And so it came to pass that the great School Reunion Luncheon of 2020, the very one for which I’d lovingly reconditioned my old school dolls (blog post #86) fell victim to Covid-19.
There’s to be no 50-year school reunion this year, and based on our ages, it may be some time before it’s safe for us to travel, or mingle, again.
Perhaps we should
#90 Hold a Reunion Entrée prior to a Reunion Luncheon
to stave off reunion hunger.
When it became clear in March that the May celebration wouldn’t be happening, a member of our class of 1970 emailed us all:Alas, the conversation went nowhere. It appeared that no-one was “tech savvy” nor were they keen, nor able, which was probably just as well. Can you imagine the horror of a Zoom meeting, wrangling forty old school chums who hadn’t seen each other for fifty years?
As an alternative, I threw out the idea of creating an electronic “Reunion Book”, where everyone who’s interested provides information about their life in the intervening fifty years, replete with photos, old and new for compilation and dissemination.
Which is how the production of the great School Reunion Book of 2020 fell to me. Questionnaires were sent out and duly returned. Dozens of old school photos arrived and the great task began.
It was then I discovered that emailing a book that has loads of photographs is … well … impossible. Way too many megabytes. Sharing the document via Dropbox was recommended as a way around this, but my experience with that particular program was still painful after it lost a couple of chapters of my novel. To my relief, it turned out that the class of 1970 is a cohort of women who don’t engage comfortably with computers. Not Dropbox then.
Trial and error led me to the realisation that pasting all documents into Microsoft Word’s ‘Trip Journal’ …
rather than the usual blank document, might be the solution.
By then dividing this into three volumes, and saving each of these volumes as a PDF (for export), it was possible to reduce over 150 megabytes of data down to a mere seven, which could be emailed back to everyone. The things you can learn late in life!
Volume One showcased all the formal school class photos we could muster, beginning with an adorable class of infants in 1958…
through the challenging mid teens …
where did all the boys go?!
until we turned into responsible prefects …
Volume Two held all our life stories and current photos, outlining in more—or less— detail what we’d been up to since leaving school. Hearing so many tales about the boarders’ homesickness made me realise that it hadn’t been the jolly hockey sticks and midnight feasts that we day-scholars assumed.
One of my classmates wrote a particularly poignant remembrance of being left by her parents at boarding school for the first time:
Standing inside the front door there’s just the dark silhouette, the two of them walking out and away from the front door. It was a large sturdy heavy wooden door that easily glided open and glided shut, with a click. It was a ‘characterful’ door, stained glass in the top half of it and/or either side of it. As the two of them walk away there’s the dull realisation that you are staying …
Another story recalled those mortifying moments of adolescence:
I’ll never forget that school concert when our Latin Class had to sing My Darling Clementine in Latin—“Oh Divina Clementina”—dressed in togas and holding scrolls, (you couldn’t make this up, could you?) and my toga fell off in mid song. There’s no coming back from that.
Volume Three contained all the unofficial photographs people managed to dig out of storage—long forgotten school picnic days, a class trip to Tasmania in 1969, and several ‘formals’ held with the boys from our brother school.
I only recall these dances as a vaseline blur. We all knew that ‘men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses’ so I’d refuse to wear my much needed spectacles on these occasions, which meant I had no idea if the aforementioned ‘men’ had me in their sights or not. The events were terrifying.
Well over half the class contributed to the Reunion Book, and we realise that when we do meet up IRL, we’ll be able to hit the ground running. No awkward, ‘And where are you living, now?’ or ‘Do you have grandchildren?’
Nothing of the sort. Now we know each other well enough to cut straight to the chase. I can’t wait to find out from Sarah* what it was like to run a chalet in Austria, or ask Marilyn* to give me some tips from the head of the Sogetsu school for Flower Arrangement after her years spent translating in Osaka, or quiz Barbara* about the archeological digs she enjoyed with her husband.
A delicious entrée. I can’t wait for the main course.
*Not their real names, but definitely their real lives