Baby Boomers Look Forward to 50th Reunions with Optimism, an Occasional Touch of Cattiness, and Facebook

Category: Baby Boomer Retirement Issues

March 3, 2015 —
Note: Last year the class of 1964, the group that kicked off the baby boom when they arrived on the planet in 1946, had their 50th high school reunions.

Thank you to the almost 300 members who took the time to contribute your valuable insights to last week’s “50th Reunion” survey. We now have a much fuller idea of your intentions and attitudes towards these impending celebrations. As always, it is your insights and comments that are the most interesting part of these surveys. So as promised, here is a detailed report on the findings. At the end of this article you will also find many of the fascinating comments you provided in the open ended parts of each question – we think you will enjoy them. A list of our previous survey reports is provided at the end of the article. A followup we did on our own 50th reunion is here, “An Anatomy of a 50th High School Reunion“.

Highlights
This survey was one of our more whimsical ones, so we hope you enjoy reading the results. Here are some other highlights from the 6 question poll.

– Only a small percentage (15%) of survey takers have already had their 50th reunion
– More people intend to attend than not: the percentage that intends to attend their 50th is about equal to the combined figure for those who either aren’t sure or will not go
– Reconnecting with old friends and seeing how people have turned out are the overwhelming reasons given for attending
– By far the biggest reason for not going/intending to go was that people say they have moved on, and have no need to go back
– There is a big difference between how people who have attended their 50th rate the experience vs. those whose reunion hasn’t come yet: 62% of those who went said it was “excellent”, but only 22% of those who have one coming up think it will be excellent. That tells us you might be pleasantly surprised if you go
– The arrival of the Internet and social media might be changing reunions and attitudes toward them. Several people mentioned they have made contact with former classmates via Facebook or other media and now they look forward to seeing them in person
– Almost no one gave any thought about their 50th reunion when they graduated from high school (your editor was one of the strange, lone few!)

After reading the comments of the people who took the time to share their thoughts we conclude that most people are positively disposed towards their reunions, although sometimes a bit apprehensive. Some folks are pretty sure that the same old cliques will ruin their fun, while others say they are pleasantly surprised to see that people have changed in a positive direction since the good old days.

At the end of the article you will find many of the comments made – here is a positive one we particularly like: “If you don’t want to see certain people, just say hi, and move on to another person. Those may not have been the good old days, things today are probably better. So go and enjoy all you can. What do you really have to lose?”

And to counter that one, one of our favorite catty ones: “It is fun to bet on who is in jail, who got divorced, who will not show etc.”

Detailed Findings
1. Will you be attending your 50th high school reunion

Plan on going
Not Sure
Not going
Have already attended
Did not go
39%
23%
22%
9%
6%

2. If you did go or plan on going, what are some of the reasons why you want to attend?
We wondered if finding an old flame might be driving some people’s interest, but either not many are, or they are not admitting it!

Reconnect with old friends
See how people turned out/changed
Relive the good old days
Other
Reconnect with an old flame
37%
42%
13%
5%
2%

3. If you did not attend or plan not to attend, what are some of the biggest reasons for not?
No need to go back to those days topped the reasons for not attending.

Have moved on, no need to go back
Too far to travel
Prefer to remember it the way it was
Those days weren’t good days
Don’t want to see other people
Health/Don’t feel good about myself
42%
16%
13%
13%
6%
4%

4. If you did go, please rate the experience for us. (Only 29 people answered this question)

Excellent
Good
OK
Not so good
Terrible
62%
24%
10%
3%
0%

5. If your reunion hasn’t happened yet, what are your thoughts about how it might go?
Note how low the expectations are for the people who have one on the horizon vs. those who have actually gone!

Excellent
Good
OK
Not so good
Terrible
37%
35%
22%
4%
3%

6. When you were just out of school did you ever have thoughts about attending your 50th high school reunion?

Not at all
A little bit
Most definitely
84%
11%
4%

A sampling of many of the comments you made about 50th reunions
There were several questions that let you expand on your thoughts about reunions. “Is there anything you would particularly look forward to at the reunion, or especially dread?” produced 46 particularly rich comments. Another open-ended question had 36 responses.

I went to my 40th and there were almost no people with whom I used to associate in HS.

