Who knew Don (aka Stu) Draughon could sing? And act? That Valerie Boyle - she of the huge ear to ear grin - is so silly, funny and such a joy to be around. How about the statuesque beauty from high school - Nona Thompson - now Nona Kim. Still a statuesque beauty and so very friendly and smiling as she talked to old friends and classmates?
I actually talked to a fellow I had been classmates with from at least 8th grade - Cameron Courtnage. I finally asked him why we always called him Randy (it was a family thing) and then I embarrassed him a little when I reminded him of the language he and Eric Niederost had created way back in the day. Randy said he'd hoped it was dead and buried LOL. Truth be told I suspect he was proud someone remembered it. Was it the original geek speak?
There was a special treat for Jack Thompson and I as our wrestling coach, Marv Rodriguez was there. Marv the Mighty Muscular Molecule - who was on the mat with me every day from first practice and coached me to 3rd in the HAAL my first year and 2nd in the HAAL, 3rd in the North Coast Sections and to the state tournament my 2nd year. To Jack, Marv was a surrogate father and mentor as well as a coach - a few tears were definitely shed by the three of us. Marv Rodriguez is one of the finest people I have ever known.
There is a general feeling, I think that reunions mean old cliques get together and reminisce and renew those old prejudice. If that was happening I certainly did not see it. The evening was filled with amiable reconnections and loud, raucous laughter. This was a collection of people thoroughly enjoying the turning back of time.
And then there was the no longer with us wall so lovingly and respectfully maintained by Rudy Cayabyab. That wall continues to grow and it hurts so much to see it. Damn you Rudy. And then, as if by magic memories flood back and fill you with the good times shared with those friends. Bless you Rudy. Thank you Rudy. We need to remember our old friends no longer with us - they are part of what and who we are today.
I have a special relationship with a certain short blonde classmate. It is our nature to each continually tease the other and has always been thus. This party was my first chance to meet her husband, so I stuck out my hand and said Hi Del - I'm Chuck McConvey. He smiled and said "so you're guy I have been hearing about all these years." He stood up, stuck out his hand and asked me what kind of beer I wanted. A really nice guy.
Then there was my new friend Vicki Martinez being a social butterfly - that came as a shock to her I think, Her grin was huge as she talked to people - lots of people.
There were several old friends I hadn't seen in over 50 years - like Rich Adkins and Gary Hall. Nobody missed a beat - it was like we see each other all the time.
Then there is Jim Furr -the last time I saw him was New Year's Eve 1968, and he became my partner in crime on this reunion trip - you have seen the results with his photographic talent. When we were freshmen some friends and I carried Jim on our Blue Laws float. I guess you could say payback was a bitch as Jim pushed me around Cleveland and several hotels. But documenting our rail adventure has been some serious fun.
To make this something of a living, breathing document I'd like to hear your impressions and let you share any special reunion memories if you would like to. Send them to me via messenger or simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will add your memory to the blog. We can - and should, I think, share in the experience.
One last thing. Rumor has it that the party was so successful our exceptional team of planners said something about a 75th birthday party to which I say not yes but HELL YES! Joyce, Betty and Mary have created a monster. It is only fitting that we feed the beast and so lets it again! Without the road trip, though.