Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Nice Evening With A Bunch Of Pirates

I had a pleasant encounter with a group of "Pirates" last evening - Belfry High School Pirates, that is. The 1969, 1970, and 1971 graduating classes of the Pike County, Kentucky High School (now located near South Williamson, KY) held a joint reunion. The get together was held in the former high school building - which now houses Belfry Middle School. Although I only personally knew a handful of the members of the Class of '69, one of them is very special to me. She has been my wife for the past 39 of the 41 years since they picked up their diplomas.

For one reason or another, Linda has never been able to attend any of her previous class reunions. Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball tournaments, wedding anniversaries, and other conflicts had kept her from being able to reunite with classmates over the years.

Since there had not been a 40th reunion last year, a number of the class of '69 members had sought to have a joint reunion with the classes of '70 and '71 this summer. Thanks to their hard work, it all came together last night. The miracle of Facebook played a big role in reconnecting folks, many of whom had not seen each other in 41 years!

Spouses often dread attending their other half's reunions, but I knew that Linda had braved attending my 35th reunion several years ago, and it was only fair that I should accompany her to her own get together. I am glad we were able to go. It was nice to renew acquaintances with the few of her former classmates that I had met throughout the years, and very nice to make new acquaintances. I enjoyed hearing all the stories of high school days, and listening to long time friends catching up on each other's lives. Linda had a great time seeing old friends and even a couple of her former teachers were there.

Besides the excellent dinner of delicious barbecue and fried chicken, I truly enjoyed watching the reactions of grandmothers and grandfathers, who, for an evening, got to be high school kids again! There were numerous puzzled looks as faces were scrutinized and the wheels of memory ground away. Then the puzzled expressions turned to huge smiles as the names and faces were matched with high school photo name tags. Hugs were in abundance, the sounds of laughter filled the cafeteria, and years faded away for a few hours as old friends caught up on the events and family changes of the past four decades.

Each of the three classes had individual class photos made on the front steps of the old building. A memorial time was observed, remembering classmates who had passed away. Awards were given for those who had traveled furthest to attend the reunion. Some had traveled from as far away as the west coast. Many still live along the Kentucky/West Virginia border where they grew up. Awards were handed out to the most changed and least changed males and females from each class, and Linda won the "most changed girl" category from the class of '69. While happy to win the beautiful print of her old high school building, she wasn't sure if her selection was a good thing or a bad one.

"Have I really changed that much?" she asked her friends at our table. They assured her that they had ALL changed, a LOT over 41 years. I am convinced that she won in that category due to the fact that by all accounts, she had been one of the most shy and quiet girls in the whole school. Last night she was simply her happy, outgoing, talkative self that she has become since high school. I'm sure that is what her classmates recognized as they cast their ballots. Just watching her enjoy herself with long lost friends was well worth the four hour round trip.

Nice evening with a bunch of Pirates.

Hopefully we will be able to do this again in 2019 - before we all become septuagenarians!

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