I was in the U.S. Army in 1969 when my Parkersburg (Iowa) High School Class of 1964 held its first class reunion — a gathering marking five years after  we graduated. So I didn’t make the trip from Fort Polk, La., where I was stationed. I don’t know if I was held during my time in boot camp or advanced infantry training  — or what? that year.

I chaired our 10th Year Reunion in August 1974, just a couple days after President Richard Nixon had resigned from the shame in Watergate.  I would chair our 25th and 40th class reunions and attended several others.  There weren’t enough classmates interested in holding  a 35th-Year Reunion.    On July 12, 2014, many of the 43 living alumni from the 47 graduates of PHS are gathering in Aplington, Iowa, at a place called Stinkey’s Bar and Grill, to catch up on each other’s lives. It will be a fast three hours or so together.

That spring of 1964, we, the first Baby Boomers class, were the largest graduating class that school district had ever had.

For the 40th class reunion in 2004, I produced a 70-page booklet with updates on all but a couple  graduates.  (Just two classmate did not respond to requests for information.)  This year I produced  a  58-page book with mostly color photos, and, like the other, it is a mix of memories and nostalgia. I dedicated a page to the four classmates whom we have lost.

Desktop publishing has come a long ways since even 2004, and the cost of color has really fallen.  (This time, six classmates did not respond, some because of health challenges). Classmates mostly wrote about what they are doing in retirement.  Most of us are 68 years old now.  All but three of our original 47 married at least one time.  Our singles were  all males, and two are now deceased.  We were a class of 30 girls and 17 boys.  It was a class I take special pride in, as the class’ valedictorian, the editor of the school newspaper my senior year, as freshman and junior class president and a member of the Student Council.  I penned the class theme, as well:  “Success docks at the Port of Effort.”

Of the 43 classmates, 24 live in Butler County where  Parkersburg is  — or an adjoining county.  Five live in other parts of Iowa, four reside in Minnesota and three in Arizona.  One each lives in seven other states: Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Tennessee and Oregon.  In previous booklets, I added up the number of children our class produced, but, now, with non-responses from  some classmates and the blurred area of birth and adopted children, it became too inexact to tally.   I think we averaged about two children per graduate.

Four major moments of our senior year were the boys football team winning the Big Marsh football championships, the assassination of President John Kennedy, the Crusaderettes girls basketball team making the Sweet 16 State Girls Tournament in Des Moines and the Beatles’ Invasion of America.

Classmates say they don’t want speeches and a long program for the dinner, in order to get maximum one-on-one conversation. One of our teachers, who was a coach, plans to attend, along with a former superintendent.

Needless to say, some of us will have to think a moment to figure out who that nearly 70-year-old bald guy is.   It’s confounding why some classmates, even given more than a year of advance notice on the date of the reunion, let other things supersede and not go to the reunion.  Some classmates will go across the country to attend a reunion while some living in the hometown opt not to attend “because we see each other all the time at the store.”  I remember one classmate telling me before our 10th reunion that she wasn’t  attending because she didn’t like that particular restaurant’s menu.

From Arizona as a reunion dinner prop, I will again transport to Iowa the yard-tall cardboard “moon” covered in aluminum foil that hung in the school gym in April 1963 for the junior-senior prom.  Our theme was “Moon River,” after the mega-hit Henry Mancini song that became an Andy Williams standard.   My twin brother, Lincoln, who went on to be an aeronautical engineer crafted the moon, as he did a spinning cylinder with a light inside that made silver, hanging streamers shimmer as if we were beholding a waterfall.  Meanwhile, nearby the school’s bulky tape recorder was playing a recording of the hydrant of the cow tank on our farm churning out water to create the waterfall sounds.   As class  president, I coordinated the committees that handled all parts of the prom we were throwing for the senior class.  When it came to decorating, the gym doors and windows were covered to keep the prom theme a big secret until the night of the big dance.

So my wife, Patty, and I are going to my 50th class reunion to see whether we still have class –we survivors of a half-century of life, mindful that we will never all be around again — or together again –for yet another reunion.  We had our kids, now relish in our grandchildren and even have started the great-grandchildren generation.  We served our nation, paid our taxes, plugged our skills into the fabric of the American work force and survived.

 

Advertisements