The weekend was perfect. The weather couldn't have been better for my class reunion. We left Byron early on Sat. and checked into the hotel. We rested for about an hour and then got ready to go. The celebration was to take place at The Centre in Elgin, Illinois. This is such a wonderful building, housing an aquatic center and all kinds of places for sports activities for families. It was the first time Joe and I had been at this facility. Our event was to take place in the Grand Ballroom. We walked up to the double doors and a table was there with booklets rolled like diplomas with a gold string...for each of the class members. We were given name tags. This year they included our pictures from the yearbook. So much easier to look at the name tag and see the person's face, so you could put the two together. There was so much talking and reminiscing going on before we ever entered the room. We found one of my best friends from high school and her husband before we even entered the room. We had talked earlier and planned to sit together. The round tables were decorated with tablecloths and centerpieces of big glass vases filled with flowers in fall colors. Leaves were scattered on top of the table. Very pretty. We picked out our table and then started looking around the room. We "worked the room" as Joe says.....finding old friends at every table. We talked about our memories with so many classmates....recalling so many funny things from our high school years. My jaws hurt from smiling and talking and laughing, when the night was over. Joe and I were only two years apart in school, so we know many people from each of our classes. This makes it so much more enjoyable for us. Neither of us likes to sit at the table...we both like to move around and see everyone. Someone stuck a signal with their water glass and we all went to our tables and stood for a prayer before we began to eat. Then the food was served. Appetizers were passed...water chestnuts wrapped in bacon and mini quiches. We didn't eat too many and I'm glad, because the portions of food were so big. We picked between fish, chicken, or pork. Now, I must tell you that Joe ordered stuffed chicken breast, but when he looked across the table a plate with the most delicious looking pork was given to the fellow across..the guy across said "Whoa!" and Joe's eyes got big as dollars. I said to him, "Maybe you could ask the waitress if you could change your choice." He did and she brought him this delicious plate with a huge portion of pork. We had salad, our entree, and then the dessert. It was served on a big table at the end of the ballroom. Desserts of all kinds..cheese cakes, carrot cake, choc. cake, cakes with butter cream, pecan tarts, cakes with strawberries on top....so many luscious looking desserts. Most everyone had room for dessert :)
While we were drinking coffee, our witty class president gave a short funny talk...he said that he knew that we all wanted to visit, so he wouldn't keep us any longer. Our class sponsor was there. He is approaching his 90's and his talk was so precious...he said that he had enjoyed our class...he said there was no other class like it...1956 was the "good old days" and there will never be a class the same as ours. He said that he hadn't slept the night before...kids faces kept going through his mind and he was putting his memories with those people together. He is legally blind, but if you sit with him and just say your name...he remembers you and what you did in high school. He told us that this would be his last reunion with us...in five years he didn't think it would be possible to come. When he ended, he was given a huge round of applause and a standing ovation. Quite a few tears in the room after that speech. He was a most loved teacher back then and now. We visited some more...girls that I had for friends in school came over to our table and we talked about our lives since school.In our day, families didn't move around very much. These are girls that I went to grade school with..we grew up together in a little community called Sunset Park. One of our dear friends lived nearby, but was at our neighborhood all the time. We talked about old friends that had moved away...friends who we would love to see again. Our conversation was about what we are doing now...what our interests are. We talked a little about our kids and grandkids, but not very much. This was a night to talk about us... not like a few years ago, when kids were about all we talked about. No one is working anymore...no one trys to impress anyone. Just honest talk about our lives. When we left it was decided to have a 75th birthday party in two years. So many are on the deceased list. Over 100 from a class of 400, I think. We all wanted to get together for a "casual" reunion in two years, because who knows what is in the future for any of us. I hated to leave...we left with promises to meet again for dinner after the holidays. We left and went to our hotel. Lying in bed, Joe and I talked about our thoughts about the people we had just spent the evening with. It was so much fun. We were a great class.
Sunday morning and we had to find a Church with a convenient Mass time. We decided to go back to the Church where we were married. We were early, so we drove around Elgin and saw where we had lived and then my parents home. After Mass we went to a favorite restaurant for a late breakfast. My omelet was wonderful...it was filled with bits of smoked bacon and cheese, chipotle sauce and salsa on the side...with slices of avocado on top. We spent a lot of time there just relaxing, and then decided to do some visiting. The couple that stood up for Joe and I, when we married, live nearby...we always stop to see them when we are in Elgin. They are dear friends, going through some challenging struggles right now. They are basically home bound, so they love company. This friend of mine decorates their house so pretty this time of year...so it's always a treat to drive up their street and be greeted by all the orange fall decorations. Little Buddy greets us at the door with his cute puppy face. The living room is full of fall and Halloween pretties. The two of them graduated in Joe's class, so they know lots of people in my class too. We visited and told them all the news. When we left, we had one more stop to make. Joe's Aunt Christine lives across town and we try to visit her often too. She has had some heart problems, but she's able to keep her own house at 87. When we walked in, she was making beef barley soup from scratch. The house smelled so good. We visited with her...and she shared a recipe from Joe's grandma. She lives for visits like this. It seems that she and Joe try to outdo each other with talking about their family memories. He laughed and said that people have thought that they are mad at each other when they talk...it's just their old Italian way with hand gestures and non stop talking. It's really fun to watch...she has a memory like no one else. Sharp as a tack.
We felt so good, coming home. We approached Byron and Joe said, "Are we home yet?" It felt so good to come into the house and put on our "grubbies" and sit and relax. What a whirlwind weekend of non stop talking. We were tired and it felt good to just sit in the quiet.
If you're still with me, I have to say that I've never been one to enjoy getting together for reunions and remembering the old days. I have always liked to look forward and enjoy today, but I've changed in my older, wiser years. This reunion was so special. I didn't pay attention to who had changed, who was older looking, who had the most wrinkles, whose hair turned white... none of that. I looked at each person and thought how they had figured into my life and helped to make me the person I am today. I'm so glad that I decided to go.