Recpaturing Your Childhood

As far as I am concerned school reunions are all about recapturing your childhood. High school reunions are especially that way. The people that you graduated from high school with are people that you spent a great deal of time with. In some cases you spent a full 13 years.

Our class recently celebrated our “70th birthday” reunion. Most, if not all, of us were turning 70 sometime during this calendar year. There were people who showed up for this one that had never come to anything before. I happened to sit with two of these people. We had a wonderful visit catching up and reminiscing. Although we had not been best friends years back we had a lot to talk about because we had similar memories.

The community that I grew up in has changed a great deal over the years. Urban renewal did a lot of damage. Whole blocks of homes and buildings were swept away. My grandfather used to get lost when he ran errands. When I looked at what had been done it is no wonder. All of the landmarks that he was used to were gone.

I think many of us who visited felt sad. While we did not expect the town to be exactly as we left it, but we expected to see more of our favorite spots. The places where we had functions were a couple of the older places. Our big dinner was at the country club which we shared with a wedding party as well as another big gathering. Our “tent” spot lent itself well to our informality. Saturday evening was at one of the little clubs that had been part of our growing up years. We had an upstairs room all to ourselves. We ate and visited for hours. Personally, I made it around to talk to most of my classmates and their spouses that have been part of the gathering for years.

I have been to every high school reunion except one. I did not make it the year my husband was on chemo. We traveled back from Cleveland the day of the reunion. I have been to all of the others. Since my husband was a dairy farmer we always arrived late. He had to get the chores done before we could go. We sat wherever there was room and visited with whomever we sat with. After the formal part of the event we wandered around so that I was able to visit with friends.

At this reunion we each received a book that updated us on the whereabouts of our classmates. I now have addresses and phone numbers as well as email addresses to keep in touch. I do not do Facebook or Twitter, but I email. There is a group of classmates that meet for lunch every month. I live close enough that I just might try to attend some of those lunches before the next formal reunion.

The list of deceased classmates was even longer than it was at out 50th reunion. We are all of an age where illness can strike, yet we know age is no barrier. Some of our classmates died very young. All of my closest friends are still around so there is much to look forward to since they return for the reunions.

I am fortunate to have family that still lives in the area so I get to reconnect with them when it is reunion time. My cousin and I had a wonderful personal reunion. We visited one of the local establishments and had a very nice breakfast. I am not sure what that building on 4th Street used to be way back when. The area nearby is mostly new construction.

While I lived in town the downtown area was busy. I worked first in Sidey’s and later in Kobacher’s. I remember the Safe Store, too. My classmates and I reminisced about Cease’s and Kresge’s. We also recalled having snacks in Candyland and West Drug. I especially liked the chili from West Drug. I often ate there when I worked at Sidey’s.

My grandfather worked at Ehler’s, another family run business. My mother worked first at Briggs Dairy – I noticed it was gone, too – later she worked at Koch’s Brewery.

Probably the place I miss the most is Mrs. Rapp’s candy shop at the corner of 4th and Park Ave. She had the best Easter candy that I ever found. Sorry to say the recipes died with her I believe.

A run by the high school told me all that is left is what used to be the newest portion of the building. There is a nice newer facility on 6th Street, though.

It is fun to look around and see what remains. The neighborhood where I grew up is still a nice family neighborhood. I even have a friend who still lives there although she and her family bought a home further up the block.

If you want to go to Point Gratiot you now have to drive the opposite direction. It has been that way for a while now. When I come to town I always drive around there. We used to spend a lot of time at the beach.

When classmates gather what do they talk about? We catch up with family status but mostly we talk about “those high school years” that we shared.

Some people do not like reunions but I am not sure why. I like reliving the past while securely rooted in the present. My life goes on, but for a moment in time I am young again.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at