Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Something for Emilie

I received an e-mail from a long-time friend of mine the other day (it might actually be as long as two weeks ago now but I am desperate when it comes to trying to keep track of time). I would refer to her as an "old" friend but given that (a) she is tougher than I am; and (b) appears to have aged about eleven minutes since we graduated from high school together in 1985, I have opted to go with "long-time".

The purpose of Em's e-mail was to remind me that on the evening of October 15, 2011, following the annual Fall Fair/Homecoming at Wardlaw-Hartridge there is going to be a reunion of a decade's worth of graduates. Sound odd? Perhaps to the untrained ear. But when you consider that back in the 1980's most senior classes at W-H had fewer than 60 students in them, not so much. Em is at the tip of the spear of a group of folks - a group that includes Kara - that has taken it upon themselves to put together a reunion designed to bring back as many folks who graduated from W-H from 1980 through 1989 as possible.

The kernel of the idea that gave root to this seemingly massive undertaking grew out of a number of far smaller events that have taken place on the W-H campus over the course of the past few years, including two of them as close as being near and dear to my little blackened ember of a heart as anything can get. First, back in mid-January 2009 the school played host to a reunion of two of its State Championship basketball teams from the mid-1980's. Then last year, also on Homecoming weekend, those of us who identify ourselves as the Class of '85 had our first-ever class reunion. As someone who attended both of those events, I cast a watchful eye forward to 2035 for the Class of '85's next get-together.

All kidding aside, as someone who spent the majority of his school-going years prowling the corridors of first Wardlaw and later W-H, whether on Central Avenue or Plainfield Avenue in Plainfield or on Inman Avenue in Edison (not even counting the time I spent there prior to being a student), whose two siblings closest to me in age (Kara and Jill) graduated from W-H before me and whose mother spent a number of years working there in the Development Office, the occasional return to campus is a good thing. Moreover as someone who watched Dad give his life to the school - his first love - it makes me happy to see that after a very long period of disconnect between its present and its past, W-H has resumed tending to the most important part of its infrastructure, which is its history.

Truth be told, I am among those folks who as of this date has not committed to attending Em's party. There is more than a little part of me that thinks it is an evening in significant part for those who have not yet done what I have done these past several years, which is reconnect to a far more significant degree than I had done previously with a place that was an important part of my youth.

There is also more than a little part of me that feels simply weird contemplating spending a Saturday evening as a welcome part of the populus of the Plainfield Country Club. If I attend it will not be the first time I have stepped on the hallowed grounds of the PCC. It will be however the first time I have not gained access to them via a hole cut in the chain-link fence that separates the wooded area behind what was (and may still be) the Varsity Baseball field at W-H from PCC's golf course. During the Spring of '81 - when I was an 8th grader - more lunch periods than I can count were spent sneaking onto the golf course so that we could catch some rays in the bunkers and eat our sandwiches in the fairways. Some of my fondest memories of 8th grade are those in which I am hauling ass across the course with my dress shirt untucked and an angry groundskeeper in hot pursuit - accompanied by (among others) Dwight Giles and Brian Clare....two friends who share the sad, unfortunate bond of having died too damn soon.

Regardless of how many people actually are in attendance for this particular evening's festivities, all concerned in organizing it deserve a hearty congratulations from those of us who make up the target audience. Kudos to Em, to Kara, to Karen, to Alumni Director Rudy Brandl and everyone else who is part of this project. All of the information you need should you want to get from here to there is, well, right here.

I spent eight years as a student at W-H. All that time I never knew what the school's motto "Cognoscere et Conficere" actually meant (where the hell is Dave Lackland when I really need him). I think loosely translated from the Latin it means, "If you have not been by in a while, then come to the All-80s Reunion. You will see some old friends, have some laughs and enjoy some good food and drink at a reasonable price."

And who said Latin was a dead language? Dad always argued to the contrary. No doubt, right now he is somewhere eavesdropping on this little bit of silliness and he is smiling....

....and probably wearing that same wrinkled old "W" hat.


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