Call it “reunion fever,” or call us “reunion junkies.”
No matter what one labels us, the Schreiber Class of 1972 has a knack for reuniting.
And we do it in a big way, as evident by our successful 40-year reunion that drew 200 classmates in 2012, and was followed by this summer’s 60th Milestone Birthday Gala at the Port Washington Yacht Club.
It’s been nearly half of a century since the Class of ’72 graduated from Schreiber and we are old enough now to be the parents (if not grandparents) of the kids we were then, and far enough away from our high school graduation to appreciate what we learned growing up in Port and attending its schools was worth keeping.
Our friendships and ties to peers were so central to our lives during a time that seemed so important. With our milestone (40) reunion and all turning 60 this year, we returned to our alma mater as adults, free to appreciate the youth we all once were—a luxury this year’s crop of Schreiber graduates will have to wait 40 years to enjoy.
Fueled by the off-the-charts success of the 40th reunion in the summer of 2012, many members of the class refused to wait another decade to return for the 50th reunion, believing a 60th birthday celebration would be a unique and fun idea. Many admitted that prior to attending the 40th reunion (for some it was the first reunion they attended since graduating) they had some anxiety. Until they came.
Their hesitation is understandable. Forty years etches faces, sheds men’s hair, and enlarges one’s midsection. Will people remember you? Will you remember them. And what will they think?
The wisdom of our years proved, however, that if 40 years has taught us anything, it is not to worry about impressing others. That revelation came sometime during our fifties when we realized “we are who we are”—a simplistic yet profound realization.
It turns out that memories, good and bad, endure. Back then, we were immersed in planning our lives with little heed for anyone who didn’t fit the plan. It also turns out we didn’t need a plan.
Life happens, and it pays no attention to whether we’re ready for it. Forty years ago, our focus had been on desperately trying to fit in, while being enough of a rebel to stand out. Life swung on what people thought of us.
But life plays tricks. Lesson learned: Popularity in high school doesn’t matter now; maybe not even then. What matters is that our lives are all about collecting meaningful experiences. And most experiences you have to not only be open to, you have to create. That’s one of the reasons it’s important that we go back to our high school reunions.
Over five hundred students were in our graduating 1972 class, and 200 of these same students walked into the Port Washington Yacht Club and we all had a chance to seek out the goodness in all, to appreciate each other’s company and to recreate a bond from the past that few have the privilege to experience.
Richard Federman summed it up well when he said: “I felt we were in an episode of Star Trek on a parallel universe where all teenagers wake up from a 40 year dream…For me the fears doubts and insecurities of the teenage years were completely vanquished and found it joyous getting to know so many of you personally as opposed to reputation as defined by the clique mentality of teenage groups…freak, jock, nerd, or where we lived…it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“You haven’t changed a bit,” we all seemed to say, and simultaneously laugh at the lie, silently acknowledging our growing farsightedness, gleaming scalps, and small pouches puckering at the edges of our mouths.
We chatted endlessly of the challenges of parenthood, divorces, retirement, even deaths—all the while sharing magic and communion in having been young together. Dreams came easily then, as the future lay before us. There was intimacy in those days that cannot be duplicated in the present, as these are the people who, at one place in time over four short years at Schreiber, knew our shoe size, favorite cafeteria meal, college romances, favorite eight-track, favorite ski mountain, and (for some), our deepest and darkest secrets.
Weekdays were for serious studying, and weekends saved for keg parties and sleepovers in those days. We not only had hours to spend talking to our friends in those days, but hours of things to say to them. A far cry from our lives today trimming hedges, contributing to 401Ks, or scheduling heart stress tests.
Diana Antlitz Friedberg, one of the class organizers with Linda Masarik Cole, added, “Up until recently, I’m one of the classmates who did not attend class reunions or other events, but after reconnecting with friends through Facebook and other friends from Class of 1972, I realized how foolish I was for not participating throughout the years. There is much to share with one another about our years together in school and conversations spark many memories.”
Susan Walker Deluca added, “No matter how many years have gone by, each time we get together we are instantly high school age again. We see each other as we did back in school—just a bunch of kids. And now we realize we have more in common with each other than we thought we did back in school. We have renewed old friendships and created new ones with classmates we didn’t know so well. Each reunion has sparked us to stay in touch with each other over the years and to cherish old friendships.”
It may have been 40 + years since we graduated from Schreiber and we’re all 60 years of age (the new 40?). George Eliot had it right. It’s never too late to be what you might have been. We can, after all, take a sharp turn off the straight road, even in our vehicular hybrids and head down memory lane. What mattered most was that, on a hot, summer weekend, we all gathered to talk face to face, as adults, as equals, as friends.
Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone has organized the Class of ’72 Schreiber reunions for 40 years with help from classmates who share her passion. She is the former editor of The Port Washington News and a former Port Washington school teacher. She is also a reunion junkie and is proud of it. For more info about the class, visit: http://portclassof72.weebly.com or write PortClassof72@aol.com.