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We looked forward, and now we look back

Columnist Loren Else says a class reunion is a good opportunity to reflect with old friends

Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig
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My wife and I were on the road returning home from an enjoyable weekend. I was getting heavy-eyed at the wheel, not used to a weekend full of activities. I was chewing a piece of gum and singing to '60s music to stay alert.

Traffic was heavy on Interstate 694 and U.S. Highway 52, and the Indianapolis 500 drivers were out. At this point in my now defensive driving career, I’m a speed limit guy, trying to survive. This gets me passed like my car was going 40 miles per hour and stares from those doing 88 miles per hour as they shoot by, including those pulling large trailers.

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The weekend included a Friday dinner, a Saturday evening banquet, a Sunday morning brunch and golf. The conversations, laughter and emotions were still with me. We eventually pulled over and had a meal to give me some get-up-and-go for the final stretch.

Because of COVID and two years of cancellations, a few of us planned a gathering of three graduating classes of 1970, 1971, and 1972 of the former Sandstone High School for a combined 50-year reunion.

In small-town America we grew up in, we all shared that significant phase in our life called youth. Our relationships at that time started to shape who we would become.

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Numerous classmates from different grades had not seen each other for 50 years. I couldn’t get around to everyone, but I attempted to hear the stories and tell mine to those I could.

Many stories didn’t just focus on us but on the people who were our bus drivers, receptionists, teachers, coaches and one superintendent whom everyone loved. We had three special guests; a coach and his wife, who both are still involved in the community; and the widow of our baseball and football coach. She spoke about some of our former coach’s comments like, “If the bone isn’t sticking out, get back in there.”

Part of our program was to remember those no longer with us. Recollections after 50 years were more positive, cheerful and appreciative.

During the weekend, several noticed I had my Jostens class ring on. Many no longer had their class rings. For a few, I did tell the story of my ring. When I went to my parents for the ring request, they said no because of the cost. I am guessing the price may have been around $50.

Class Ring.jpg
Loren Else recalls his youthful days and how he managed to get a class ring.
Contributed / Loren Else

I’m sure I was upset about this and told the caring young woman I was dating named Jo. A few months later, Jo gave me a gift wrapped in a huge box. Eventually, when I got down to the fifth or sixth box, each box was a bit smaller until there was a class ring with all the appropriate markings.

Thank you, Jo. What an extraordinary gift – to this day, I appreciate your kindness. I loved my high school, and the ring will always be important to me.

As my wife and I got about 10 miles out of Rochester on a gray, misty day, suddenly, there was a beautiful rainbow. It had been a while since I had seen one, and it was stunning. We were calling out the colors we saw in this beautiful phenomenon.

I tried to remember learning about rainbows in school and did recall there were only so many colors, and they had an order to them. The rainbow lasted quite some time. Soon we were home.

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I looked up the rainbow colors which are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The multicolored arc is made by light striking water droplets. It was a fun way to end our trip.

Many classmates said they enjoyed the gathering celebrating 50 years since high school graduation. My classmate Micki said it best, “I think that looking back now has been just as good as looking forward then.”

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com .

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