Hey, Big Guy: No name tags necessary at 30-year reunion
Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 8:01 pm
By: By DAVID CRITCHLOW JR., Editor
Didn’t you used to be thinner?
Didn’t you used to have more hair?
Didn’t you used to be more fun?
Such was the banter among soon-to-be AARP members from Union City High School’s graduating class of 1981 who recently gathered for a 30-year reunion.
For many, a fitting theme song would have been Jimmy Buffett’s, “I’m Growing Older, But Not Up,” and I’m certainly including myself in that group.
Some classmates looked like they stepped right out of the yearbook and could walk right back into the high school and blend right in with the teenagers of today. Others, well, not so much.
Fortunately for me, I’ve changed little, unless you count the 75 pounds I’ve added to my once slender physique of way-back-when. Or, if someone were to notice that I no longer have the mop-like head full of hair I once had — and that I could no longer grow even if I wanted to.
But enough about me ….
From as far away as California and as close as the city limits of Union City, a group of 47- and 48-year-olds gathered to talk about life as teenagers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while bragging on and showing pictures of our own children who are now teens. Some classmates even talked about grandchildren. Not so fast, I say.
But we used to be young, didn’t we?
Seeing some of them now — after knowing some of them for only four years of high school 30 years ago — it was a bit awkward at times, especially if they asked, “You don’t even know who I am, do you?”
I would never put anyone on the spot like that, but I’m always a bit suspicious of whether or not they remember me when they start a conversation with, “Hey, big guy, what’s up?”
And speaking of memories, it seems several classmates recalled the late Bob Jarvis stalking the hallways as principal — greeting the students with, “Hello gentlemen” or “Hello ladies,” while also being on the lookout for any mischievous behavior.
There were recollections of math teacher Phil Wesner, who was in charge of the school system’s only computer lab, which would fit into a closet and was only open to seniors. Now, preschoolers are using more advanced computers on a daily basis in every classroom and, not surprisingly, are more computer literate than I am.
There was talk of the Bunsen burners — under the sometimes-lax supervision of a few lab instructors who will remain anonymous — which sometimes were used for unapproved experiments.
Coach Larry Shanks, always a favorite among the students, had a unique way of teaching health class — even though he spent a good portion of the classroom time in the fieldhouse.
There were the unwarranted paddlings, which many seemed to recall, including discussions about who could best swing the attitude-adjustment board. The late Wilford Gray seemed to be a unanimous choice for the hardest swingers getting his Popeye-like forearms into every swipe with his meter stick.
Monsieur Jerry Nash, our French teacher, was better known for bringing his guitar to class and singing, “Grandma’s Feather Bed,” than teaching a foreign language — a fact that caught up to me when I had to take a placement exam my freshman year in college. I did so poorly on that exam they put me in remedial guitar classes.
All in all, the reunion was a great time to reminisce, whether it was talking about teachers, classes or even the snooty, too-cool-for-school people who didn’t attend the reunion for various inexcusable reasons.
For that latter group, your absence improved my chances of winning “Class Favorite After 30 Years.” Unfortunately I did not, but before the next reunion, I expect to be better prepared for the vote. If I play it just right, maybe I can even win “Most Likely to Stuff the Ballot Box Just to Get an Award” award.
I would start campaigning on Facebook, but I forgot my password. I really must be getting old.
Editor David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.07.11