Blurring the line after 50 years

There, amid the junk mail in the mailbox, was a bright blue envelope with a return address that caught my eye: Raytown High School Class of 1963.

It can’t be, I thought. I did the math. It is. It has been 50 years since I graduated from high school in the suburbs of Kansas City, Mo.
Inside the envelope were all the details for a three-day reunion weekend, Oct. 4-6. It will start with a cocktail reception on Friday. Saturday includes a tour of the high school (yes, it’s still there), lunch, a memorial service, a Saturday night dinner and “gala celebration.” It concludes on Sunday with a brunch.
Along with an itinerary was a “Reunion To Do List,” which began with going to an online site to register with the class and enter personal information and a biography. All of the 600 or so people in my graduating class are listed, accompanied by their high school yearbook picture.
The first surprise was a summary on the home page that reported that 84 of my classmates are dead. I was shocked. When I mentioned it to Jenny, she said she thought the number would have been higher. That put me into a real funk.
“I just don’t think that’s a very big number, considering your ages,” she said, then added, “I guess someone would feel differently if he were one of the 84.”
She has a point.
The next surprise was my high school picture. I looked a little younger (well, maybe a lot younger) and I had hair.
Those were the days.
Actually, they weren’t the days. I wasn’t one of the popular kids in high school. I was sort of a nerd.
 My two main high school activities were being editor of the school paper and a member of the debate team.
Several of the popular girls were on the newspaper staff, but I always thought it was to just to add to their activity list and get more pictures of themselves in the high school yearbook. Mostly, they didn’t hang around the newspaper office or do much of the work.
None of them were on the debate team. We were all geeks. That wasn’t considered a popular kid activity. It probably still isn’t.
When I left high school for college, I fell out of touch with most of my high school classmates.
Even though the class held a reunion every five years, I didn’t go back for it. At least until Jenny and I were married.
We went to her high school reunion in Kentucky, and a couple of years later, my 40th came around. Off we went, and I actually enjoyed it. The line between the popular crowd and everyone else seemed to have been blurred by time.
So we’ve marked the October date on the calendar and are thinking about making the trek to Kansas City for the event.
Both of us will have to take a day off of work, a problem most of my classmates won’t have. They’re retired.
“That’s the real problem with my reunion,” I said to Jenny.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“We have to hang around a bunch of old people,” I said.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or e-mail at publisher@newalbanygazette.com.

About Chris Elkins

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