Reunion, The Web That Binds

by Jeanne Penny Sweeney

A cross section of America, that's what we represented. There were entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, small business owners, clerks, bankers, retirees and more. The preachers weren't there -- was that some kind of sign? I'm talking about the Baker High School class of '65 reunion. Most of us were taller and/or broader, but almost no one was smaller. We were bound by our past and a bit of nostalgia.

Dudley, now a banker, controlled the purse strings and wrote the checks to pay the bills. Anne, we all agreed, was the spirit and momentum for the event. Because of her enthusiasm, we wanted to drive or fly from miles away, just to have a party together. Classmates came from all over the world and the United States. Howard came from Korea, Linda from California, Sheila from Texas and Sandra from Minnesota. Many who couldn't come sent warm wishes of regret. Kathy was in China teaching college English. Steve sent a note and a picture of his meeting Prince Charles. Who would have ever imagined that skinny track runner with glasses would be the head of a very large law firm.

The night before the reunion, the classmates began to gather -- some in the hotel bar and lobby and some in a hospitality suite filled with memorabilia. Later we gathered at the "new" Pritchett's -- only it still had the cinder block walls and accordian dividers, to stuff in still more memories. Most of us were armed with the school annual and a list of other attendees. The one feeling we shared that night was that no one would remember us!

Keith said to me with a grin -- "I bet you don't know who I am." I squinted and stared. Those dark eyes were familiar, but the broad shoulders and the earring just didn't fit. He taunted me, "but I was in your homeroom." At a loss, I asked for help. Sure enough, Keith always sat two desks behind (we were seated in alphabetical order). I remembered him as a little short skinny guy who was very active in ROTC. It was the earring that threw me off.

There was the wonderful ride in the yellow school bus over to Baker. Bill had made all of the arrangements. As we wondered through the vacant halls even more memories from the past returned. I told the story of being excluded from a select group who planned to watch some racy movies. They always treated me like their kid sister instead of one of the group. Pam talked about eating lunch in a dark little closet with the "theater" group. Wilson remembered bursting in on a "conference" between two teachers.. Tom remembered a secret padlocked "darkroom" that he and his buddies had wallpapered with pictures of beautiful women. He described it as a place where a guy could go for a late afternoon drink and post the can on a nail in the wall. The cans almost circled the room, he said. The best part of his story was about how he and his friends turned the special room back into a dusty, dirty storage closet void of evidence. This transformation was just hours before the horrified teacher could reveal the "evidence" to the principal. Tom, do you really expect us to believe that story? Bob said he remembers it differently. Wonder what really happened, or even if it happened at all.

Our reunion was a leveling and humbling experience. As we revisited the memories, stories, hopes and dreams, we were reminded of who we were before experiencing the wonders and pains of adulthood. We celebrated our good fortunes and consoled each other for the hardships. Most of us agreed that we wanted to stay in closer contact. The next reunion is planned for the year 2000. In the meantime, we will stay in touch with our semi-annual newsletters. Bob started collecting e-mail addresses that will be published in the next newsletter. Who knows, someday Baker High School Class of '65 might have a Home Page on the World Wide Web of the Internet. Maybe, then, the preachers will visit with us.

Jeanne Penny Sweeney is a graduate of Baker High. She lives on Lake Sinclair and teaches at Georgia College. A version of this article was published in the Milledgeville Union-Recorder on August 11, 1995. The Web page Jeannie dreamed about last summer is now a reality.

December, 1995 JPS