As we move into a new year, full of hope, I am enjoying some wonderful memories. Here’s one, written in 2006:

A 40th high school reunion can be an unpleasant look in the mirror, wondering who that gray-haired old buzzard is staring back at you. Mine was a very pleasant surprise. Apprehension was quickly set aside by the real pleasure of seeing friends who had dropped out of my life so many years ago.

The Augusta Country Club put out a delicious buffet as a few dozen survivors of the Winthrop High School class of 1966 gathered with spouses to find out how our lives had turned out. Actually, the good news is that most members of our class of 107 are still alive and kicking. Well, maybe not kicking; shuffling is more accurate.

Alas, I can’t say the same for our high school. The old building is gone. So are most of the businesses on Main Street. Who could have imagined the end of McNamara’s Restaurant? Bruneau’s Market? Wilson’s Dollar Stores?

We are reminded that so much of life is transitory and fleeting. I’m old enough to remember the bowling alley at Maranacook Lodge, where a kid set up the pins after you knocked them down. I remember trains delivering passengers at the railroad depot at the end of my street.

I remember Memorial Drive when it was only a handful of camps. It’s now crowded with expensive year-round homes: Maine’s story written in a once-small town. And of course, I remember a bunch of young kids full of vim and vigor. Ah, but we’ve aged well.

Wife Linda had prepared me for the event, warning that many of my classmates are probably retired. I doubted it. She was right. Mel Wade has retired from the military and a second career as well. Barry Scott retired three years ago from teaching high school math.

Others retired but still work part time, including Jeff Bond, retired from the National Guard but now working part-time for them as a civilian, and Greg Foster, down to two days a week at his law firm.

When I groused to these guys that I was still working full time, they said, “Hey, all you do is hunt and fish!” Well, of course — that’s my work.

I was fascinated by some of the choices my classmates had made in their lives. Lew Caraganis, the smartest guy in a class of smart kids, went to Bowdoin College, kicked around for a while, built boats, sailed the seas, and anchored in North Carolina, where he has his own construction company. He described his odyssey to find something significant to do with his life — a search that certainly resonated with many of us.

Mark Stevens went even further, to the far reaches of the wilderness of British Columbia, where he carved out a home, raised a family, and found satisfying work. His kids are scattered all over the place now. One is a professional beach volleyball player.

Of course, many shared news of their kids and quite a few could trot out stories about grandchildren, so I got in a few licks bragging about my own grandson Addison.

As we went around the room, each classmate speaking about his or her life, work, and family, I was carried back to the old brick building where we spent four long years — without a clue, really. Oh, if I could only go back, knowing what I know now.

Well, some would argue today I know less than I did in 1966, and in some ways, that’s true. At age 57, I guess I’m on the down slope of life, shedding brain cells as I shush down the trail.

At least I wasn’t the only one with a spare part. The stent that cleared my clogged artery was topped by a new kidney received recently by the still-youthful Martha Ashley Kelly. We shared our concerns for a fellow classmate struggling with cancer, and signed a card for him, a reminder of the fact that good health is a special blessing, never taken for granted.

While many of the — well, they’re still girls to me — looked marvelous, us guys looked like a bunch of guys in their 50s. What’s that you say? We are a bunch of guys in our 50s? OK, but you don’t have to be so smug about it.

I remember when the age of 20 seemed old, and I thought anyone over 50 was ancient. Now I am one.

Oh, well. This reunion was a night of memories, updated.  I can’t wait for the next one.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.