45 years plus one week -- 07/01/06

Two or three weeks ago I received the announcement of the 45th reunion of the Kingston (NY) High School graduating class of 1961.

I just now realized (because I looked it up in a calendar program) that the 1961 and 2006 calendars match; July 1st, for example, falls on a Saturday in both years. Hence the caption for this posting -- "45 years plus one week" because our graduation ceremony was 45 years ago last weekend.

The funny thing is, I can't remember if it was on a Saturday or a Sunday... Is that a sign of aging? Nancy laughs at me when I say things like that -- she thinks I remember too much trivia as it is.

I remember the Commencement Dance -- all of the guys in white dinner jackets and the girls in prom dresses. My girlfriend and I and another couple stopped in at a cocktail lounge where we each had what we viewed as sophisticated adult drinks (screwdrivers and 7&7, etc.) and because we were dressed for the dance and 18 was the drinking age in NY at that time we had no trouble being served (although my girlfriend was just 16 at the time -- it must have been assumed that we were all seniors). Then we stopped in at a pre-dance reception being held by the parents of a classmate (they owned the leading jewelry store in town) -- a very large lawn behind their house with a large number of teenage couples (dozens and dozens -- KHS was a large school and a significant percentage of the academic-track students were there) and a dozen or so well-dressed parents. It was visually stunning to this kid from a blue collar ethnic neighborhood, something I had never seen before -- all of those white dinner jackets and those prom dresses and the carefully done hair styles.... (If you were to look up the word "elegant" in my mental dictionary, I think you would find this memory filed there.) Then off to the dance... held at the Wiltwyck Country Club. After the dance huge numbers of us ended up at a nightclub in Port Ewen.

So here I was, thinking about high school graduation and Bev posted this high school meme and then Stephanie also did it, followed closely by Mary. (And all four of us have it as our July 1st entries.)

1. Who was your best friend? There were three guys I hung out with most of the time: Charlie Shoemaker (who was a year ahead of me in school), Tommy Quinn (who was in my class), and Rusty Fallon (who was a year younger). I could probably tell some stories someday...

2.What sports did you play? Drinking?

3. What kind of car did you drive? I didn't have a car in high school -- My parents had a '56 Chevy (three on the tree) when I first got my learner's permit but then they got a VW Beetle (which I bought from them when I was in college; that's the car pictured on my home page).

4. Itís Friday night. Where are you? Either cruising with Charlie Shoemaker and the guys, which meant probably stopping in at a bar just outside of the village of Saugerties or at Tony's Bar & Grill on Broadway in Kingston. (Since I'm talking about being 16 and 17, you can safely assume that these were not places that checked for proof of age.) It's pretty sure, however, that whatever was happening, we would be very likely to end up at the 24 hour cafeteria by the Trailways Bus Terminal on Broadway. Everyone ended up there at some point during the evening. (Am I right, Mr. Duffy?)

5. Were you a party animal? You could say that.

6. Were you considered a flirt? I don't think so.

7. Ever skip school? Yes. Also cut individual classes.

8. Ever smoke? From around 1955 until October 31, 1980..

9. Were you a nerd? More of a greaser.

10. Did you get suspended/expelled? I was threatened with it a couple of times.

11. Can you sing the Alma Mater? Yes... (this is from memory)

We thy children Kingston High School
One in loyalty
Ever shall be bound together
By our love for thee
May thy ideals like the Catskills
Rising toward the blue
Like the never changing Hudson
Be as loyal and true.

.12. Who was your favorite teacher? I had some very good teachers (although I was not a very good student) -- "Tex" Mason (Biology), Joe Schwarz (English 9th & 10th), Mr. Kurtznacker (American History), and Mildred DeWitt (two senior year social studies seminars).

13. Favorite class? English.

14. What was your schoolís full name? Kingston High School

15. School mascot? I don't think we had one; at least not that I can recall. These days they have one and have even changed the team names.

16. If you could go back and do it over again, would you? That's an intriguing thought, but....

17. What do you remember most about graduation? Very hot, very humid, the rumor that some of the girls were undressed under their graduation robes (and trying to guess who), everything seeming to work the same as it had during practice but also seeming to go on for hours (have I mentioned that it was very hot and very humid?), looking forward to post-graduation partying.

18. Were you 18? Yes (and 18 was legal drinking age in New York at that time.

19. Favorite memory of your Senior year? The entire evening of the Commencement Dance. (See above.)

20. Were you ever posted up on the Senior Wall? I guess not because I have no idea what that might be..

21. Did you have a job your senior year? Yes, part time job at Andy's Furniture Store -- which I had "inherited" from Charlie Shoemaker when he graduated the previous June and recommended me to take his place (he had enlisted in the Air Force).

22. Who did you date? Pam. (Actually, that was her nickname, based on her initials -- P.A.M. -- her first name was Pauline but she hated it.) Her older sister was married to our minister and she lived with them for a year (my junior year) to help when her sister was pregnant with her third child. The next year (my senior year) the school system had decided that either her sister and husband had to become her full legal guardians or she would have to pay tuition. So she had to go back to live with her parents in Connecticut and we had a long-distance relationship. Fortunately, she got to come over frequently (but not frequently enough) on school holidays and some weekends and sometimes I could get over to see her.

23. Where did you go most often for lunch? It varied. In nice weather it might just be eating a brown bag lunch down by "The Wall" in front of the school on Broaday... or at Trailways (see #4 above) or the sub sandwich shop on Broadway or the hamburger place a few doors from the sub shop. The Wall is a block long stone wall in front of the school -- as you see in this picture taken the weekend of our 40th reunion.

24. What did you do after graduation? Went to a graduation party. Much laughter, drinking, eating, dancing, more laughter, more drinking, some tears of farewell mixed with laughter and drinking. It was a good party. On Monday afternoon I left town for my summer job and didn't return until after Labor Day weekend.

25. When did you graduate? 1961

A picture of my high school (also taken at the 40th reunion).

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