Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Stories from the 2007 Reunion of the class of 1967, Alton Senior High School (Illinois)–After 40 years?

I had a better time at my 40th high school reunion than I'd any right to have, considering how it was not exactly the peack experience of my life the first time around.

"Well," responded a friend and classmate, "I'd be worried if it was the peak experience of my life."

Because I graduated early, I never attended my high school graduation. And, every time before when I tried to attend a reunion, my plans were foiled in one way or another. Now was the hour, and I didn't even have to fly to come.

What I loved the best were the stories. Curiously, I kept getting thrown next to a man who wanted to tell me his story, and so I obliged by listening and I am here to report.

--MR. FIX-IT--This is the story of a man who is supremely happy with his job. He trained in auto mechanics in high school and repaired cars "until you had to be an engineer to repair all the computer gadgets." A hospital next snapped him up where he fiddled with all types of medical gear to get things in shape. A fix-it man is always in demand, and Swiss Army wooed him away. Now he's eager to go to work each day, happy with the company and how "they treat their workers like human beings," and happy with his role in the world as Mr. Fix-It Man.

--ADDICTION AND ROAD TO RECOVERY--This story had gears within gears, like a watch. The story of an alcoholic and philandering father who broke his mother's heart and led to her death at a young age...and his eventual reconciliation with his father in later years before his father's death. The story of his own addiction to alcohol and recovery. The phrase that led to his confrontation and reconciliation with his father was, "you're letting your father have free rent in your head."

--DEATH OF A BROTHER--In great physical detail I heard about the death of a beloved older brother in a freak greenhouse accident, when he was 43, and the effect on the family over the decades.

--MAN WHO HELPS SAVE SMALL FAMILY FARMS--he inspects the slaughter of organic meats and spends his days with blood up to his elbows...a pacifist...a teddy bear of a man...insuring a niche market.

My shirtail cousin Nancy Jill Stiritz was there and I basked in her sunshine of welcome. Alice White was there. So many faces from orchestra days were there.

Curt Madison from Alaska was there (more on Curt in coming days). Curt was clever enough to bring his year book with him and we not only had great fun looking up photos from 1967, but reading the notes people wrote Curt. Some stories there, for sure!

The effort I've made over the past three years (the time I spent commuting from Northern California after my sister's death in 2004) really bore fruit. Because, I wasn't alone at the high school reunion. I had some pals there.

The one person I wanted to re-unite with most, Raymond Stillwell, didn't come. I'll see if I can look him up separately.

What brought me up short hardest was the list of names of classmates who'd died...and the people I remembered on that list and was so sorry not to see and touch at the reunion.

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3 Responses »

  1. Janet, those are some pretty deep stories you collected. Must be those open ears of yours.

  2. Janet,
    I went to my HS reunion in 2005 and didn't seen anyone from my class of '56! The school was an odd one: Hollywood Professional School which has long since closed down. Starlets and others(like me and my brother) without such aims or talents attended.
    I am glad that your experience was so rich, even without seeing Raymond...but where were the other girls of your HS years? And what exactly is a shirtail cousin? Ah, for these good ol' days of now and yore....Arletta

  3. Janet, is was great to see my name in print and that you 'basked in my sunshine of welcome'. It was great to be all together again. Too bad that other orchestra people were not there, they were the ones who missed out. Hopefully, we'll see them in 5 years. Glad you are back home in Illinois and surely we will see each other soon....Nancy, the shirt-tail cousin 🙂

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