Note: This is a followup to the Reunion Survey and results article we published in 2015. In that poll we found an even split between those looking forward to their 50th reunion, and those who said they either had no plans to attend, or were undecided. Many who said they would not come based their decision on bad memories or a need to move on from those days of old. Here is the link to the original article, Baby Boomers Look Forward to Their 50th Reunions with Optimism and …
— July 26, 2016. Your editor just had the pleasure of experiencing his 50th high school reunion. And, for how he felt about it, he agreed with the 62% in our previous survey who rated their reunion experience as “excellent”. We hope the personal observations in this article will provide some useful input for those of our Members whose reunions are approaching.
How it went
Arriving at the B & B where the Friday night reception was to be held, I was apprehensive. Would I be able to recognize, even remember, all of these people? Fortunately I staved off the desire to retire to my room and open up a book, and ventured forth. Immediately a woman recognized me with a friendly smile, breaking the ice. Other classmates were introduced in quick order, and soon I was having conversations with one old friend after another. Even though I had studied our old yearbook on the plane ride out, some re-introductions were required. Occasionally I met someone who knew who I was, while I awkwardly tried to reconcile their 68 year old appearance with my memory of them as an 18 year old. In other times it was my name and/or face that drew a puzzled look. Many people were instantly recognizable, while others were harder to identify.
The weekend featured a Friday reception, breakfast at the B & B for those staying there, and Friday night dinner and DJ. About 80 out of 175 living classmates attended. Most, but not all, of the people that I hoped would attend did so. The vast majority of those present were completely retired. Well over half of the attendees came to the event with spouse or significant other. The latter mostly seemed to be enjoying the events, many having met classmates and/or other spouses along the way or in preceding reunions. About 15% of our class have gone to their eternal reward, including 4 from our class killed in Vietnam. A rough estimate is that somewhere around 50% of our male classmates are veterans; very few, if any, of the women went into the service, reflecting where society was at that time.
Chatting with people went surprisingly easy, even for a normally introverted person. There were several surprises. One was how much joy there was to meet people whom I hadn’t really thought about in decades, and how instant the shared affection was. Another was how easy it was to approach and engage many school mates with whom I had not been close. Topics like favorite teachers, bygone adventures, and the completely different set of life experiences kept conversations lively and upbeat. In contrast to many ordinary get-togethers, there was only the occasional point dragged on a little too long, or a silence begging to be filled.
In my case the decision to attend was an excellent one – the whole experience was fun. There was real joy in meeting up with and reconnecting with old friends, along with shared pathos while remembering our deceased classmates. The only sad note was our wonderment at why some of our favorite chums did not join us in attending. In our opinion, the loss was not only theirs, but ours too.
Comments? Please share any experiences that might help others considering whether or not they should attend their reunions in the Comments section below.