A letter followed me to Virginia last summer, an invitation to the 60th class reunion of Dowagiac High School’s 1954 graduating class in Michigan. We missed the 55th reunion because it is a lot of work to put a reunion together and the home town group didn’t want to do it and I can’t blame them. At any rate, this invitation came with a date of September and with plans already made for the next few months, I was not free to go. It will be the first one I’ve missed. We have had them every five years and I’ve driven or flown from far distant points to be there to renew old acquaintances. It is a disappointment but the invitation brought back lots of memories.
As September 27th approached, I found my senior year book to reminisce. I don’t know if class books are still used or whether students still write notes in them on the last days of school. If they do, I hope they are writing the notes in ink because those are almost the only ones that survived the years. But then again, I’m sure that none of us were thinking 60 years ahead to whether our silly notes to each other would still be legible.
I remember some of the writers of those notes but, “You don’t have to be afraid, Sharlene, I’m sure your body won’t be floating in the bay Friday morning,” made me wonder. First of all, we didn’t have a “bay.” The closest we could come to it was the Dowagiac Creek. I guess she was right. I didn’t float in the bay on Friday morning. A teacher signed, “Be the same comical gal I’ve known you as. Humor has helped me so much in keeping going this year – as you well know! To a good sport, good luck!” Whatever was haunting him I either didn’t know about or I’ve since forgotten. One signed, “Remain so.” I hope that is a good thing. One wished, “Best of luck to a fellow devil” and I’m still puzzling over that!
I was one of the kids that had to ride the bus to town from the lake which took care of being part of a lot of school activities but I made it to a fair number of football/basketball games. I never did learn anything about making baskets with footballs or touchdowns with basketballs but I loved yelling and screaming with the student body.
One of the most interesting things I learned from this reunion invitation was that of my five closest buddies, my best friend was Valedictorian, three others received Honor Degrees and the last one tied with me for 19th in our class of 105, all of us country girls except one. Go figure. We were the 89th class to graduate from DHS; the first class graduating in 1865! The building changed uses over the years and was demolished in 2007.
This is a little of what I wrote for the local paper after our 50th reunion. “We visited the old high school with its magical memories of proms, pep assemblies and Friday night football. The building didn’t look all that bad, a little scruffy, a little weathered, a little tired, but still functioning. It was, well, a lot like those of us who wandered its ghostly halls.
“Old chums greeted each other in joyous communion on Saturday night at the Elks Club, representing 15 States and South America. They came from as many vocations as they did directions, now mostly retired. Mingling through Happy hour brought exclamations. ‘I’d know you anywhere.’ ‘You look just like you did in high school.’ They kindly forgot the added paunch, the baldness, the silver hair, the hesitation, the stooped back, the earned wrinkles, and the pleasing plumpness. Smiles, weathered by life’s storms, were brighter, wiser, and more sincere.”
The humor of the class president fed our laughter as we reminisced, hugged, and wished each other God Speed. We “Sh-boom…Sh-boomed right on out of the Elks Club parking lot and into the night.” I hope you are making it back home to attend your class reunions. They are a blessing. God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”