Chat with Deb (It Was a Good Day)
DEB: That was so much fun, honey, thank you!
ME: Thank you, Debster, I could never have done it without you!
DEB: Well, hopefully you wouldn’t try. I’d feel left out!
It was a good day Saturday. Not that other days are bad days — yet—but as functional days go, Saturday was better than most. And I did not expect it to be.
I went to school in a small suburban town north of Chicago. From junior kindergarten through 8th grade, I (and a few dozen other kids) went to the same school, Joseph Sears. Same building, different parts.
I spent more continuous years with some of these folks than I did with anyone else before I married Deb. And I never really appreciated all that until I went to high school, where I found that I was a bit odd and worthy of being picked on. My Sears classmates never told me that. I don’t think they noticed. I was just Jack, was all.
So when Walter Calhoun¹, one of our classmates, started communicating with classmates a year or so ago, it felt okay. Walter found out when various birthdays were, and sent out broadcast emails, sharing old memories and encouraging people to do the same. Names were added to the list as someone who knew someone got in touch with someone else. Until by the start of 2022, out of 72 graduating classmates, we had contact information on all but five (plus three deceased). And another seven who moved before 8th grade graduation in 1972.
Other classmates got the idea to put together a 50-year reunion. These folks, having grown up to be the kinds of people who Got Things Done, got things done. And so I was invited to our reunion in Illinois.
I was… mildly terrified at the idea.
DEB: Honey, you did not want to do it. At all.
ME: But I started to get used to it!
I was asked to help with techy stuff. Could I put together a class of 1972 video, similar to what an earlier class had done? Um, sure, why not, I can just ask people to send me photos and videos, I don’t actually have to show up. Could I find a way to share photos and things? Yep, sure, I could put together a website, that would not be hard these days; post photos and videos and documents and such. No need to show up in person. Although really, no reason I couldn’t, I guess, really.
DEB: Jackster, we could make it a multi-day visit. We always talked about seeing Chicago, but when your parents were alive and we were working there was just never time. We can finally do that downtown architectural tour by boat. Maybe we can see [niece] and her family. We can book the flights, and if you’re up to it we’ll see the Sears gang, and if you’re not we can make excuses.
And maybe I wouldn’t have an anxiety episode or something. I’ve been having more of those the last few years, it’s why I retired early. Too much mental confusion on Bad Days.
I do better with offline communications. I can take a minute or two to find the right word, rather than blurt the wrong one and see confusion on the listener’s face. I can take a break if working a problem suddenly feels beyond me.
But… well, if anyone was going to cut me a break, it would be my old Sears classmates, eh?
So we flew to Illinois on Friday. Saturday morning, we joined classmates and significant others in a tour around our old school, a trip that was part “OMG I can’t believe that’s gone!” and “OMG I can’t believe that’s still here!” And lots of, “Hey, remember when…?” conversations.
DEB: People just talk to you, honey. Like it’s been no time since you guys last got together. That is so cool!
Deb and I drove around old neighborhoods. I pointed out where I’d lived, where classmates lived, and other places of interest. My wonderful wife humored me wonderfully.
Then we were off to a local country club where the reunion dinner would be held.
I had tasks. I had been asked to set up two slideshows for large-screen TVs, showing whatever I thought appropriate (in this case then-&-now photos of the graduating class, and a mix of old and new photos of everything from old French classes to ski trips to home room photos), so I got there early to make sure those were working. I also needed to be floating around the room all night to take stills and videos that I could use in the later Class of 1972 video. This was good. I could be busy, I would have jobs to do, I could be a techy and not have to worry about pretending to be a real person that night. Because sometimes I have trouble carrying that off, these days.
Funny thing happened.
Turned out I did not have a problem being a person with my old classmates.
TOM TERRILL: (checking out the room before people arrive) Jack! Wow, those slideshows are great! Could you maybe slow down the one just a bit, the group photos are going by too fast, people are going to want to study them a little.² Thank you so much for doing them!
. . .
SUE HIERING: (standing next to me for a group photo) Hey Jack! Thought that was you! I saw you from across the room, I knew it was you, you have the same moves and mannerisms that you did fifty years ago! Good to see you!
. . .
TIM FLENTYE: So what I’m thinking is, we could start wargaming³ again if we just get you and Paul together — you still have all your old wargames, right?
. . .
SARAH SIMMONS: (on seeing me walking around the room with my phone in camera mode) Oh, please don’t tell me you are taking pictures instead of having a good time!
ME: Okay! (so I don’t tell her) (well, until she reads this — sorry, Sarah!)
. . .
LYDIA EAST: Hey you! (hugs me) Thank you for helping us put this all together! I saw some of your writing online and I loved it!
. . .
ME: (to Paul) Is it just me, or when you look at the then and now slideshow, do the gals seem to have aged much better than the guys?
PAUL BLACKBURN: Selection bias. You picked the prettier photos for the women.
ME: Ah. And I leaned toward, um, “interesting” shots for the guys. Valid point.
. . .
SUE MCINTYRE: (talking to Deb) Just so you know, your husband got me through 7th grade science, Mr. Bogen assigned us as partners and I thought, “Whew! I have a smart partner, he can get me through this,” and it all worked out!
. . .
DEB: (talking to Tom Terrill) So Jack is driving me around, and we’re going down streets and he’s pointing to places and saying, “That’s where Tom lived, that’s where Andy lived, that’s where Peggy lived…”
. . .
PEGGY GOSS: (speaking to Deb) So, you should know your husband was the first boy who broke my heart. I had a crush on him, and I wanted to invite him to lunch at my house, and my mother talked to your mother and she asked you and you said, “No, thank you.” Broke my heart. Of course, it was junior kindergarten so we were, what, five? Still… (dramatic sigh)
. . .
DEB: Honey! Jackster! Don’t you want to video this?!
ME: Oops oops oops oops….
I missed a lot. Too busy talking to people. Catching up. Enjoying the moment. Who knew?
So I’ve put out a general call for photos and videos from that night. I think it’ll be fine.
¹Walter is one of those people who gets things done. Walter is one of those people who, when confronted with a pile of horse manure in his living room, starts looking for a pony. Walter is one of those people who finds the damn pony.
²Tom was correct, I made the slide delays too short. Even after I doubled it, Sue Hiering asked me to slow it down again.
SUE: Sorry, but we’ll see someone, we’ll point, and then POOF it’s gone. Maybe slow them down just a little? Thanks, Jack!
³Board wargames, the kind with cardboard counters and maps with hexagon overlays. They were big in the 1970s and 1980s. Tim and Paul and I spent many, many hours playing. Sadly, I now lack the ability to concentrate on something like that for the hours needed. Sorry, Tim And Paul!
Copyright ©2022 by Jack Herlocker. All rights reserved, and do not mess with this or the Class of 1972 will be after you!