In a couple of weeks, I will return to Waukesha, Wisconsin to join in the 55th reunion of the Waukesha High School class of 1961. I am looking forward to it. I only get to see some of them every five years at the reunion.
The sad thing is that so few of us will be gathering for the festivities. Indeed, many have died. Most tragic is that two of the women have died since reserving a place at the reunion. One was a friend of mine who I hoped to see, but she died at the end of May. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a high school romance. We were friends. I thought she was beautiful and charming, but all four years of school she was the steady girlfriend of one of the champion swimmers. He is also a close friend of mine so it never entered my mind to try to steal her heart. Nevertheless, I will miss visiting with Nancy again.
I expect to have a lot of fun and renew a lot of old friendships. No, I was not a high profile member of my class. I started as a scrawny nerd with fly-away hair and glasses. In four years I added enough muscle to be average weight for my average height. I did well enough in science, that a lot of my friends asked for my help, but socially was almost a wall flower. The closest I came to a claim to fame was that I second string swimmer and ran 5th or 6th on the cross country team. Nevertheless, I did have a respectable number of friends, some of whom I expect to shake hands with. The athletes at Waukesha High won a number of championships in several sports (including swimming) and bonded together tightly. My friends include athletes from all of the sports teams. Perhaps it is the athletes I look forward to meeting the most.
Another factor is that we are all 73 years old. We will probably vote to hold another reunion in 2021, but by then only a remnant of us will be left. I expect to live well past age 78, but this may well be the last time I see some of these friends.
We are a class without a school. In 1957, we started high school as freshmen at Waukesha High School in a complex of four old buildings that covered a city block. The oldest building had been demoted to storage. One building housed the junior high school. The rest of the junior high building and the other two buildings housed the high school. About 3,000 students jammed into this set of buildings with a capacity of 1,800. This complex became to be known as Central Campus, because a new building was being built on the south side of town. The South Campus was opened in mid November. The freshman and sophomores stayed at Central Campus while the upper class-men moved into South Campus. The two campuses operated as one school. All extra curricular activities, including sports, were open to students of all grades. There was no separation of underslassmen and upperclassmen on the sports teams and other extra curricular activities. As Waukesha grew, they built a Waukesha North and a Waukesha West. All remaining high school students were moved from Central Campus into South Campus. The resulting high school is now known as Waukesha South. Two of the buildings were torn down on the Central campus and an administration wing added to make one of several middle schools for the community. I guess we are technically alumni of Waukesha South High School, but somehow it doesn’t seem right. The buildings we studied in have been severely modified and so has the student body. Now Waukesha South schools only 1/3 of the public school students from the city of Waukesha. Back in 1957-61 there was a catholic high school in Waukesha that drew a few students away from us, but our student body consisted of all of rest of the high school students in Waukesha County except those from Oconomowoc and Brookfield. Oconomowoc had had its own high school for some time. Brookfield had just started its own high school. because we drew students from such a large area, we had a diverse student body ranging from city kids to farm kids.
If you have a reunion coming up, go. So many people are afraid to go for one reason or another. If you hesitate to go, think again. You will have fun renewing old friendships. You will even have fun meeting some of those people who you didn’t know that well. It is also fun to see how some of your classmates have turned out. Yes, most of us men are bald. Some of the women are not the cute shape they used to be. You will not recognize a few except by reading their name tags. You may be interested to learn who has been successful and who has not. At my reunion, we did our share of bragging, but no one put anyone else down. We simply shared in the joy of success and tried to uphold those who had not met their goals.
The class of 1961 spent 4 years together and formed bonds that can only be broken by death. We are pleased to gather together every 5 years.
Reynold Conger is an author of fiction. He writes from a Christian perspective. For more about Reynold and his books go to his website, www.ReynoldConger.com.