On a Reunion

Last weekend I traveled to the opposite corner of Ohio to join classmates at a reunion to celebrate our graduation 40 years ago. Since our class has not gathered since our 25th, many thanks to the group who pulled us together in a matter of weeks on a weekend associated with the high school homecoming.

I didn’t make it to the Friday night game, but my wife and I arrived to see people for a parade and considerable socializing. It was great to see many people:

  • Sharon (who was alphabetically next to me in many classes)
  • Jeff (who sank the winning shot in a legendary game, and enjoys DWTS)
  • Eric (my longtime friend with whom I’ve remained in contact)
  • My faithful band of good friends who started in first grade together and remained cohesive through graduation (some who I saw a year ago at the visitation for my father)
  • Kathy and Mary (two wonderful ladies who came into my life when our schools consolidated,
  • Dave (simply a great person that I admire and miss)
  • And others as Jon, Roger, Sherry, Anita, Mick, Peggy, Ron, Rich, Jennifer, Tom, Judy, Brenda, Larry, Kaye, Donna, and whomever I have left out, including those from other classes

Several times during the day, I thought about those I would not see because their life was shorter than mine. From an auto accident within a year after graduation, to mid-life suicide and those who fought cancer, losing 12 out of 187 is not a bad percentage for 40 years.

Nobody mentioned her, but I thought of Effie, my first classmate to die (third grade). I’m not sure if it was leukemia, lupus, or whatever, but I can remember her short black hair and smile – and even attending a party at her house just above the old school.

Of all the life forms in this world, we humans are the most social and the ones who interact with more of the same species than any other organism. I wonder how many people I have met in my life – even if for a short time – the number must be staggering, yet only a fraction of the percent of people on the planet. However, all those interactions shape us in some way. No matter how short or long the relationship, these interactions are part of the dominoes in our life.

I tell my nieces and nephews that the most important decision is life is who you choose to be around. My life has been a blessing, not only for because of my family and hometown classmates, but those that I’ve through work, church, college, travel, and countless life encounters – including today’s electronic world as blogs.

Yes, I wonder why some of the locals did not have the time to greet those of us who came greater distances but I imagine a few had other obligations. Nonetheless, I am glad I went and ever so thankful for all the dominoes in my life – even the small one from who did not make it with us to fourth grade.

Thanks to Brenda for a pic.

On More NonClassmates

1 – I didn’t graduate with baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, but after shaking hands with him one can understand how he could hold 7 baseballs in one hand.

2 – I didn’t graduate with golfer Mike Hill, but I did see him win two golf events on the same course … one on the PGA tour and one on the Legends (Seniors) Tour.

3 – I didn’t graduate with St. Louis Blues players Noel Picard and Jimmy Roberts from long ago, but they are the first professional athletes I ever met.

4 – I didn’t graduate with NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon, but I did see him win at Talladega … a 500-mile race with NO caution flags.

5 – I didn’t graduate with MLB Commission Bud Selig, but I personally know a MLB VP.

6 – I didn’t graduate with actor, but I have a good friend named Don Johnson who wasn’t on Miami Vice.

7 – I didn’t graduate with Steve Sabol of NFL Films, but I do know his namesake.

8 – I didn’t graduate with astronaut Neil Armstrong, but I did check his hand for a stamp while monitoring the doors at a high school basketball game.

9 – I didn’t graduate with George Clooney, but I slept on the gym floor at the high school from which he graduated.

10 – I didn’t graduate with Yogi Berra, but one of my Dad’s best friends from his youth was a good friend with the Yankee great.

11 – I didn’t graduate with keyboardist Rick Wakeman, but I did see a Yes concert while he was still in the band.

12 – I didn’t graduate with Al Roker, when he stood directly in front of us doing the weather on our visit to New York.

13 – I didn’t graduate with Kenny Loggins, but I passed on a free Loggins and Messina concert (before their first hit) because we got distracted on the way (It was Dwain’s fault).

14 – I didn’t graduate with Harry Caray, but I did get to sing during the seventh inning stretch with him on my only trip to Wrigley Field.

15 – I didn’t graduate with outfielder Mark Whiten, but I attended his 4 HR, 12 RBI game.

16 – I didn’t graduate with Rory Sabatini, but I did witness him demonstrating why many fans don’t like him.

