(Host) Graduation time is also reunion time. Commentator Linda DuCharme recently attended hers.
(DuCharme) A few days ago I attended my 50th high school reunion in Hardwick. It had been a long journey, particularly for me, due to a somewhat scattered high school career. My family moved around during those years and the memories of my adolescence are fraught with the misery of, what seemed, constant relocation. Attending four high schools I was always “the new girl.” When I did graduate from school in Connecticut, people wrote in my year book, “Sorry I never got to know you but I’m sure you’re a really great kid.”
But Hardwick was where I started and so it was to Hardwick I journeyed for a rite of passage that had become very important to me.
Over the years I have ever so briefly had contact with only two members of the class and I was a little anxious about the experience of reuniting with a small group of people that were once part of my school family and now in all likelihood would be unrecognizable.
Somewhere in those faces would be several best friends, my first dance – my first crush. I clutched my cheat sheet, the one that lists the names of the class members and where they live now, and prepared to match them up.
I stopped by Hardwick’s new veterans war memorial and checked out the names of those who served, including a few former classmates as well as my older brother, a veteran of the Korean War.
The 1954 class president had prepared a get together at his home to precede the actual reunion banquet. It gave us a chance to put current names on older faces. Through the door came former classmates, tentatively peering into the room with unmistakable anticipation on their faces. Some had traveled significant distances. Two sent regrets due to ill health and over the years five had died.
But out of the 25 original class members, 16 showed up, clearly delighted to be there.
Before heading to the elementary school downtown, everybody took a little time, okay, maybe a lot of time, to get dolled up. We had to look good and that took more doing than it had 50 years ago.
The nicknames came back, Tish, Rabbit, Bobsy. Tish responded to a compliment on how fit he looked. “I do 50 push-ups, 75 sit-ups and run five miles every day,” he boasted. “Really?” was the incredulous cry. “Nah,” he confessed with a hearty laugh.
A classmate who now runs a thriving maple syrup business presented each member with a bottle of golden “fancy” grade.
As we sat at our table in the school gym, we were suddenly a unit again. Those scrawny kids who had once joked around, competed in spelling bees and eventually went to proms together, now discussed joint replacement, cataracts and bypass operations.
Mostly we talked about those years that were so wonderful and demanding at the same time. Those years had made a permanent print in my heart. When the reunion was over we all vowed to stay in touch.
This is Linda DuCharme from Brookline.
Linda DuCharme is a retired assistant managing editor of the Brattleboro Reformer. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.