With that old-ish gang of mine

AT MY 50-YEAR high school reunion at the Sheraton Hotel in Garden Grove I was reunited with some other characters in student government from our senior year. From left are Kris McTighe Urdahl (ASB secretary) Tim McKernan (vice president) Ron Zajec (president), Dianne Moon (homecoming chair) and me (parliamentarian and student store manager).

History isn’t the past. In fact, it’s not even over.

As much as we try to disassociate ourselves from things than have gone before, they continue to shape and influence our present-day circumstances.

The same might also be said about our personal histories. My week just past has left me knee-deep in nostalgia and reflection. It was the 50-year (51, really because of the delay forced by the coronavirus pandemic) reunion of the Garden Grove High School Class of (gulp!) 1971.

It was remarkable how many people wanted to reconnect and – somewhat – relive an era in which we battled with acne, insecurity and algebra. Some few of us sat on what seemed to be the pinnacle of high school society – football star, head cheerleader – while the rest of us appeared to live more ordinary lives.

How wrong I was. Having survived duck-and-cover drills, dress codes, Vietnam, disco, first marriages and the thinning of hair and the thickening of waistlines, it seems like we came through level-headed, cliques dissolved, hidden longings and hurts healed in a mellow fashion.

Setting aside crass measurements such as income and “status” we mingled at SteelCraft (Friday night) and the Sheraton Hotel (Saturday night) as true companions rich in experience and the wisdom of maturity.

My own high school years shaped my life greatly. It was there I found my career calling (journalism), my lifelong pal (Dianne) and my beloved wife (Marilyn). 

In conversing with other people at these gatherings, I marveled about how widely scattered we had become across the nation. It also struck me how many of us had “crossed over to the other side” into The Great Unknown.

When we completed those four years, many might never have wanted to relive them. But it’s also possible that once we get past ancient pains and jealousies that we were surprisingly similar – and eventually – surprisingly pleased by fond remembrances and open hearts.

Our school song, in part, exhorted us to “pull together.” Last week we really, really did.

Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” alternates with “Usually Reliable Sources.”

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