Monday, October 19, 2015

While Somewhere Pete Hamill Smiles...

Here I must plead guilty to nostalgia,
but not to sentimentality, 
which is always a lie about the past. 
- Pete Hamill 

I am a great fan of Pete Hamill, whose memoir "A Drinking Life" as well as "Downtown:  My Manhattan" should be - I think - required reading.   I could actually make a compelling argument that everything he has written should be required reading but I figured I would give you an easily attainable goal first and allow you to expand your horizons from there.

Saturday was a day awash in nostalgia but wholly bereft of sentimentality.  The annual Alumni Awards Event at Wardlaw-Hartridge was, as it always is, a wonderful, remarkable, and important event.  I am a member of the committee that selects the individuals and the teams that are enshrined in the Athletic Hall of Fame each October, and on Saturday, I had the pleasure of presenting Jay Hoffacker (Class of 1969) for enshrinement.  He was one hell of an extraordinary swimmer - posting in 1968 the fastest time of any prep school swimmer in the United States in the 100-yard backstroke. Prior to meeting him shortly before the ceremony on Saturday afternoon, I had never met Jay - although I had chatted with him via e-mail.  I am pleased that I had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time with Jay and his wife Joanna on Saturday.  He is a great a gentleman as he was a competitive swimmer.  

The honor of being selected for the Hall of Fame was something that clearly meant a lot to him, as it did to the other  members of the class of 2015, Clayton "Chuckie" Mayers and Alarice Cesareo Lonergan.  Each of the three of them spoke of their reaction to learning of their selection and, more importantly, the importance that the school had played in their lives, both while each was there as a student, and in the years since graduation.  

Later that evening, a number of us who graduated from W-H in the mid-1980's got together at Darby Road in Scotch Plains.  While among our group were faces of friends with whom I have had regular interaction over the past thirty years, there were also those among our number who I had not seen since high school.  We had a simply terrific time.  While a small percentage of our time together was spent in the "remember when" chatter that threatens to overwhelm such a gathering, the lion's share of the time was spent discussing one another's lives in the present tense.  Such conversation is reflective of a greater interest in who we are, presently, as opposed to who we were a lifetime ago as teenagers.  

Kudos to our ringleader, Em, for putting the evening together.  While small in size, she remains now that which she was a lifetime ago, which is a person to whom it is very difficult to say "No".  Her energy tends to be infectious.  

And on Saturday night, we were all happy to be under the weather.

Darby Road Pub - Scotch Plains
October 17, 2015 


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