Redefining The Meaning Of “Back To School”

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Growing Young Again at a Multi-Year 50th Schreiber Reunion
By Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone

From the left; Jimmy Marsano (Schreiber ‘71), Kathy Gallagher (71), Larry Wurzel (71), Nick DeMeo (71), Linda Ragusa DeMeo(73), Andrea Mastrocinque Martone (72), Frank Pirolo (70), Diana Lubin Pirolo (72), Anthony Solomita (71), Evan Sarzin (71), Patty Rauso-Rich (72). (Photo by Alan Dinn-Schreiber Class of ‘58)

The second wave of the Baby Boomers-those born in the 50’s who went on to graduate from Schreiber High School in 1970, ‘71 and ‘72 began to attend their class reunions. First, it was the 10th, then the 20th, 30th, followed by the 40th. Now genuine “seniors”, these same Boomers will be reuniting at their 50ths this summer of 2022, some after postponing their milestone reunions two-plus years due to the pandemic. From teenagers to seniors, we’re decades older now than our parents were when we were in Schreiber!
To say we’ve reached a milestone is an understatement. As the saying goes: inside every older person is a young person wondering, what the hell happened? Reflecting on our 10th and 20th reunions, many people are striving to impress. At the 30th and 40th, many are struggling to self-assess. At the upcoming 50th, it’s just time to profess: “Here’s who I am, for better or worse. Accept me, and I’ll do the same for you. Oh, and by the way, aren’t we so grateful that we’re still alive and can attend our 50th”?
Unlike the younger generation glued to their social media via their smartphones, we will meet up face-to-face at the Port Yacht Club this summer, squint at each other’s nametags, shriek with recognitions, hug each other warmly and then talk pretty much nonstop. Countless sentences will start with the words: “Remember when we….?” Classmates will drink, eat, dance, laugh, cry and ask how all those years went by so fast.
Our Baby Boom era is noted as having the largest graduating school classes in Schreiber’s history (550 +) and who all grew up at the heart of what we were repeatedly told was the most wonderful, memorable years in history: the 50s through 70s. An era that evolved into a large group of small-town kids who grew up in an ethnically mixed, North Shore community where we had good manners, worked hard and were largely unsupervised early on because the town was so safe. The town looked out for us, and we thrived.
And let’s not forget the world felt more safe and secure because of Fred Rogers.
The iconic ‘70s-when we witnessed the Women’s Liberation Movement, the success of the Civil Rights Movement, the beginning of Gay Rights, unprecedented space travel, the introduction of the Apple computer, Woodstock, 70s’ fashion and more. Anyone remember the first Earth Day where we slept in tents in front of Schreiber High School?
Sure, it was a decade that will mostly be remembered for Vietnam and Watergate. But, for those of us who grew up in the ‘50s through ‘70s, it was the sweetest time to be alive, an innocent era where disco reigned supreme, and we all had haircuts that made us look like Chia Pets. From the glorious simplicity of pet rocks to the British Music Explosion, there were countless reasons the 50s through 70s were the absolute best years to be a kid growing up in the era and in “Port.”
Let’s reflect on some facts about our childhood that the Generation Z can’t identify with:
• Music came in vinyl, cassette, and 8-track.
• We’d head to the video arcade with a pocket full of quarters. Later, Pong addiction.
• A private phone call depended on the length of your rotary phone cord.
• We were allowed outside without parental supervision.
• Saturday mornings were reserved for cartoons
• Nobody was cooler than the Fonz.
And remember the energy crisis of the 70’s? Our families (and those of us who had our driving licenses) had to line up to buy gas every other day, according to your car’s license plate number. Maybe you also remember gas stations having green flags to indicate they had gas, and red if they didn’t. As a result of the two episodes of gas shortages, (1973 and 1979), the price per gallon of gasoline in May 1973 was 38.5 cents a gallon. By June of 1974, the price of gas had skyrocketed to 55 cents.
Looking back, while we were generally a great bunch of kids, our only real vice was secretly poking fun at the geezers who occasionally returned to town for their 50th high school class reunions. They limped around on canes with snow-white heads and big, pouchy bellies. They looked…. well, old.
“Smother us if we ever get like that,” we whispered to each other. These people were nearly 70 years old. Becoming such a fossil was an impossible future to ponder when you were 18.
So, we went on to live lives.
Most of us went to college, some went to technical schools or became entrepreneurs or joined family businesses in town or in another state. Some stuck around and some settled far away.
Most found life partners, raised families and made a good life for themselves. All were broadened and sobered by the trials and joys of their personal lives and the amazing, ongoing, tumultuous evolution of our cherished years of growing up in Port Washington.
And then one day, we woke up to an invitation to come back to our hometown for the BIG class reunion. That’s when it hit us. In the blink of an eye, we’d become the geezers we never thought we could be.
This summer, three Schreiber classes will be embraced by classmates we have known for at least 50 years—and some you’ve known for 65 years, since pre-school. We’ll tell story after story, take photo after photo, have hug after hug. After it’s all over, we will be aglow with something profound, deeply bonding, almost tribal.
Linda Papasidero D’Elia of Schreiber Class of ’70 reflects, “Shared childhoods are some of the most important experiences in a person’s life. Yet, today we have more in common than when we were young adults. We have all processed births, deaths, love lost, love won, successes, failures and the complexity of a changing world. Who better to share this with than the people who knew us when we planted our roots, before we were given our wings to fly?”
Larry Wurzel, Class of ’71 says, “I always felt that your old friends are your best friends. You knew each other as young people, not as neighbors or business associates or new friends. There is a bond that is not disturbed by outside influences. No reintroductions are needed, you are comfortable with each other right away, even if you haven’t seen each other for 50 years. Rekindling old friendships or starting new one with the people you grew up with is just something special.”
Karen Sokoloff-Messinger, Class of ’72 says, “I haven’t lived in Port since I graduated from college, but every time I return I still feel like it’s home. The experiences that we had are the foundation of who we are today. When we are at the reunion, we will have the opportunity to connect with those who are part of our formative youth. We might even remember people’s names which will be a refreshing change because, let’s face it, we can’t remember anyone we met last week!”
50th reunion celebration links:
Class of 1970–June 11, 2022-Port70reunion@gmail.com (at Hendricks Tavern)
Class of 1971–Aug. 20, 2022-Facebook page: Paul D. Schreiber High School Class of 1971, lawrencewurzel@gmail.com, at Port Yacht Club
Class of 1972-Sept. 10, 2022-schreiberclassof72fiftyreunion.weebly.com, SchreiberClassof72@gmail.com, at Port Yacht Club

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