One thing that we should always be grateful of is the community of family and friends that we grew up in. The days when summer meant playing baseball all day long, and the winters meant two weeks off at Christmas, and hockey at the pond. It took a recent communal revival to ignite these thoughts, but nevertheless they reappeared.
The idea to organize a forty year anniversary of our 69′ eighth grade class reunion was organized by a good friend of mine, and through committee, much work, and plenty of pizza, the event came to pass. The agenda included a walk through our suburban Chicago-land elementary school and a dinner and DJ-based dance at the community center.
I flew into Chicago from Dallas where I presently live, and about thirty of us with our significant others gathered at the Mary Jane Elementary School for a tour of our old romping grounds. It was interesting that although much of us had changed on the outside, not much had changed on the inside (analogous to the revamped school). We toured the classroom where kindergarten class was first held and I recalled the first time Mrs. Baker called for nap time. (Nap time? I don’t need any stinkin’ nap time.) The first grade classroom brought back memories of the Nazi-induced Mrs. Loftgren (her ear grabbing technique still brings tears to my eye, although I must admit that I evened the score with her by strategically placing a thumbtack on her seat). Two other notable landmarks included the principal’s office (I camped out in Mr. Albert’s enclave a few times), and the gymnasium, which doubled as the spook house at Halloween (this is where my friend and I jumped the Mummy and gave him a good beating). On and on the memories came back to us as we all laughed and remembered with extraordinary clarity.
After the tour, a group of us stopped by my parent’s house for a brief visit. Although my folks are in their eighties and are physically failing, their minds are lucid and they recalled each and every one of my classmates (especially the trouble makers).
From there we went to the community center for the dinner and dance. As we entered, each member of the group was given a commemorative book chronicling the current events of 1969 (Vietnam, Man on the Moon, Batman, The French Chef, Peggy Fleming, The Graduate, Star Trek, and last, but least, Nixon). A disc of the year’s hit music was also recorded for posterity’s sake. All of these things brought back great memories.
We proceeded to dinner which had a nice buffet, and of course, plenty of pizza from our old pizza haunt. Upon finishing dinner and mingling a bit, the entertainment portion of the program was unleashed, complete with our era’s music and karaoke performances. After much drink and laughter, the event came to a close (it would be remiss to leave out the commiseration between myself and my buddies about the Cubs and the Bears). Nevertheless a good time was had by all.
My point of all this, is that although life can be cruel at times, we must always look at life as the cup being half full, and not half empty. We are all still, who we were then. Never forget your community, family, and friends, and a smile will return to your face.