Saturday I attended the 60-year reunion of the Mary D. Bradford High School Class of 1962.
It was a great time.
I lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, only a few years, from 1957 to 1962. I arrived as an eighth-grader at Lincoln Junior High. So my friendships among high school classmates were not of the kind that went all the way back to first grade.
But one of the things you learn when you are old, Dear Reader, is that it’s always great to gather with friends you have known for more than half a century. Even if you hardly knew someone way back then, you have so much in common sixty years later! So, at a reunion you can bond closely with someone you hardly knew in days of yore.
It’s hard to explain, but mere propinquity (as Zelda Gilroy would say) six decades ago can cement a relationship in the here and now.
Our class started with 831 freshpersons and graduated 537 seniors. In those days, there was a lot of attrition.
At least 147 of our 537 graduates have passed on—a frightful toll, considering that we are only in our late 70s. Of the remaining 390, some are now in poor health, while others live at a great distance.
Among the 75 classmates who showed up for this year’s reunion, there were many whom I remembered, and who remembered me. None of them were especially good buddies sixty years ago—but they were long-lost pals now!
Wayne Blackmon was there, who used to sing a very suggestive verion of the innocent 1920s song, “Does Your Mother Know You’re Out, Cecilia?” I exchanged greetings with Armand Mattarese, our legendary quarterback, who also shared a beachfront beer-and-bonfire bash with me and a few nice girls on our graduation night.
Rose Marie Pellegrino, who used to be one of the real spark-plugs of our class, spoke with me of the books she likes to read. She commended Louise Penny’s mysteries to my attention, and I mentioned to her Romain Gary’s excellent 1961 memoir, Promise At Dawn.
I learned of the lives, the trials and triumphs of classmates Sandy Zacho and Lucille Turco. Len Iaquinta put in a good word and followed up with an offer to connect me with a Southeast Wisconsin podcaster. Abby Cohen Schmelling was fascinated to hear I had written a novel based on my family’s genealogy.
Walter Modjelewski had a wonderful long career in the metal castings business and is doing great. We exchanged health info. “I take nothing,” he said. I’m in awe. I think I’m healthy, but I depend on three or four regular pills.
Joyce Sawicki, a beautiful girl then, is still a knockout–and a caring friend.
Some of my Class of ’62 friends even knew about my forthcoming book, said they had pre-ordered it, and wished me good luck.
But selling books was not the main point of the exercise. Mainly, I was just glad to learn I was not the only survivor.
Larry F. Sommers, Your New Favorite Writer
Price of Passage
Norwegian Farmers and Fugitive Slaves in Pre-Civil War Illinois
(History is not what you thought!)