This from a friend who attended his 50 reunion (but we don’t recommend it!): I always had a crush on a certain girl in our class but never could do anything about it. So when I saw her after all those years I went up and kissed her on the lips, then told her I had always wanted to do that!

Of course I am going – I am planning the event!

I have attended all but one reunion (another important obligation) and have enjoyed all. Some of us who do go noticed that many who never left our hometown (pop. about 7,000) do not attend. We don’t know their reasons. What we do know is many of the above reasons shouldn’t be reasons to not attend. We all left high school when we were still children, when we behaved like children. Most of us have grown up and we now don’t care how much money you made, that you didn’t become a famous person you had hoped to become, that you had to endure a menial job just to make ends meet, or that you never went to college, or that you gained weight or lost all your hair. What we really care about now is how your children and grandchildren are, how your golf game is, your travel experiences, who you really are, how your cousin or sister is doing. We can relate on a more current adult level; taking care of a parent with dementia, sharing the same aches and pains physically and with life in general. Those are the more important issues that we as adults care about more now. If you don’t want to see certain people, just say hi, and move on to another person. Those may not have been the good old days, things today are probably better. So go and enjoy all you can. What do you really have to lose?

The was no interest then to see anyone and 50 years later reminds me of how clickish and sickish they still are.

looking forward to surprises- how my classmates are/will be dealing with retirement life and any lesson I can learn from them as I prepare for my own.

I look forward so seeing some friends who I have only met online lately and others who we can’t find in advance. Also I look forward to the physical building. It was old and in many ways mysterious. Secret corridors, boarders areas, smells of soup cooking every day, the smell of the chemistry lab, huge playgrounds with happy memories. I don’t think there are any teachers left alive (we started fall of ’53) but I would be delighted to meet any of them.

I’ve never had any desire to go to any of the reunions. Large, noisy groups of people don’t interest me. However, during the organization phase of our last big reunion, I did have the opportunity (online) to reconnect with friends I had lost contact with. Some of us got together for our own mini-reunion, which was much more satisfying

Hesitation because I need to lose weight

I don’t dread anything as I have aged very well. We always have an ice breaker on Friday night (no spouses unless they went to the same HS). This is great as all the catching up is done without the guilt of leaving your spouse un-attended. Saturday is a dinner dance and as my wife and I cut a mean rug (she taught me how to do “Swing”), I know we will have a great time.

I have moved on and no need to go back, but I don’t mean that in a negative or bitter way. I did go to some reunions and resolved some issues and feel no need to return again.

I went to my 15 yr reunion and was terribly disappointed. The few people I was anxious to see were not there. I approached a guy who I shared a double work station with the whole school yr in 11th grade and he said “Who are you?” I suggested getting together to play tennis with one and he said he was too old for that- we were what, 33 yrs old. I’m playing 4 or 5 times a week now.

I really feel sorry for old people whose highlight in life was their high school days. Shades of “Al Bundy, 4 touchdowns in a single game.” It is downright SAD.
For what reason, I have not seen them in 50 years, so why now?

Enjoyed the people at the reunion much better than when in school

My 5oth reunion was the biggest our class ever had. More people attended than ever before. It was so great to see all the people I attended school with. Many people I had gone from kindergarten to 12th grade with. It was a most fun evening and I look forward to the next reunion.

Yes. I wasn’t that thrilled with high school, because I wasn’t that popular. I skipped every reunion after the 20th, until the 45th last year. So glad I went–I found many classmates to be totally changed in attitudes. Most everyone was over their hangups and was warm and welcoming, and eager to reconnect. Now I’m on very friendly terms with former classmates who didn’t even speak to me in high school. People do change!

I remember when my Dad went to his 50th reunion. He seemed so old at that time. Now I am going in two years?? I am still 29 ( in my mind!!)

Reunions to me are out of date and have no place in our world now with classmates.com and other sites like Facebook where you can connect and keep in touch with high school friends should you so desire. Our 50th (I did not go) turned out to be down to a very small group – mostly those that stayed in that tiny town – and I doubt there will be another one…

We have had reunions every 10 yrs and the 25th, that’s 5 to date. I made the 20th, 25th and 40th. I will cherish the 50th as this may be the last reunion for a lot of us.
although electronic media keeps us in touch better than 45 years ago it is till nice to get some face to face and have a conversation with your mouth rather than just a keyboard.

