Press-Republican

October 5, 2011

Poem sheds light on school reunions

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time
Press-Republican

— I can’t believe it’s been 46 years since I graduated from Salmon River Central School in Fort Covington. Where have the years gone?

Obe Duprey was senior-class president, and I was vice president. I’d have to look in my yearbook to remember who filled the rest of the offices.

We held a 10-year reunion and had a wonderful 25-year reunion. Two of our teachers attended, Joanne McElwain, the homemaking teacher, and Katherine Sullivan, the English teacher. Mrs. McElwain was always happy and quick to remind you to get that suit sewn by the deadline. Miss Sullivan would stroll around the classroom reading Shakespeare to us. We couldn’t understand what she was reading, but we knew she meant business when she threw the chalkboard eraser at the boys in the back of the room who weren’t paying attention. She has since passed away.

We definitely need to have a 50th. I think it’s easier to get together as you get older. There’s nothing to prove anymore. If you aren’t happy and settled in by this age, you probably aren’t ever going to be. I would say 98 percent of the people there will be chubby or bald or have gray hair, but at least they will be there. We have quite a few who we’ll never see again.

I was thinking about our pending class reunion when I got an email that made me laugh out loud, shake my head and say, “Yes, that’s the way it is.” I’d like to share it with you:

“Every ten years, as summertime nears, an announcement arrives in the mail; a reunion is planned; it’ll be really grand; make plans to attend without fail.

“I’ll never forget the first time we met, we tried so hard to impress; we drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars, and wore our most elegant dress.

“It was quite an affair; the whole class was there. It was held at a fancy hotel. We wined, and we dined, and we acted refined, and everyone thought it was swell.

“The men all conversed about who had been first to achieve great fortune and fame. Meanwhile, their spouses described their fine houses and how beautiful their children became.

“The homecoming queen, who once had been lean, now weighed in at one-ninety-six; the jocks who were there had all lost their hair, and the cheerleaders could no longer do kicks.

“No one had heard about the class nerd, who’d guided a spacecraft to the moon; or poor little Jane, who’s always been plain, she married a shipping tycoon.

“The boy we’d decreed ‘most apt to succeed,’ was serving ten years in the pen, while the one voted ‘least’ now was a priest, just shows you can be wrong now and then.

“They took a class picture, a curious mixture of beehives, crew cuts, and wide ties. Tall, short, or skinny, the style was the mini, you never saw so many thighs.

“At our next get-together, no one cared whether they impressed their classmates or not.

“The mood was informal, a whole lot more normal, by this time we’d all gone to pot.

“It was held out-of-doors at the lake shores, we ate hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans.

“Then most of us lay around in the shade, in our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.

“By the fiftieth year, it was abundantly clear, we were definitely over the hill; those who weren’t dead had to crawl out of bed, and be home in time for their pill.

“And now I can’t wait, they’ve set the date, our sixtieth is coming, I’m told; it should be a ball, they’ve rented a hall at the Shady Rest Home for the Old.

“Repairs have been made on my hearing aid, my pacemaker’s been turned up on high; my wheelchair is oiled, and my teeth have been boiled, and I’ve bought a new wig and glass eye.

“I’m feeling quite hearty, and I’m ready to party, I’m gonna dance ’til dawn’s early light; it’ll be lots of fun, but I just hope that there’s one other person who can make it that night.”

Laughter’s good for your health. Maybe it’ll get you to your 60th reunion!

One last thought, as always, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.

Susan Tobias lives in Plattsburgh with her husband, Toby. She has been a Press-Republican newsroom employee since 1977. The Tobiases have six children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They enjoy traveling to Maine and Colorado, and in her spare time, Susan loves to research local history and genealogy. Reach her by email at writertobias@gmail.com.