by Pat Fridgen
“Hi Ho Silver!” was the theme of the Canby, Minnesota, 25th high school class reunion held on the 25th of the month.
The Western theme included red and white checked tablecloths at a dinner of chicken and ribs though the organizer said she just couldn’t go with baked beans. A musical classmate wrote a song of reminiscing to the tune of “Oklahoma,” our school play. And denim was the dress code.
The crowning touch, was an afternoon get-together for classmates, spouses and children. We were treated to a hayride through town on a wagon. You can get away with this in a small farming community where the streets are nearly deserted at midday. The hay wagon re-appeared at the site of the dinner and program. Forty classmates tried to get up gracefully on or around the bales for a group photo.
One-third of the Class of 1973 plus spouses attended this reunion. The goal of the next reunion, as always, is a 100% turn-out of folks who may be middle-aged physically but young at heart.
Sure to be hits
1. Plan a tour of your alma mater. Our hayride ended at the high school where a staff member supervised our visit. Except for classmates who continue to live in Canby, few had been back to the school since graduation. What a bunch of kids we suddenly became. Memories flooded back. We remembered the oddest details, laughed and commiserated over campus experiences. It was fascinating to explore every nook and cranny of the building. The staff person grinned through it all and asked if the school looked smaller. “Yes!” was the resounding reply.
2. Prepare a master list of classmates’ addresses. This may be expensive and cumbersome for large classes but could be one or two pages for some schools. E-mail addresses are also desirable and should be requested on RSVP cards.
3. Invite teachers as honored guests and pay for their meals. People are interested in what has become of faculty, especially those who have retired. At reunions student-teacher relationships become friend-friend.
4. Track down classmates who moved away before graduation, even those who left in the elementary grades. This can be a real challenge. At the reunion everyone can brainstorm names of lost friends and collect any known information on their whereabouts. Recruit an ambitious volunteer to continue to gather addresses over the next five years (or whenever the next reunion is). Lost friends will be flattered to be found and remembered and it will make for good visiting. We caught up on news with two such friends.
5. Share organizing chores which tend to fall on those who live in the old hometown. But with today’s ease of communication, even those who live farther can effectively do some of the work (compiling biography booklets, planning entertainment).
The older we get, the more nostalgic we become for the good old days of our youth. These tips can help make great the reunion that reunites us with those who shared that special time in our lives.
About the author
Pat Fridgen, former weekly newspaper editor, is now a freelance writer and mom to five children, ages 4-16. Her husband Joel’s job brought them from Minnesota to Pennsylvania, so reunions have added importance.