Reunion let us remember ‘way we were’

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†Iíve been awash with nostalgia since returning from the all-school reunion in Hawley, Minn. a few weeks ago. The reunion coincided with the townís 140th anniversary, so it meant big ďdoings.Ē

I canít explain why, but lately Iíve been digging through boxes to locate old photo albums containing pictures of sixth-grade slumber parties, the junior class play and other school events. Iíve pored over old yearbooks and studied individual school pictures, those mugshots that were taken yearly to chart our growth.

Iím not really sure what Iím looking for, but itís something beyond a trip down memory lane. Maybe Iím trying to make sense of how and where we all ended up.

It wasnít an official reunion for our class of 1974, but there was a sizable turnout considering there were only 54 of us in my graduating class. As I visited with classmates I hadnít seen for nearly 20 years, I was struck by how much I had misjudged some of them.

Take Randy, for example.

He was a quiet loner, a disengaged student who kept mostly to himself. He played the guitar and loved music; beyond that I didnít know much about him, though I recall he always looked pensive and deep in thought. I quite literally had not thought about him since high school, until someone at the reunion mentioned he was now a well-respected psychologist. Suddenly, his demeanor in high school made sense with the profession he ultimately chose.

Iím friends with him on Facebook now, and he posts some pretty thought-provoking stuff.

Then thereís Brent, a nice guy who never left our hometown. He was an average student but apparently always secretly aspired to be a good writer. Frustrated at the Cís and Dís he got on compositions for English class, he had one of the A students write a paper for him and turned it in, in his handwriting, of course, to prove there was ďliterary profilingĒ going on with the teacher.

Brent came clean to Mr. Nelson about what heíd done, and to his surprise got better grades after that. These days Brent posts his thoughts on Facebook, and although his grammar is still atrocious, he writes from the heart and I have a newfound respect for him.

Speaking of writing, I had long forgotten that I had edited Karenís compositions so she could pass Mr. Nelsonís class. She thanked me at the reunion, saying she never could have made it without my tutorial help. Strange that I hadnít remembered that.

Thirteen of us gathered in a shaded back yard on a very warm day during the three-day reunion. Mercifully, weíd left our spouses at home and were free to unabashedly reminisce. There was no competition about who had the best job or made the most money. For those few hours the social lines weíd drawn so long ago were gone and we conversed as if weíd been friends forever.

The weekend was filled with all kinds of nostalgic nuggets. I played in the reunion band directed by the instructor whoíd led us to musical greatness (by high-school standards, that is) in the 1970s. It was pure pleasure to be part of that.

The action was nonstop ó a tour of the new high school, a peek at the renovated historic theater downtown, a street dance and the best fireworks display Iíve seen in years. Hawley did its alumni proud.

There are those who pooh-pooh class reunions. They say they barely survived high school and donít intend to relive it. Sure, most of us struggled in one way or another during our teen years, but I see value in revisiting the past.

With the perspective that 38 years can offer, the reunion allowed me to see some classmates in a completely new light. Whether we were the teacherís pet, the jock, the loner or the class clown, we all headed out from high school with high hopes and aspirations. For most of us, life has been quite the wild ride.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com

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