Have not attended any of the past ones, but am curious about the 50th. In some respects it’s similar to when first leaving high school. You know things are going to change in relation to how you’d lived so far, and are you looking forward to that or not.

In my high school class (415 graduating) there was a core group of people (maybe 40, good people all) who went to every reunion and seemed very comfortable at these events. But most of the others went to one or two or didn’t go at all. I think it’s more a function of people rather than any specific class or school dynamics.

After completing survey I think my chances of attending are slimmer than when I began survey. It has provided more negative thoughts than positive ones. Thank you for forcing the thought process.

Have not attended any of the past ones, but am curious about the 50th. In some respects it’s similar to when first leaving high school. You know things are going to change in relation to how you’d lived so far, and are you looking forward to that or not.

Our class has always been close, even though there were over 400. We have huge turnouts.

Many of us want to remember our classmates as they were.

We live in a small community where both my parents and grandparents and I graduated from the same school. A big Alumni Banquet is celebrated every year with the class with the 50th reunion as the host and the graduating class as the “guests”.

Go if you want to and can.

I had a good time at my 20th. By the 40th, my GOD they were all ancient and boring and dying. By August, 1963 when I left for college it was like high school had never been. I do attend my sorority college reunions.

Might dread to find out that a classmate passed on. Hopefully will see some smiling faces that I will remember.

Seeing how bad some of the IN crowd people have let themselves get. Out of shape, fat, etc.

Hopefully will see some smiling faces that I will remember.
It’s a milestone which I believe should be marked. Just like getting an AARP card, filing for Social Security, and qualifying for Medicare, it’s a rite of passage.

I wasn’t that involved with my school mates. Most of my friends were already out of school, and over the years I’ve lost contact with ALL of them. However, in the past two years I’ve reconnected with a lot of school friends via Facebook so I’m really interested in attending the reunion now.

It will be nice to see some of the people I grew up with but went separate ways after HS graduation.

Enjoyed the people at the reunion much better than when in school

DREAD: Comparisons of the “haves” and “have nots”. (Who did well, and who didn’t).

I’ve attended about every 10 years, starting with the 20th. Interesting how people have changed – and haven’t!
—–

Bottom Line
Thank you to those Topretirements members who took the time to share. If you didn’t fill out the survey, say thanks to those who did so for your benefit. As always, your insights are wonderful and illuminating. Please share your reactions in the Comments section below!

Links to Previous Surveys
Topretirements Members Very Confident About Retirement
Where to Retire Preferences
Topretirements Members Report High Degrees of Spousal Compatibility- 2013
Our Members Getting Ready for Big Retirement Moves- 2013
Retirement Living Preferences – 2013
Medicare Survey – 2012
Best and Worst Things About Your Retirement
Your Bucket Lists Are Amazing
Top Concerns about Retirement
Plans for Retirement

Comments? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below. Did the comments from others make you change your mind, one way or the other.



Posted by Admin on March 2nd, 2015

4 Comments »

  1. I’m not sure I ever saw this questionnaire, but I am one who is grateful for reunions. I’m an Army brat and graduated from high school in Augsburg, Germany. All of us then spread out to many corners of the globe and we thought we would never see one another again. Then, lo and behold, along came the internet, and we began finding one another again. We’ve had quite a few reunions, in different locations around the country and on cruises to Alaska and the Caribbean, and always have a wonderful time!

    My 50th college reunion is coming up in June. I can remember looking at the pictures in the alum magazine and thinking all those women looked so old! Ha! Now it’s our turn. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again. Yes, we’re older. But we’re still around. Far too many of our classmates have passed before their time. So I’m grateful to still be here and able to celebrate this milestone.

    by Linda — March 3, 2015

  2. I don’t understand why some people think that other people even care how much you weigh. If you dress for your figure and care about your grooming, it shouldn’t matter at all. IMO….

    by Caps — March 4, 2015

  3. Due to distance and work schedule, I was never able to attend HS Reunions. After I retired in 2012, I was fortunate that I could attend my High School 40th Class Reunion and it was a good experience for me. I am still amazed how good every one looked at our age.

    by jpjones — March 4, 2015

  4. Would have been wonderful to have known about and/or have been invited to the Class of 1964 – 50th class reunion last summer – 2014. I surely would have attended!

    by Shirley Whitehurst Nuehring — March 4, 2015

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