17 – I didn’t graduate with outfielder Champ Summers, but I did witness him be the first to homer by a Red into the right field upper deck at Riverfront Stadium.

18 – I didn’t graduate with Pete Rose, but I attended the first game after his return to Cincinnati as a player-manager, thus seeing his first-inning belly-flop into third after a single and an outfield error was worth the scalped ticket price.

19 – I didn’t graduate with Pro Football Hall of Fame member Anthony Munoz, but he is the biggest person I’ve ever met.

20 – I didn’t graduate with any of the former Bengal quarterback Ken Anderson, but I was at the Monday Night game when a Steelers tackler spun his head around by the face mask.

21 – I didn’t graduate with Joe Dempsey, but the photographs and simple stories make his blog one of my favorites.

22 – I didn’t graduate with comedian Tim Conway, but we went to the same university.

23 – I didn’t graduate with former LPGA golfer Sally Little, but after a final round I told her she would win the following year and she did.

24 – I didn’t graduate with blogger Tim Valentine, but he sure makes me think.

25 – I didn’t graduate with Shania Twain, but she did high-five my left hand. Did I ever tell you I now have a prosthetic left hand?

I didn’t graduate with these people either.

On 25 nonClassmates

Sometimes I think about Cliff Clavin’s appearance on Jeopardy and the way he answered the final question. With that in mind, here are a few notes about people that weren’t in my graduating class.

  1. I didn’t graduate with Tiger Woods, but I did see him play in his last U.S. Open as an amateur.
  2. I didn’t graduate with Bob Seeger, but I did see him as a warm-up act.
  3. I didn’t graduate with Joe Namath, but I did talk to him about the Orange Bowl loss 35+ years later.
  4. I didn’t graduate with Sam Wyche, but I did see his team execute an onside kick to the side of the field without any players… oh yes, an untouched return for a TD.
  5. I didn’t graduate with Otis Birdsong, but I did see him score 40+ points one night in a losing effort.
  6. I didn’t graduate with Gerald Ford, but I attended his speech when the popping flash bulb was mistaken as an assassination attempt.
  7. I didn’t graduate with George Carlin, but I did see a performance for a very close, front row seat … and he could do strange looks.
  8. I didn’t graduate with former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick, but I know several of his siblings.
  9. I didn’t graduate with CNN political analyst Bill Schneider, but he was gracious to converse with me at an airport several weeks before the election.
  10. I didn’t graduate with Tom Seaver, but to this day I’m still bothered by the fact me that I decided not to go to the game that became his only no-hitter.
  11. I didn’t graduate with Ben Davidson, but what a thrill being told by the NFL/Raider-great, “Thanks for remembering me.”
  12. I didn’t graduate with Pete Rose, but I attended the game before hitting record-breaking 4192 – and the only time I’ve ever known a visiting relief pitcher getting a rousing ovation when heading to the bullpen.
  13. I didn’t graduate with Harry Chapin, but that was the best-ever $2 concert.
  14. I didn’t know Rembrandt, but I did fall asleep in front of one of his paintings at the Prada Museum in Madrid (due to jetlag of course).
  15. I didn’t graduate with QB Dan Fouts, but he didn’t throw very well at the 1982 Freezer Bowl – the coldest NFL game ever … and I was there.
  16. I didn’t graduate with any of them, but it was a thrill to see both Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino insist that Arnold Palmer be the first to walk up to the 18th green after playing a round together.
  17. I didn’t graduate with Olympic gold medalist Dave Wottle or Scott Hamilton, but I saw them do their thing before their crowning achievements.
  18. I didn’t graduate with Rob Bachman (BTO), but I have a pair of play-in-concert drum sticks.
  19. I didn’t graduate with David Funk, but the man knows how to promote his blog.
  20. I didn’t graduate with Bradley, but his occasional rants on The Coach Potato Chronicles are a hoot. Here’s a rant.
  21. I didn’t graduate with Tim Valentine, but his blog entries (Thoughts, Ideas, and Suggestions) are very articulate.
  22. I didn’t graduate with Lester, but his Lester’s Legends site in a must for fantasy sports participants.
  23. I didn’t graduate with Mo Morrissey, but I’ve corresponded with him by e-mail.
  24. I didn’t graduate with Shania Twain, but she did high-five my left hand. Did I ever tell you I now have a prosthetic left hand?