50th Reflections

Note:  If anyone wants to share their reunion reflections with the class, you can email them to Bryan Morrow Way, who will add them to this page.

Following is Norb Tatro's reunion reflections, which he shared on Norblog on 11/13/2011.

Hit the rewind button, we’re going back half a century.

In September 2011 graduates of the Class of '61 celebrated the 50th anniversary of our high school commencement.  Over four days, we shared stories of growing up in Mason City, Iowa, attending the city’s schools and decades of life after high school.

First and foremost, we had fun.  Nothing says people with gray hair and a few more pounds can't have a great time.

When I think back on the weekend, several things stood out in my mind:  How quickly we started enjoying each other.  We picked up conversations like we would with a friend seen every few months.  Perhaps most amazing, our ever-open minds led us to discover classmates we never knew.

Technology helped.  Most of us had contributed biographical information to a class website before the reunion.  Just over 50 of us had also joined a Facebook page.  At previous reunions – we’ve met every five – we picked up a reunion book on the first night and had no time to read it before the first gathering.  This time we could do that "homework" in advance.

We may be on Medicare, but we do use a computer.

At the last minute, a Thursday night dinner was added.  Some 60 of us, spouses included, dined at the city’s best known steakhouse, then adjourned to an upstairs space to have more drinks and a lot more conversation.

We had a head start on reconnecting.

No one came to the event to push an and agenda – political, religious or otherwise.  An early attempt to do that on the website was quickly shot down.  For this weekend, we put any difference aside to enjoy those days when our youth crossed the line into early adulthood.

Our memories don’t just go back 50 years.  For some, who grew up in the same neighborhood, they pre-date school.  For others, our lives crossed paths in elementary school or at the start of junior high.  By high school (10th grade), even though we didn’t all know each other, we at least shared experiences being part of the smartest class in 20 years in a very good school system in a thriving city.

The reunion turnout was amazing.  Of 357 graduates, 300 are alive and accounted for.  And 128 – nearly 40 percent – attended a weekend event.  That’s an amazing turnout.  Was it because it was the 50th?  Because most of us are retired and free to travel?  Or because we have good memories of high school and past reunions?

Most amazing to me was connecting with classmates I never really knew with whom I didn’t share classes, social circles, neighborhoods or extra-circular activities.  I traded stories about running with a retired CEO and his wife.  Like me, he is still pounding the pavement at 68.

With another, I informed him the house he grew up in and recently had been a B&B was about to close, and he shared some of his professional expertize about hearing aids.

My best example is a nuclear engineer who works as a consultant to the operators of nuclear plants around the world, advising them on safety issues.

We went to different elementary schools before attending the same junior high school, but don't remember each other from those days. By high school we were pursuing different interests and activities.

Somehow we connected at the reunion.  We started talking on Thursday – he liked the blog entries I had written in advance of the reunion and by Saturday we sat at the same table and shared stories until the bitter end.

Like, when a limited number of honors classes were created staring in 9th grade, we were crushed that we didn't make the cut.  We were in that second class, just a notch below.  After successful careers, we could laugh at that.

At one point, he turned to me and said something close to "where have you been all of our lives?:

Good question.

And one worth exploring.  In the months ahead, and at the 55th reunion.