A magical night with old friends

Class reunion paves way for trip down memory lane

Rockland District High School's 1977 graduates celebrate 40th year
By Ken Waltz | Nov 25, 2017

South Thomaston — What your about to read has nothing to do with sports, but something much more important — namely, life; which, ultimately, is the only "game" that really matters.

Oh, there will be a sprinkling of sports content in the following words, but mostly it will be a joyous trip down memory lane for one aging lifelong Midcoast resident.

Like the words from Bruce Springsteen's song "Glory Days," on one special night, I rekindled acquaintances with people who, so many years ago, helped me become, well, me.

On Saturday, July 22, Rockland District High School's Class of 1977 celebrated its 40-year reunion and, as they say, and I can attest, a good time was had by all.

Although life for all of us has taken many happy and sad twists and turns, it did not stop a good number of my high school classmates from coming together for a few hours of fun and laughter as we reminisced about the "good old days."

Good food, drink and conversation was had by all and, for me especially, the night was important because it rekindled warm, positive, somewhat faded, thoughts from the past.

As someone not really involved in social media (by choice), for one night, my Facebook time with classmates and long ago friends was face to face, sitting around a roaring outdoor fire, under the summer stars, looking at the beautiful, rugged Maine coast.

It was a perfect, some might say, idyllic scene. One I will not soon forget.

The night began on a funny note. As I initially approached a group of my classmates, one man shook my hand and said, with a sly grin, "Someone has put on a few pounds." I smiled back, hugged him and jokingly told him that was not a nice thing to say about a old classmate.

As I walked away it never registered who I had just interacted with. So, a few minutes later, when talking to another classmate, I asked her, point blank, what ever happened to Steve Donahue, my old buddy, someone I had not seen in, well, 40 years.

She told me he was at the reunion and I responded. "No way." She said, "Yes way. I'll prove it." And she proceeded to go and bring back the guy who told me I was fat. Lo and behold, it was Steve Donahue, my former athletic teammate and seemingly long-lost friend.

So, for the rest of the night, I would, now and then, look around at the group, including Donahue, and ask, with a straight face: "Anyone know what ever happened to Steve Donahue?"

It was that kind of night.

Once again, as they do every five years, Kim Gushee Simmons, Barbara Young and Terri Blastow Hallowell organized the event. That trio, among a handful of others, have been the glue that has kept our class's reunion fires burning strong for four decades.

On this night, we hugged, laughed, shared memories about teachers, classes, boyfriends and girlfriends and, for me, sports. It is funny how successes in athletics are so much greater now than they were in reality 40 years ago — of course, we have a built-in excuse, namely from selective memory loss (or at least I hope it is selective).

It was so much fun to talk to Darrell Larrabee about our fun cross-country running days, John Pietroski about our baseball teams (he and I were a longtime double play combinations at second base and shortstop, respectively) and former athletic teammates Russell Cummings and Donahue, among others.

We classmates talked about school dances, about the silly things we did in our youth and, of course, about life at our now advanced ages.

We looked at our blown-up preschool class photo and 1977 high school yearbook. The photos of class superlatives are always fun to check out (I was voted best dressed).

We blared the songs of the 1970s, from Queen to Bread, from Seals & Crofts (our class song was "We May Never Pass This Way [Again]") to John Denver, from Kiss and Bad Company to the Doobie Brothers and Boston.

We caught up telling stories of our families and about our lives as senior citizens. We wondered, collectively, how we seemingly went from teenagers with our entire lives ahead of us to older humans beings — with a large portion of our existence behind us — in a blink of an eye.

We talked about the trials and tribulations of life, and the tough times that so many have had to — and continue to — endure.

And, on a more serious note, we talked about deceased classmates. It was a sad, somber and poignant moment, but an important moment of respect for those gone while the rest of us, for now, remain to carry on a wonderful tradition — and, perhaps, another opportunity to talk about them, to keep their names and spirits alive.

It made one realize how important this moment, this night, was to all of us and how we wished all those not present could/would have attended. To share, to laugh, to cry and to love life.

What an incredible night. For one seven-hour period, it felt a little like being back in school with familiar faces, familiar friends and the familiar thoughts and feelings, with one eye on the past and one on the now as we all, whether we like it or not, set a course for the future.

A future, a reality that is now, and we hope, for years to come.

Now, so many years later, a person's journey, hard lessons learned through life's incredible highs and lows, that allowed us to experience so much laughter and shed so many tears, stared back at each of us from a place, a school, a time, where we all essentially began our journeys to where we ended up.

And, in five years, I hope all of us, can come together again to make new memories while we remember the old.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 25, 2017 15:44

Great article! Made me remember the years my twins (Matt & Mike Brown) were on the Basketball Court, Soccer and Base Ball field. And my daughter Maureen Brown was on the swim and gymnastics teams. Also remember watching my grandchildren; McKenzie & Caitlin Brown, playing softball, soccer, and Basketball. Not to mention McKenzie with the band.

 I read with optimism of the new High School and future graduates.

Mary "Mickey" (Brown)  McKeever

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Ken Waltz
Sports Director
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Ken Waltz has been a media member 35 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He has an associate degree in law enforcement and studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon, who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Hannah, and daughter, Audrey Josephine. Ken loves to golf, ride his motorcycle, exercise at the YMCA and follow his beloved Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins. He also has had a lifelong passion for the mysterious and all things paranormal/cryptozoological.

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