Monday, October 25, 2010

Olney High School Reunion

On Thursday evening, Saul and I went out to Costco for just a few food items just as they were closing, and decided to have a late bite at the Metropolitan Diner and to pick up a gift certificate for Larry. This past Friday was our friend, Larry’s, 58th birthday. By coincidence, Saul’s Olney High School 45th Reunion took place the next evening. Larry’s sister, Susan, is a classmate of Saul’s, and month’s ago, while we were visiting her and her husband, Ted, in Chicago, we made arrangements to attend the reunion together which took place this past weekend at Lamb Tavern. Susan’s husband, Ted, has children and grandchildren in this area, so the reunion became an excuse to drive in from Chicago, help Larry celebrate his birthday, visit friends and family, and attend some other related events in New York and Massachusetts.

Our Shabbat dinner this week, which was attended only by Larry, Susan and Ted, was of Larry’s choosing, at my request. We had homemade guacamole and chips with herbs from my garden; smoked turkey, split pea soup; wilted spinach salad with hot sesame dressing; stuffed cabbage; kasha and bow ties; and for dessert, a pareve chocolate sheet cake and a pistachio/praline-topped pumpkin pie, both made with coconut milk. We used this occasion to break out a very rare and delicious bottle of wine that was given to us as a thank-you by the father of one of Saul’s students. Several months ago, Saul had arranged a job interview for her with Ari’s firm, and we had actually driven her into Washington for the interview. It was a win-win-win-win situation. She was thrilled when they offered her the job. Saul was delighted that she took it. The firm was very pleased to have found such a bright and talented employee, and Ari got a generous finder’s fee for introducing her. Her parents, growers in Sonoma, California, were also delighted. Their gratitude took the form of the vintage that we uncorked on Friday—Benziger Oonapais Sonoma Mountain Red, 2006. Susan chose it from among our bottles, and she is one of the few people we know who could appreciate it. It was delicious—smooth, mellow, darkly fruity with notes of cherry and blackberry. We all had a lovely evening together.

Saul had a rendezvous with his students at Team Children the next day. That evening, we picked up Susan and Ted at Larry’s house and drove to the reunion. Many coincidences were about to unfold. Although Susan and Saul were classmates, they only became friendly as Saul’s friendship with her brother, Larry, developed. Saul and Larry met when they were both teaching at Jay Cooke Junior High School and Larry needed help moving into his new house on Thanksgiving. Saul and I both attended Cooke and met there as students. Through Facebook, Susan had renewed a friendship with a classmate, Joan, who was a bridesmaid at her wedding. Joan was the neighbor and cousin of my next door neighbor and childhood playmate for many years. Joan had an absolutely “Eureka!” moment when she realized who I was. Over the summer, we visited a couple from our teen years in Virginia Beach, Wayne and Pearl, with whom we re-connected on Facebook. At our table, during the course of our conversation with David and Karen (also re-connections on Facebook who live near my daughter in Baltimore), we discovered that the same girl, Nadine, who was responsible for Saul and me going out together on our first date to Olney High School’s Kix & Kapers (1964), was also responsible for getting the two of them together for their first Fourth of July date. Karen and Nadine had become close friends in a later class at Olney when I was disconnected from Nadine as I went off to a different high school, Girls’ High. I never knew Karen at all in high school. All this came about when I mentioned that Wayne was the reason that Saul and I had gone out together. Nadine wanted to date Wayne, but her parents said that, because she was so young (14), it needed to be a double date. Saul and I agreed to go along so that Nadine could have her first date. It was my first date, also. Wayne eventually married Pearl, who was in my Girl Scout Troop #222. Now, back to Joan. Her first husband died when she was 38. She remarried five years ago and introduced us to her second husband. He mentioned in a conversation with Saul and me that his uncle had owned a fish store in our Logan neighborhood, Zagar’s. Now, we had a “Eureka” moment, and hastened to grab Susan from a conversation elsewhere. We knew that Susan’s father was a partner in Zagar’s for several years. Susan and Larry’s father had been the partner of Joan’s husband’s uncle.

The reunion turned out to be a very pleasant evening. About 100 attended from a huge graduating class of over a thousand. The food was acceptable, the banquet hall inviting, and obviously, an enormous amount of volunteer work had gone into the planning. All at our table bought raffle tickets for door prizes, $10 for 3 tickets. The grand prizes were a $100 restaurant gift certificate and a Netbook computer. Our number was called and we won the gift certificate. While Saul was on his way back to our table with the certificate, a number was chosen for the grand prize, the computer. It was also one our numbers. A palpable hum of surprise and disappointment filled the room. We were both mortified, and with just a few words and some meaningful looks between us as he approached our table, he turned around and decided to return the computer to be raffled off to someone else. He already has a Netbook from Chestnut Hill College, along with several other laptops and computers that we own. Personally, we would have had no use for it and would have had to sell it or give it away. In hindsight, perhaps we should have kept it and given it to our friends, but it just seemed so unfair to walk away with the two grand prizes.

As the mass of graduates posed for a group photo, the atmosphere was convivial. When the women posed separately, they spontaneously broke into their school song at the mention of their alma mater and someone humming a few bars.

The worst nightmare of anyone who does computer-based presentations to groups occurred at the end of the evening. One of the organizing classmates had prepared a PowerPoint show for the occasion, with old photographs, videos and memorabilia. He had borrowed a company computer and had set up a large screen for the presentation. What came up before us all on the huge screen immediately as he began was hard-core porno! The computer virus that caused the problem was so virulent that he literally had to pull the plug to shut it down. He was freaked because he had just signed papers when borrowing the computer pledging that he would not be visiting porno or game sites. He feared for his job and we never got to see the presentation.

During the evening, my sister, Adele and her husband, Larry, called us to let us know that the mother of our mutual friend, Irv, from California, had just died. Irv’s mother, Fran, was 93 years old and was fiercely independent, insisting on staying in her home despite various health problems over the last few years. Her visiting nurse found her in a bad state of health about 3 weeks ago and had called an ambulance to take her to the hospital. She spent about 2 weeks there recovering from double pneumonia and died on Saturday night in a convalescent home after about 10 days there. Fran and my mother had been friends and we had invited her to all our family get-togethers for many years. When Irv, who originally had been Larry’s childhood friend and neighbor, had come home from the military in Viet Nam, he tried to date me, but I was waiting for Saul, who was on a carrier, The U.S.S. Forrestal, in the Navy. While on leave, Saul arranged a blind date between Irv and an Israeli girl he knew from his classes at Gratz College, Jardena. The sparks flew immediately, and they were married within a year. We all have remained friends ever since. Irv flew in from California yesterday, and his wife today from a short vacation with a girlfriend in Florida. Fran’s funeral is graveside, tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. My sister and I spent today shopping separately to make up shiva trays to serve an anticipated 35 mourners tomorrow. Saul and I made two smoked fish trays this evening and Adele made up cold cut trays.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Your blog is very nicely done.