A Single Baby Boomer Attends a Class Reunion

A Single Baby Boomer Attends a Class Reunion

 

Have you ever been to a class reunion?  I can tell you that you’ll go through a wide range of emotions.  I graduated from an all-girls Catholic school, St. Francis High School, which was operated for decades by the Franciscan Sisters and closed in 1977.  I was taught by nuns, priests and a few lay women.  Yes, the stereo types are remarkably accurate.  Here are some of the emotions I experienced before and during the reunion.

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My graduation photo

Amazement – Has it really been that long since I was a naïve teenager?  This was my 50th so it may have been closer to shock.

Excitement – As I aged I felt a need to reconnect with people from my past and this offered me a way to do it with minimal effort.  All I really had to do was show up.  I did call a couple of classmates I hadn’t talked to in years, but other than booking the flight and car and telling my family I was coming, that was it.  I was overjoyed to be given the chance to see so many of my classmates in one spot.

Anticipation – I first heard about the reunion in late winter. It was slated for July so I had time to think about the positives of seeing old friends and then the joy of anticipation turned into…

Anxiety – I’d only seen a few of the people in my class a couple times in the last 50 years.  They had aged, but it always seems it wasn’t as much as I had.  Some were thinner.  I hoped it was genetic.  I was a chubby kid who effortlessly lost weight during puberty and kept most of it off until menopause hit.  Since then it’s been an uphill struggle.  I have few wrinkles due to staying out of the sun, my mother’s advice, and some nip and tuck.  Yes, I believe in being honest, but it had been over 10 years since I did that and gravity had its way.

Delight – When the time for the reunion arrived reconnecting with old friends was fun.  We were past the age of caring about how to impress each other with our accomplishment and those of our children.

Gratitude – Although I was sad we had lost 3 of our classmates, most of us seemed to be in good health with no visible impairments-at least none we wished to share.

reunion memorabalia
Frannie memorabilia

I found that people who’ve spent years apart can still reconnect when they’ve shared experiences.  When we talked about our time as “Frannies” the years lifted away and we were back in those classrooms talking about boyfriends and learning things we really needed in life and some we never would use.  We did get an education that I feel was superior to the local public school in some areas, but not many real-life experiences.  I guess we were supposed to get those in college or on the job.  Maybe they figured that our inevitable marriage would give us a new protector when our parents weren’t there for us.  It was a very sheltered environment.

 

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Frannies Forever!

 

Besides seeing my old friends and classmates, my after dinner visit to the once forbidden dorms was the highlight of the reunion.  We weren’t allowed there while we were students since we were day students and the life of the boarder was a mystery to us.  Although we attended classes together, fraternization was not encouraged.  We thought it was because we had boyfriends and more contact with the outside world, but the boarders must have had boyfriends since the prom was well attended.  To be honest, they did import boys from the nearby Catholic boy’s school for dances, but most of them were expected to be priests.  I met my first boyfriend, a local boy, at a dance there so males weren’t entirely banned.  I think one of my first real teenage crushes was one of the school’s priests who was from Boston and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.  There were other places we dared not tread and even the boarders couldn’t go inside the convent.  Our class was the first one in history to not produce a nun, so we were real renegades.  One classmate told of going to the nearby Dairy Dream to smoke and later being confronted by the principal who said she shouldn’t insult her intelligence by thinking Aqua Net hairspray would cover up the smell of smoke.  I’m sure I would have found out more secrets when I was in high school had I not been such a Goody Two-shoes.  I regret missing out on some of the adventures.  I was too concerned about my GPA which dipped when I met my boyfriend.  Ah, the years have taught me so much.

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That’s me-Right Front-Check out the hairdo.

