Monday, April 19, 2010

Reflections on a Reunion

Yesterday was the first time I had seen high school friends since I graduated in 1964.  For a lot of reasons, I have not been back to the area where I went to high school except sporadically.   In any event, I had not seen my classmates in all that time.  We were brought together to celebrate the life of one classmate who died in Haiti - while helping kids in a clinic - he was a pediatrician.  Surprisingly there were a lot more males than females at the event - even though the organizer was a female. There were plenty of faces I remembered and a lot who I did not.

The high school was Palos Verdes.  It started in 1962, I was in the third graduating class.

Most of the people who remembered me asked me whether I still play the banjo.  One remembered that at one point I had said from some performance - if you don't like bluegrass would you like to hear Beethoven and then began to play the Ninth Symphony (something which Pete Seeger taught all young banjo players at the time - and one of the reasons I like Bela Fleck - because he thinks of the banjo as more than just a folk instrument).

Here are some impressions.

#1 - I sat next to a guy who was a year ahead of me in school who was a very good long distance runner.  He has been a successful realtor.  He was (and is) soft spoken.   The ones around him were also track people - I was not a very successful runner in high school but did run a couple of years - mostly in preparation to wrestle.  He reminded me that my brother, when he was at Oxy, had taken a group of runners and run them into the ground, trying to psych out some other college runners who were also running with the team.   He knew a lot about the community I went to high school in because he has lived in the community since he was young.  I lived in the community for only about 5 years.

#2 - On one side was a guy (also a track person - pole vaulter) who had a phenomenal memory - seemed to know all sorts of trivia about the track team - who had won a particular meet event - but also about the high school.  While he talked a lot - he seemed to know his stuff.  He would be great at Trivial Pursuit.

#3 - I reconnected with a guy that I wrestled with who is an accountant in Colorado.  He is raising a second family. His two kids both small were with him and his second wife.  Except for aging, he and I seemed to pick up immediately where we left off.  He reminded me of joining me in two bars where I had played bluegrass even remembered the names  - one being the Prisoner of Socrates.

#4 - One of the people who got me there was an Italian  (in a school where the number of any people with a noticeable ethnic heritage was tiny).  He looks a lot like Pavarotti.   It turns out that he went to a concert in LA at the Greek Theater and was mistaken for the maestro when he drove up.   He was ushered into the dressing room and was drinking champagne until a security guy - who he described as about 6'7" Black came in and said "I think we have one too many Pavarottis in here."  But my friend had met the maestro before and so was ushered out, amazingly across the stage to his seats - and as he was walking across the stage began to get applause.   My friend always had an ability to get into and out of situations with an amazing aplomb.  Seems to be he still does.

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