Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Score and Seven Years Ago

I recently had the pleasure of attending a reunion.  Not a college or high school reunion.  But a reunion of my Catholic grade school – the Our Lady of Grace 8th Grade Class of 1964 from Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

LIFE happened in those narrow halls - those classrooms that sat 50 students each - and in the adjoining church.  It’s where we shared our lives, learned together, worshiped together and played together throughout our formative years.  Our classmates were our neighbors.  We knew one another’s parents and siblings.  We grew up together in a simpler time, and we were part of the Our Lady of Grace family.

Forty –seven years ago, 150 of us innocent 8th grade students, left the confines and security of the Catholic school halls we had roamed lined-up in for the past 8 years.  For the first time, we were leaving behind our safe, secure friendships.  We were now parting – splitting - to attend one of a dozen or so high schools in the area.  Traveling our separate ways, but each carrying inside us that solid foundation which was to remain with us for the rest of our lives.

So it was with much enthusiasm that I looked forward to seeing old friends that I hadn’t seen in 47 years!  I must say, and I’ve been told -- to my benefit, and even to my detriment -- that I have a most accurate memory.  I knew just about everyone there…and there were close to 100 people who came out to celebrate our past that day.  What a testament to our happy childhoods!

While enjoying acquaintances, I kept my eyes peeled for a few of my very best friends.  Funny how 47 years can slip by so quickly. 

There she was!  In walked one of my favorite partners-in-crime.  You know, things like prank phone calls (Is your refrigerator running?), eating burgers and drinking phosphates at the drug store counter (each visit paid with a silver dollar “borrowed” from my friend’s much older brother’s coin collection…OMG). 

My friend and I tried our first (and my last) cigarette together.  We sang “Goin’ to the Chapel” in harmony thinking we sounded every bit as “cool” as the Crystals…and we DID!  And by the grace of God, our short bouts of pyromania on my friend’s kitchen table didn’t erupt into anything serious!

We looked for boys together – dreamily, from afar - at the nearby Detroit public pools, at the outdoor ice pond in the winter, and spent many many Sunday afternoons in the movie theater watching every Beach Party movie starring Annette and Frankie.   

Most importantly, we LAUGHED together.  We laughed in church…all the time (in our defense, we had to attend mass EVERYDAY), which invited trouble from the Principal, Sister Leticia.  Even 10 whacks with a ruler on the knuckles couldn't stifle the giggles. 

One time a teacher stopped teaching the class until my friend and I stopped laughing.  We tried to contain the laughter, but as our shoulders bobbed up and down uncontrollably , and the snorts of laughter seeped out, the whole class couldn’t help but join in the infectious, hysterical laughter.

My friend and I have reconnected now.  Lots of laughter again, too.  Phone calls that go on and on into the wee morning hours.  It’s almost as if no time had passed!   We’re still playing catch-up with these crazy lives of ours.  Talk of family, children, ex’s, and how our lives turned out, and how much more we still have to do.