Reunion – interesting, not fantastic




I think it’s a good time to write about my recent weekend trip to the Chicago area. I went to celebrate my sixty-fifth high school reunion. I’d been to many other reunions but this one was very different from previous ones. Before we always stayed with a group of former high school newspaper colleagues at the home of Joe and Karen Fell in Winnetka IL – very close to the school we all attended. But in the last few years Joe developed Parkinson’s and slight dementia so they decided to sell their house and move to a house on a lake in Wisconsin. Our place to stay became the Sheraton Hotel in Northbrook IL – also not far from the school. Besides me the Fell’s and John and Judy Riley stayed there for two nights. Unfortunately, others from the high school news staff did not attend – either because they are no longer alive or suffering from cancer and unable to travel. These facts again brought to mind what we all are encountering as we grow older. These were all people I’ve been in close touch with since we all ran the newspaper together and now most are gone. The only ones left are John Riley, Joe Fell, Ann Forsberg who was too sick to make the trip, and me. In the old days the news staff was the center of attention – even providing entertainment one year. Our journalism teacher and newspaper advisor always made an appearance and sat with us at the reunion events. We had lunch with him after the last reunion five years ago. Now he is gone too.

That should have been my clue not to attend either. But I decided to join the Riley’s and Fell’s and travel four hours each way to get there.

The event, planned by several class alumni, consisted of four parts: a Friday morning golf game, a Friday night appetizer and drink dinner at a bar in Glenview IL, a tour of the new school gym on Saturday morning, and a more formal buffet dinner in the dining room of the Wilmette IL golf club. I only went to the two eating events. On Saturday morning Karen suggested we go to a local deli called Max and Benny’s to eat Hoppel Poppel – a potato and meat and onion scramble  that was the best food I ate all weekend. By the way Hoppel Poppel was created in Germany, but a lot of Jewish folks were eating it in the deli the morning we were there.

Speaking of Jewish, my class of over six hundred and fifty students had very few Jews. And that’s how the percentage looked at the reunion. There were about fifty people at each dinner with less than five percent Jewish. Many were the tall and blonde athletes who never bothered to look at and talk to Jewish girls. Though we did talk some at the reunion I don’t remember talking to most of them when we were at school together. The best connection I made on Friday and Saturday night was with the man who was the president of our senior class. He shared with me that he married a classmate though they met after graduation. She died about a year ago, so we both had widowhood in common – there were a lot of widows in the room with the men more talkative about their status than the women. Back to the class president. He was quite friendly and we probably talked more then than we ever talked in high school, but there was no way we will meet again – Chicago is geographically unacceptable. Otherwise, I connected with many of the women there – of course more women than men attended. Some I had known vaguely in high school and some not at all. I found them all very interesting to talk to.

That’s the word. My sister wished me to have a fantastic time at this event. I’d call it more interesting than fantastic. And by the way, the food at both dinners was terrible.

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