Friday, July 08, 2005


Somehow it just wouldn’t be right to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event and not make some commentary on it. That once-in-a-lifetime event occurred this weekend. I assume it will be once in a lifetime because it was so very long in coming. It was a school reunion. Not a class reunion, but a reunion of just those few who ever attended a very small country school before most of these country schools shut down and the kids were bussed to town.

I’m not sure if our little school was closed down as a result of some kind of feasibility study as so many are today, or if it was because an inspector, in checking the soundness of the structure, hit the wall with a hammer and it went right through. In the original construction of the building the walls were filled with shavings (as was common in those days) but the shavings put into the walls of our school were damp when they were put there and as a result, the walls rotted. So the lifetime of that school was not much more than maybe ten years. So we were bussed off to a town-school where we were splintered away from our tight little group, separated, and re-mixed in with the masses. So few in number that when blended in and re-sorted in such a large school, we no longer had any opportunity to socialize with each other.

So I guess from that time on, we accepted that our paths were unlikely to pass the same way again. But someone realized that the march of time rushes on and finally, a move was made to have this one reunion.

Now there isn’t much to say about the reunion except how pleased I was to see schoolmates I hadn’t seen for such a long, long time. And why I was so apprehensive, I surely don’t know. Because when I saw those old schoolmates, we immediately fell into easy conversation, fluid and funny, with no awkward ‘ice-breaking’ pre-ambles.

So what was the highlight of my day? It was the realization that we are the remnants of an alliance that started in Grade one for most of us. In such a small school, in such a small community we were no more than 35 friends across a spectrum of Grades one to nine, that knew everything there was to know about each other. We knew everyone’s parents, where everyone lived, how everyone lived, and what they did for a living. We knew all their siblings, what kind of vehicle they drove, and what kind of food they ate.

There was too much common knowledge among us to allow for pretense. We existed in an age of innocence and fairness. All simple country folk too involved in baseball, school, and survival to even give a thought to unfairness, indignation, snobbery, or haughtiness. Sure we squabbled over first rights to the five new books in the library, and there were regular disputes about who yelled ‘batter’ first when we hit the ball diamond. And we argued endlessly over seats at the front of the class and seats at the front of the bus. But we had a special understanding and affection for each other that didn’t let any of that stuff get in the way of our loyalty to each other.

No group was so unified, so undivided. We were solidarity in action when "OUR TEAM" was playing ball or competing in a sports day at another school. Busting with pride over our classmates and ready to back their cause in every possible way. A small cheering section, but we protested every move that was not in our favor and cheered wildly for anything that was.

And although many years have come between, and we have not kept in touch, I found that nothing has really changed. As we drifted about during the day, we reconnected with arms flung around each other’s waists as we had done in the old days. I found that in the company of those we knew as children, we let that thin cloak we once wore in order to be cool and sophisticated Grade fivers or sixers slip away, and so many of us admitted for the first time, in forthright conversation, how much we valued each other. Old, well-hidden and well-disguised crushes were revealed.

We spoke with fond remembrance of the pioneers of the district. We remembered them as well. We have all passed the material stage of life and reached the reflective stage, so there were no comparisons of finance, success, or even notoriety. But yes, we did return to a couple of critical points of outright agitation.

One classmate exposed her disappointment when she got sick on the 28th of June and was forced to stay home from school. It was the last day. She and another fellow were in the running for a coveted one dollar prize for perfect attendance. She felt the prize should have been split. She felt she should have got fifty cents. But some forty years later was not too late to add our support to her unfortunate circumstance. During the supper, we yelled mercilessly at the one who pocketed the entire amount, "Give it back, Give it back!" And when those two classmates that were so evidently the teacher’s pets, went to the front and admitted it, we felt better. We booed them for being that way and then applauded them for their honesty.

It was if the joy and innocence we had known in our early years once again descended on each of us. It was astounding to be a part of something that re-established itself with no strain. We fell into easy communion with each other as if only a day had passed.

The rendering of the day was the nostalgic sadness that overtook us at parting time. I think many felt the same as I did. A sadness in the realization that since those early days, despite the passing of many years, despite the numerous acquaintances who have drifted in and out of our lives, only a very few of us have been lucky enough to find friends in our adult years that are as flawless and as great to be with as those first schoolmates.

These were, indeed friends of the heart. That’s what I told them and they all agreed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. May these new memories stay as etched in time as the old.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Desiree said...

I heard from Mom that this was quite the event - glad to hear you also very much enjoyed yourself.

11:56 PM  

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