“It is good to see all of you again and to share our lives once more, however fleetingly, for this moment in time. I’m sure that in the past 20 years our lives have progressed in many different directions. I’m likewise sure that this fact adds much richness to our mutual consciousness of our roots, of ourselves, and of one another.
I thought tonight you might enjoy a free-flowing speech from me – one that would involve not our differences but our commonalities, which have been established through our many shared experiences. So, if this speech were a work of art – which it is not, but if it were – it would be in the style of a Picasso rather than that of a Norman Rockwell.
Do you recall? . . .
– The promenades around the block at the American Legion.
– The chaperones at every turn of the block at the American Legion.
– Mrs. Ferguson’s Statue of Liberty – all decked out and ready to be censored.
– The Blue Goose.
– The Blue Devils.
– Just the blues. ‘I’m too tall’. . .’I’m too short’. . .’I’m too fat’. . .’Too thin’. . .’Too funny.’ Too. . . adolescent?
– Coach Tucker’s ring on the blackboard.
– Summers at the swimming pool.
– The Youth Center.
– Spend the night parties.
– The ‘Big Bopper.’
– Little Richard.
– ‘Long Tall Sally.’ ‘Blue Suede Shoes.’ ‘Blueberry Hill.’
– White socks with pink shirts and black slacks.
– And, cars to match.
– Signing annuals. ‘Stay just as sweet, pretty, nice, smart, COOL as you are now!’
– The Varsity.
– Eating all you wanted. Being slim, and not appreciating it.
– Being 16, and not appreciating it!
– Fast Forward. Being 37, 10 pounds overweight, and appreciating it.
– Flashback. First snow in 30 years.
– Sock hops.
– ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ book-jacketed in the latest brown paper bag and labelled, ‘World History by D. H. Lawrence.’
– The old high school – Round the bend, and up two flights.
– Passing in the halls toward your next class.
– A flutter in the heart.
– A smile at a friend.
– A knowing wink for a prank pulled off.
– Lunch over. Sitting, together, on the grass.
– Sunny days.
– Warm hearts.
– Some pain.
– The heart remembers . . . . .
Recaptures. . . . .
And forms a communion
. . .of the Present with the Past,
. . .of old friends and new ones,
. . .of former awareness and growing consciousness,
. . .of changing roles,
. . .of changing times,
. . .of ties unbreakable
– The heart remembers.
Do you remember. . . . .this?
‘When that distant day comes and if, then, we have the privilege of returning home together, I hope to find everyone of your books filled with lines of happiness. I hope everyone of your lives has reached that golden maturity. I hope you’ve all found the ‘Secret of Success.’ ‘
I still wish that for each of you, as well as for myself, but my present perceptions lead me to the words of my grandfather who knew, perhaps, a greater truth. He often said, ‘The prize, my friend, lies in the struggle, not in the gain.’ Let me share his thought with you, again, but altering a word or two to capture, I think, his larger view.
‘The prize, my friend, lies in the Becoming, not in the End.’
So when we gather 20 years from this year, and we will in 2000 A.D., my hope – now – is that we will all, still, be in the process of Becoming, and that we will all, still, be sharing our latest perceptions with one another.
It’s been my pleasure.
(In memory of my dear friend, Allen Moon, who sat next to me at this 20th high school reunion, and who died prematurely a only a few years later. This gathering was the last time I saw Allen. I met him when we were 11 years old. We were 37 at the time of this reunion. Allen whispered to me, upon my returning to my chair, “You always were so literary.” Rest in peace, dear friend. You had a sensitive soul. You will never be forgotten.)