We were sure the boarders were sent there because they got into trouble at home, but that night I found out that for most of them being a St. Francis graduate was a family tradition like it was for my sisters and me.  St. Francis is no longer a school and has been used for many other purposes.  It’s currently for sale, but the dorms remain.  Now instead of climbing the marble steps to the 3rd floor, you can take an elevator.  My friend told me that now she understood why the boarder didn’t have many clothes.  The closets and rooms are tiny.  It’s now air conditioned, but there are still shared bathrooms and a common room. We took our snacks and once prohibited alcoholic beverages to the common room, pulled up chairs and continued to revisit memories and rules customary to Catholic schools in the 60s.  No skirts that didn’t touch the floor when you kneeled down.  Patent leather shoes were supposed to let boys look up your skirt, so even though they weren’t forbidden we were too proper to wear them.

reunion sisters
Boarders-A family tradition

My classmates and I have lived through the technology boom and the Woman’s Movement, which most embraced.  We grieved during the Kennedy assassination and terrorist attacks.  We applauded women in space and more rights for all groups of people.  We endured divorce, single parenthood and death in their families.  In spite of our hardships, we thrived.  Our class produced mothers, artists, educators, business people, writers, nurses and professionals from a variety of fields, some not considered appropriate for female Baby Boomers.

Reunion My class
My class-the class of 1967-I missed this event so don’t look for me.  I wish I could’ve been there.

Out of the 67 students who graduated, 30 attended our dinner, a good turnout for a class our size.  There was a whole school reunion with a Mass and picnic the next day that I couldn’t attend – maybe in 10 more years.  I hope to get together with the women living near our old high school when I return at Christmas and to travel with some.  We may have spent many years apart, but we still have so much in common no matter where we now live.  I appreciate the education we were privileged to get at my alma mater.

Continue the adventure!

 Linda Lea

P.S. Our class president, Carol, brought a book titled Class Reunions can be Murder by Susan Santangelo which told the tale of two friends, Carol and Claire, who with other classmates planned a reunion at Mount St. Francis Academy.  Claire is the name of our Carol’s best friend from high school.  There are other similarities like the name of the school, the marble steps, the dorms and the fact that the school was for sale.  Luckily, no one was murdered during our reunion.

17 thoughts on “A Single Baby Boomer Attends a Class Reunion

  1. Here it is, the long awaited Eclipse Day. One of my memories from this day will be having relived our fantastic class reunion through your blog, Linda! Thank you! You have successfully captured our get together.

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  2. How keen to read your comments, Linda! I missed connecting with everyone so reading your comments and seeing the photos was wonderful! I especially enjoyed your observation about our class stepping into a future colored by change. Yes, we’ve been through a lot but we’ve also made our impact upon the world. May it be all the better because of us (even if we didn’t have anyone join the convent!). All the best to everyone!

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  3. Linda,
    Thanks for putting this together. It reflects what many of us, I for one was thinking. It’s a great way to remember our high school days and the reunion.
    Carol Shimek Lenhart

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  4. I’m adding my thanks for your article, Linda, and for all the others! Everyone should read your archived entries!!
    Loved seeing everyone and just enjoyed remembering without evaluating! We all are wonderful women, diverse and unique. Thanks to all and yes let’s not wait 10 years!

    Mary Bowen Stapel

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      1. Linda,
        I cannot quit thinking about you and your safety during this horrible hurricane!
        Please let us know how you are doing and where you’ve gone for safety.
        My thoughts are with you.
        Love, Claire

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  5. Thank you for your concern, Claire. It wasn’t bad at all here. The wind whistling outside reminds me of Minnesota blizzards. I posted some pictures on Facebook. I watched the coverage on the Weather Channel all week and was more frightened by that than the real thing. We were so lucky here. There was so much destruction in the rest of Florida and Texas.
    Love, Linda

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    1. Thank the Lord. I especially thank you for responding so quickly. So happy to heat all is basically fine. I had the chance to see that snazzy car of yours safe in the garage. Hurrah!
      I’ll never own one unless I win the lottery, but a great car is on my list. Good for you!
      Take care.

      Love,
      Claire

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  6. Hi All, finally back in California after a 3 month (Vacation) in Minnesota which included this wonderful reunion….It was truly GREAT..Lets not all be strangers…I had so much fun seeing all of you again. Nice job Linda on the write up and to Carol and Claire…you two were awesome.Carol I am coming up to see you in Frisco…Have the wine ready..

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