“If I Am Still Alive in July,
I Plan On Being There”
This week we are having our semi-annual, mini-reunion lunch in San Jose with four Japanese-American friends, whose ages range from 86 to 95.
I just wished one friend here in Santa Cruz a Happy 90th, another has a 93rd coming up, and two more long-term friends just “celebrated” their 90th birthdays.
When we speak nowadays, we jokingly talk about the Golden Years being mainly filled with rust.
But at least we are all still talking, although it seems that each week I learn of further woes that have noticeably slowed down contemporaries of mine. One long-time friend was in ICU for three weeks after a heart attack, someone else was having yet another operation, and another from high-school days in Detroit is barely alive with necessary tubes protruding from various areas of his body.
I turn eighty-two this month, and most of my high-school friends are now eighty-three. Somehow, I jumped from grade 5A at Brady Elementary School in Detroit to grade 6A, and don’t remember earning that promotion. However, because of it, I have friends that are mainly six months older than I.
THE GOOD OLDE DAZE
When we get together in Detroit this July for the 65th anniversary of our high school graduation, among other topics, we may reminisce about the “good olde days,” some of which never occurred. We may learn about who had died, when and how, what our compatriot’s children had accomplished, how their grandchildren are doing, and in some instances, what’s doing with great-grandchildren.
If you live miles away or an ocean apart as I do, you can stay in touch via email, telephone, Skype, Face Time, and with typed or handwritten letters. I am the only person I know who still uses pen and ink to connect, and I don’t know if I know myself that well. I also help the U.S. Post Office; each time I affix another “Forever” stamp on an envelope.
Although we are on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, we are fortunate to have old Central High friends like Bernie Portnoy and his wife Chris from Naples, Florida stop by when they are in the neighborhood. Even a short reunion, helps keep a sixty-eight year friendship flourishing .
There were more than five hundred others who graduated from Central High School in the 1952-53 class along with me. At the 50th reunion in 2003, there were eighty-seven names of former classmates listed in the class booklet on the “In Memorium” page. In the 2013 booklet, there was no such page, for it was agreed upon that such an expanded listing would be too depressing.
The physical get together, including the dinner, was spread over many hours, and there were one-hundred forty-five alums at the last reunion in 2013. I was there for four hours, and if I had been able to talk with every classmate, I would have had just a few minutes with each. I have been living away from the Detroit area since 1986 (this time), and at other times from 1960-1962, and 1969-1973. I have not been in close contact with most of the CHS class of 1953. Although I searched for certain friends at that reunion, afterwards, I found to my dismay, that some of those whom I sought were there, but because of the years in-between, I had not recognized them, or they me. Perhaps, they had recognized me, but didn’t want to be recognized.
When it comes to connecting with others at the actual, physical reunion at the Glen Oaks Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan this July, even with a reduced number of attendees, visiting with one another for more than a few minutes, becomes a daunting task.
TRY TO REMEMBER
If you do recognize “an old friend,” that does not necessarily mean that a scintillating conversation will take place. With our memories fading by chance and by choice, many tend to deliberately forget or revise the stories we actually lived way back when.
When I first drove to California in 1960 with a Detroit friend, we ended up in Long Beach where there was a fishing boat accident. Our timing was right, and we photographed the injured captain being taken away by rescuers. We drove down to the Los Angeles Times, and they bought our shots and paid us for them. On my second day in LA, our photograph appeared on page two. Twenty years later, my friend and I were at a party, and after I told this story, my friend bragged about the $250 we were paid. That sum didn’t seem right, and when I returned home, I went through my freelance file and found the duplicate of the Times check in the amount of $25.
I realize that inflation may have occurred, but at gatherings we all may have a tendency to elaborate and enhance the details of what has happened to us in the past.
I expect that to happen to some degree next July.