Discover Vintage America - JULY 2018
Pondering the past 50 years
I received the postcard announcing the 50th reunion of my high school class coming up this fall. How did that happen? 50 years? Isn't that a lifetime?
Leigh Elmore as a high school senior (photo courtesy 1968 Kirkwood, MO High School yearbook)
Yes, for some it has been a lifetime – the list of deceased classmates on our class website grows longer.
The others of us are left to be amazed that we say things like "Why, 20 years ago …, blah, blah, blah." Or, "30 years ago we did it this way …." And now "50 years ago ….?!"
You get the picture. It's sobering to know that we are the new "old folks" yet, at the same time I am grateful to be able to bore my younger relatives with my wisdom ("Now, 40 years ago …").
As my peers and I compare aches, pains and maladies that come with the territory of aging, I like to remind them that everybody gets to be young; but it's a privilege to be old. (You know I like to walk on the sunny side of the street.)
So, I will send in my reservations for the reunion.
I have attended all but the earliest, the tenth, and have some perspective on how my classmates
and I presented ourselves over the years. There's no fibbing about our ages, because we are all the same age.
At our 20th reunion we were in our 30s and "on the make" career-wise. The guys wore power suits and ties and I think the women did too. Seemed to be a lot of boasting as we all wanted to seem successful.
The 30th reunion was much more mellow. Instead of a sit-down meal we had a buffet at a local swim club. Nice and casual. The guy who owned a cigar store passed out stogies for all.
At the 40th reunion all the old cliques melted away. Everybody seemed genuinely grateful to see each other.
I expect the 50th to be even more "real" as I note that the Pub Crawl on the first day is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Pass the Geritol and make it a double!
We graduated from high school in 1968, one of the most violent and divisive years in the history of our country. It was a year wracked with assassinations, riots, a raging war, mass protests – the country was as divided as it could possibly be; along racial lines and by age, young versus old. But, eventually the country came through it intact.
Now, 50 years later we are again a divided nation – ideologically. We seem incapable of civil discourse and debate. Yet, I have faith that the republic will yet again survive the present seismic shocks.
So as you prepare to celebrate Independence Day, remember all the Americans who came before and made it all possible.
Leigh Elmore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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