to come. I hadn’t showered, or really had anything good to eat in well over twenty four hours by now, so I declined. Since they would be back in a short time, I asked if I could stay at their home and watch the OU game, which they said was fine.

Sadly, the OU game was delayed by over an hour due to weather and I could only watch the first six minutes. I had to get back to the lake, shower and dress for the reunion. I did have a ham and cheese sandwich at the lake house.

As we drove into town we passed Neely’s, it was still open and the parking lot was empty…and so was I, but we couldn’t stop.(insert colorful adjective here)

Arriving at the site of the reunion we were astonished at all the parked cars and people waiting to get inside. The turnout was tremendous, nearly fifty percent of our surviving class mates were in attendance; the enthusiasm and excitement in the air was palpable.

I saw so many wonderful people that I had known since elementary school. There were hugs, laughs and tales from our past that made my heart swell. This gathering was a blessing and the scheduled 11p.m. ending came swiftly.

One part of the gathering was dedicated to a Memorial for all of our classmates now gone. Their names were called and candles in front of their images were lit.

I had forwarded some of the posts I have made here at Nuke’s to one of the organizers and she wanted the tribute I made to my friend Pat Blair read aloud. One of our classmates read it and being a little self-conscious about that, I lingered in the back of the room munching on chips/dips/nuts/cheese/olives. I noticed how quiet and respectful the room was and as she was nearing the end I made my way around the room and met her at the mic as she finished. I let everyone know what Pat’s friend had told me, about naming his first son after Pat and taking his children to visit his grave in East Texas and to the Viet Nam Memorial.

Later, many other people talked about their friendship and love for Pat, and a few asked me how they could find what I wrote. I only told them if they said they weren’t a liberal.

One thing that I noticed was everyone had a smartphone now. We have gone from being the adored grandchildren we all knew as kids and teenagers, to being the adoring grandparents showing photos of our clan with our smartphones.

I got up around 7a.m. on Sunday, loaded my gear and hit the road. I stopped by to see my old friend at his new home and we went to IHOP to have breakfast and catch up on things. I had the best meal in three days, a steak omelette with buttermilk pancakes. We visited for a while outside and he needed to go. I went inside to visit the men’s room before I headed home and wound up visiting with a number of my classmates for another fifteen minutes and it was hard to leave, but my phone was blowing up with calls, texts and emails.

I love all those folks, even those I may have had difficulty or grievances with many years ago.

It’s true, I am getting old, but after being with all those good old friends, I believe I am also getting better, too…every damn day!

5 Responses

  1. Oh, DAMN. In a few years will be my 40th high school reunion. I haven’t seen most of those people for 40 years, so I don’t expect I’ll see ’em ever again. The ones I liked have long since moved on to more remote locations such as Alaska, Idaho, etc. and I’ve lost touch with ’em over the years.

  2. Most of my classmates either stayed in Marshall or very near by, while a good portion still live in Texas. Some have scattered to the winds, but even then some have come for some of our reunions from far away places, while some I fear I will never see again.
    Each five years there is always at least one or more that come that have never been to any of our reunions or not to one in many moons.
    What is truly amazing to me is that every living classmate was found and contacted.

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