Summer is the usual time for many traditional celebrations. These festive times may include baseball games at all levels, holidays such as Independence Day, and Our Town high school reunions. This last mentioned local tradition usually occurs every five years for each class. The normal format has the formal notifications going out, and the featured classes of folks deciding to revisit Our Town. Some don’t have far to come, since they already live here. Some occasionally attend, as long as they don’t have a scheduling conflict with a vacation, business trip, or just economically can’t afford to travel from where they live now. Some folks have never returned for a high school reunion, and they have a myriad of reasons why they choose not to attend the event.
I am one of those individuals who absolutely LOVE to gather with my peeps, and talk about the good ole’ past days, and the good ole’ current days! It is so much fun to renew life-long friendships with men and women, many of whom I have not seen since high school, or since some of our early reunions of the 10, 15 or 20-year variety.
Our C.E. Donart (Stillwater) High School Class of 1965 is currently working on our 55th reunion, presently slated to occur here the last weekend of June, 2020.
Because I greatly enjoy these regular five-year events, I actually headed up our class reunions for five consecutive reunions, #20, #25, #30, #35 and, finally, #40, until I passed the proverbial baton to my fellow classmate, the former Ms. Liz Newbold. This super-organized lady, who worked for the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce for years, did a wonderful job before she next transferred the reunion leadership to our classmate, Ms. Judy Cooke Ricks. Liz had relocated to southwest Missouri, so she felt like Judy, who lives in Sapulpa, could handle the organization better, since she lived closer to Our Town. Both ladies have worked tirelessly over the years for our close-knit group, and we are so lucky to have them on our class team,
The modern electronic age and all the helpful communication it affords, has worked so well in organizing our high school reunion efforts. When I was in charge, the entire process was mostly manual, and very time-consuming. Wow, that was lots of manual letter writing and envelope stuffing! Hours upon hours of looking up possible postcard/letter mail addresses of former classmates in various telephone directories, really hoping they still lived there. Contacting people well-ahead of time is probably the most important factor in a reunion’s total turnout attendance-wise. With plenty of advanced notice, most individuals are able to set that specific time away on their future travel schedules. With widespread use of the computer, people are able to be notified so much more effectively and cost-saving via emails. The other labor-intensive planning factor is the activity schedule for each reunion. A local hotel has to be chosen to provide a “home base” for the chosen weekend. This hotel needs to provide special, reduced-rates for attendees, and usually needs to have a restaurant and/or bar where our classmates can gather to chat between weekend functions.
The proposed activities usually include an informal Friday night sandwich-type function; our 50-year reunion had this event in the SHS All-Purpose Room inside the school. Once there, the atmosphere not only provides a large space for lots of easy conversation, but it also allows our classmates to walk the familiar halls, as they also did long, long ago.
Saturday morning, I microphone-guided a yellow school bus tour for about two hours all around Our Town for about 40 interested people, most of whom had not been back for years to see all our city changes. Saturday afternoon is usually free for attendees to rest, shop, play golf, tennis, swim, go over to local classmate’s homes, etc.
Saturday night is usually reserved for the more formal gathering at a nice venue, with a sit-down meal, a few remarks by a few classmates via a portable microphone, and LOTS of catching-up conversation. Adult and soft drinks are always available with a cash bar on-site. The reunion all comes to a close Sunday morning, after a nice brunch, usually held in a classmate’s local home. Well wishes and hugs are readily exchanged at each function, in the hope we will see each other at least five years in the future at another reunion.
So, I would greatly encourage everyone out there in reader land, whether you reside in Our Town or far beyond, please try to attend your next planned high school reunion. Most likely it will provide you many wonderful memories you will treasure in your mind’s eye forever!
Robert Breedlove is an Oklahoma State University news-editorial journalism graduate, and a former newspaper (including News Press) reporter. He resides in Stillwater, and has for most of his life. He has been a contributing writer to various media over the United States for years. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.