Last weekend, Life in the Boomer Lane attended her 45th high school reunion. In January, 1965, she graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, a PUBLIC, all girls, college preparatory school, in which 90% of the graduates went on to college. The other 10% must have become either Rachel Ray or Queen Elizabeth. She loved her school. She love the reunions. The best thing about the reunions isn’t just connecting with her fellow classmates. It’s the realization that she is just as much of a doofus now as she was then. This confirms to her that time, in some ways, does stand still.
Susan (not the Susan she has written about before), and her best friend from 5th grade into high school, picked her up at the train station. They then took a tour of the old neighborhood, something LBL hadn’t done before or since. When you live in a neighborhood, you don’t “tour” it (unless your neighborhood is in a country that you happen to own). You just basically live there. And, although LBL had driven down her old street about 10 years before the reunion, she hadn’t driven the neighborhood.
They started with Camac St, where LBL had lived. Small row houses, postage stamp (not commemoratives, just the regular stamp size) front yards, no frills. Solid blue collar. Her house looked exactly the same as the day she left, except there were different chairs on the minuscule front patio. Nowadays, few people even have front patios, that space being taken up by garages, driveways, manicured lawns. In LBL’s neighborhood, there were front patios. On warm evenings, neighbors sat out, or rather, parents sat out. The kids usually sat on the concrete steps. You could look right or left and see at least 100 patios, many with people on them. It was like everyone had box seats for a special performance of the street.
From Camac, LBL and Susan went to Susan’s old house on 10th St, a mere three blocks from LBL. Then they drove street by street, yelling out things they remembered. Or didn’t. LBL remembered some things, Susan others. Together, they had a good memory.
They drove to the elementary school. Julia Ward Howe (she, writer of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” fame). First time LBL had seen the school in over 40 years. She noticed immediately that the landscaping looked exactly the same as it did when she attended. This consisted of concrete. The playground was also the same. It was basically an empty lot. If you didn’t bring your own equipment with you, about the only thing you could play was Tag. That’s usually what the kids usually did.
What differed were the bars on the windows, and the additional steel grating over the first floor windows. The original ornate wood doors, suitable for a church, had been replaced with what appeared to be solid steel, no windows.
On to the conference center, where the reunion was to be held. Luckily, Susan drove to the wrong place, where they were greeted by a clump of golf types who informed them that the actual conference center was in another building. The golf center was really luxurious, and both of them noticed a large bowl of chocolates on a table at the entrance. Based on this, they asked where the ladies’ room was. On the way, they stuffed their pockets with chocolate.
The ladies room was fabulous, well equipped with everything one could want, including really super hand lotion. Susan pointed out a basket of “Premium quality prepasted” toothbrushs, “Now with more minty fresh toothpaste!” “Hygienic!” “Just wet to activate!” (No unseemly jokes, here, please.) “Toothpaste on the bristles!” “Disposable or reuseable!” “Setting the standard for distinction!” In LBL’s world, this was real class. She popped one in her purse, intending to use it the next time she stayed at a Red Roof Inn.
She and Susan spent a lot of time in the ladies’ room, polishing off the chocolate and laughing. When the chocolate was exhausted, they left, stopping at the bowl again on their way out.
When they were back out in the parking lot, Susan turned to LBL and said, “I can’t believe we are 63 years old (she is; LBL’s birthday still had about a week to go) and we are doing things like this.” LBL said, “Hey, when I stop doing things like this, I might as well pack it in.”
They hopped into Susan’s car, found the correct building, and joined the reunion. Great women, great fun, great food. Many desserts. LBL, personally, had three. After the reunion, Susan, Judy (class president and close friend) and LBL had a huge dinner at an Italian restaurant. Then LBL went to Susan’s house where she would spend the night before heading home. Susan and LBL talked for hours on the living room couch, wrapped in blankets, eating Snickers ice cream and potato chips.
Premium quality! Setting the standard for distinction!