The pavilion is alive with light, music, and laughter all wrapped around a cascade of conversations. The last class reunion we had was the 30th so many of us tried to condense at least 10 years into bullet points. Outside of facebook many of us hadn’t seen each other let alone been in the same building since, well, 40 years ago!
I look around the room and see smiles and laughter; I see brows furrowed in concentration, memories stretching back through the years until the event flashes into the present, the brow smooths and laughter begins. I see my classmates in ways I never did at seventeen. I think back to grade school and see us at D.W. Richardson and being King for a Day in Kindergarten. 2nd and 3rd grade at East Oakview, and 4th grade at Main.
I remember listening to Cheech and Chong’s Big Bamboo in Mrs. Driscoll’s art class in the 8th grade at Highlands Middle School. I remember Mr. Wilson, Mr. Overbeek and Mr. Melpolder. I remember the North Kent Mall as the place to go and many of us hovered there.
We dropped quarters into Alladin’s Castle and dropped dollars at Spencer’s Gifts for Black Light posters and glow in the dark mobiles. We also dropped giggles and titters at the adult games and toys in the back rack. Many of us became entrepreneurs when a store opened up and they had individually wrapped candies in baskets on the wall, each with a name like: Martini, Screwdriver, Highball, Gin & Tonic, (you get the picture). I think they sold for like twenty for a buck. We sold them at school for ten cents apiece. Some of the hard to get flavors went for a quarter. When we weren’t slathering mustard on a Hot Sam or sipping on an Orange Julius we could be found at the Bullock Cart checking out Homespun clothes, pipes, and sometimes weird looking sterling silver jewelry; an eye looking out from a ring was quite popular. My preference was for a silver belt buckle showing Alice and a Hookah smoking caterpillar. I remember going to football games just to socialize, and by that I mean stand at the back fence and smoke. Sports had no allure for me but socializing did because I was painfully shy. It took everything within me to go to those games but it was a start. For myself, being a late bloomer, I never did fully escape my shyness until graduation and all the grad parties once school was over. I remember those fondly because I actually started talking to my classmates. I remember Bob Cunningham’s and Jeff Yaste’s ( I lived next door to him from ‘68-’70.) I think of opportunities taken and opportunities missed. Most of all I think of those days as golden.
I look at my classmates and I see the boy or girl they were; eyes bright and faces flushed with excitement at life being lived full-tilt and unafraid. Northview was in its infancy when we were in ours. It grew with us and Plainfield Twp grew with us. The wide open spaces we ran in and explored gave way to industry and progress that gave us opportunity as we matured. Our successes and failures in high school prepared us for more of the same in marriage, work, parenthood and grandparenthood.
I look at my classmates as we celebrate our class reunion and I see the men and women they are; eyes bright and faces flushed with excitement at life being lived, maybe not full-tilt but with wisdom and experience that still faces life unafraid; mostly because we know who we are, and we know what we can do. We are strong. We are Northview.