The High School Reunion

Growing up in Binghamton, as I’ve probably mentioned, most of the kids started school in September. But there were also kids who started school in February; I was one of those kids.

My grade school was Daniel S. Dickinson. Actually, I was there from kindergarten through ninth grade there, before moving on to Binghamton Central.

I got the notification of my reunion of my high school class – 35 years! – with some trepidation. I don’t recall enjoying my 10-year reunion – although the afterparty at friend Cecily’s more than made up for it. I didn’t go to my 20th, I didn’t even hear about my 25th, and I found out about the 32nd (?!) only after the fact.

Yet, I had a really good time at this event. With no disrespect to the others, I think it was based on three factors, well, four:
4) time
3) the group of people from the January 1971 class, thanks to the grand effort of Susie, the only one of the five on the reunion committee not from the June class
2) the group of people from Dickinson, such as Mike, who lived less than three short blocks from my house, and Donna, who practically lived just behind my grandma’s house

Mike and Donna

BUT #1 had to be the group of people who I started kindergarten with at Dickinson in February 1958 and graduated from BCHS with in January 1971. There were eight of us, and SIX of us showed up: Karen, who’s been to six continents; Carol (not my wife), who’s done lots of work with AIDS; Bill, an engineer who isn’t engineer-type geeky; Bernie, the retired fireman; Lois, who, in addition to her job, is a zoo docent, and me. Only Irene and Diane didn’t make it. Given the fact that we spent 13 years together in a relatively tight environment (16 in our 6th grade class, 16 in our 9th grade class, and less than 120 in our graduating class at Central), it was the first time we had all been together since we graduated. (Though five of us, all except Lois did get together at Bill’s in 1982.)

Carol, Lois, Karen, Roger, Bill

There is a lot of stuff that people who know other people for 13 of their first 18 years of their lives get to know about each other. After all these years, I’d recognize these people anywhere. Well, all of them except Bernie, who was the most mild-mannered kid you ever wanted to meet and who is a tad more animated.

Carol, Lois, Bill, Bernie

The first day of the reunion I took the bus to Binghamton, in order to get there earlier. My friend Cecily picked me up, and after lunch, saw the devastation to just a few homes in the Conklin area, and the water damage in a house she now has on Front Street that had never flooded in 100 years, but was quite damaged in the lower floor after the July rains. There is a housing supply place just across the street from where I used to live, on Gaines Street, which was just a wholesaler, when it opened in 1969, a couple years before I went away to college, but which is now also a retail operation.

Cecily dropped me off at some club on State Street called Boca Joe’s/Flashbacks. The place was ALSO having, in a separate room, the BCHS class of 1966 reunion, which caused some confusion. I won’t give you a play-by-play, except to note that, at some point, wife Carol and Lydia, showed up. There was a colored light dance floor which Lydia and I danced on for a bit, joined by friend Donna. By then, all of my Dickinson compatriots were there, but I didn’t get a good chance to talk until Carol took Lydia home. The event was supposedly from 5 to 9, but we were all there, eating greasy pizza, dried-out spiedi meat and unremarkable chicken wings, and talking about old times and current lives until well past 11.

(It was that night that Cecily, John, and wife Carol, dealt with the bat.)

Night #2 was at The Relief Pitcher on Conklin Avenue, in a strip mall with an Eckert’s drug store. It was in a separate room from the rest of the building and was a better venue. We ate, much better food than night #1- chicken, ziti, salad, roast beef, sausage and onions. But mostly we danced. Karen couldn’t come because she was going to a family wedding. Friend Carol had another obligation, but she ended up coming late, and she, Bill, Lois and I dominated the dance floor. Others joined in, notably Donna, but the four of us probably danced at least half the dances, and would have danced more, except the band leaned heavily on the late 1950s and early 1960s, rather than the late ’60s and early ’70s. At the end, we all stood in a circle and sang along, at someone’s request, to American Pie, friend Carol took me to Cecily’s, again close to midnight. (I haven’t come home close to midnight two nights in a row since I married my wife Carol, I’m fairly certain.)

Bob and his wife. He thought he’d get great Italian meals from her when he met her. Instead, he gets great Afghani meals.

In any case, a splendid time was had by me, and yes, Susie, I will consider coming to the 40th.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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