Late-life conundrum: Five or six decades out of high school, how many of us care to partake in a classmates reunion?
Having just gathered the Yorktown High School Class of 1971 for our 45th-year wing-ding, I can say with certitude that for us baby-boomers the answer is…enough, but not most.
Those who did make the journey, however, count as the best—as measured by our evening’s ebullient, snob-free camaraderie on a scale unknown back in our teen years.
‘Tis the season for Arlington reunions. My survey shows that our attendance—some 100 gathered at Marymount University’s dining hall, out of a class of nearly 640—was about par.
We were outperformed by the Yorktown Class of ’66, which drew 125 certified classmates (out of some 450), plus 75 spouses, friends and ringers from surrounding classes the weekend of May 14 at Ballston’s Holiday Inn.
The Wakefield High School Class of ’66 has lured about 150—from a class of 850—who pre-paid for its coming Oct. 14-15 event, its planner told me. Those old “Warriors” are going all out at the Crystal City Sports Club, but they added a more somber event, an insider’s tour of Arlington Cemetery, where many classmates who died in Vietnam are interred.
Our 1971 counterparts from Washington-Lee have booked nearly 70 for their Oct. 21 event in the main hall at Marymount. (I will attend that soiree as an “exchange student,” just as my Generals friend George Dodge showed up at our Yorktown Patriots party, sporting a nametag labeling W-L “the anti-Christ.”)
And our Catholic “competitors” from O’Connell High’s Class of ‘71 attracted an estimated 50 to the Knights’ event at Knights of Columbus the week of Sept. 24, a three-day bash that included a golf outing.
The lack of a majority at these nostalgia fests for the AARP demographic is traceable to multiple factors. Some folks are unsentimental. Others had a bummer of a time in high school and won’t ever go back. Still more are ill, or can’t afford to travel, or had family weddings that conflicted.
But I also blame Facebook. That online community gossip fence, while a heck of a track-‘em-down tool for reunions, offers such an overload of lifestyle self-reportage, it removes some of the curiosity that might incline old classmates to come together in the flesh.
Not all agree. “I didn’t really want to go, but I had a great time, and Facebook is what got me there,” said Kathy Lagassey, O’Connell ’71.
The Wakefield gang bypassed Facebook and focused on Classmates.com, said organizer Kathy Johnson, but that commercial service confused some into thinking that entering their name on that website was registering for the reunion.
Facebook did enable the Yorktown ’71 gang to assemble a “flash mob” Friday night mini-gathering at Whitlow’s bar in Clarendon (site of much high school reunion drama).
The volunteer organizers on our reunion committee did not wallow in hurt feelings when classmates declined to attend. And we took pleasure in supportive messages from people who couldn’t make it, but who were pleased all the same to renew long-distance connections. Our lifelong bonds became tighter when we raised a glass to our deceased classmates.
As for those classmates who attended the reunion but complained about some detail in the arrangements, we’ve assigned them to organize the next one.
If the Nats lose the division playoffs, we fans should protest. Or perhaps their manager should protest.
Proof it can work came to me last year when I found a letter from an old Arlington Little League coach. On June 23, 1971, Arlington Environmental Affairs Department Sports Supervisor Larry Hale wrote to Coach Ralph Whikehart saying, “Your protest of the game between Thompson Van Lines Cubs and Black Knights has been received and reviewed. It is the finding of the protest committee that your protest shall be upheld under Rule 2, Section C of the 1971 Senior Major League Rules. The game in question shall be forfeited to Thompson Van Lines and all subsequent games involving the use of said ineligible player.”
Even a delayed, technical victory can be sweet.