Sunday, August 20, 2006

Going "Home" Again, Part II: My High School Reunion Picnic, 8/13/06

Last Sunday, I journeyed into the past. Like Thomas Wolfe and many others, I have dealt with the question of whether one can go home again, and both question and answer grow more complicated as time passes.

The home I sought last Sunday was the one I left at the age of seventeen, when I went away to college. That was fifty-six years ago, and other than a few summer vacations and short visits long ago, I never lived there again. The occasion was the annual reunion picnic of my old high school, Whitewater (Wisconsin) College High School.

The school, a "training school" for what was then Whitewater State Teachers College (now the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater) closed fewer than ten years after I graduated, so there are no new graduates. The surviving graduates are all senior citizens now. This picnic is canes and walkers and 40's and 50's music, not frisbee-playing and young children. This year, there were two or three attendees who graduated in the late 1920's, before I was born, so this group almost makes me feel young again.

With class sizes under thirty students (ours wasn't the only high school in town), we were and are a small group. I was the only reunion attendee from the class of 1950 (see my graduation photo above). Last year there were three of us (of the original twenty-one). I know that four or five class members are deceased, and one is recovering from an operation, but I wish more of the others had attended.

Anyway, the reunion was well worth the approximately one hundred mile drive. I joined five or six members of the class of 1951 and one from my brother's class of 1952, only one of whom I've kept in touch with, and enjoyed a bit of reminiscing. It was no surprise that most of the others enjoyed their high school days more than I, the ultimate shy nerd, did. I can laugh at my old self now. For me, high school was not "home."

Physically, the school no longer exists, and in my memory, it grows more remote as the years pass. Home now is Chicago, and returning here required only a drive in heavy traffic. I didn't mind that, and I'll probably attend next year's reunion picnic.

Copyright 2006 by Marlys Marshall Styne

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