Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2003 VCHS Reunion

I got a note from the ever vigilant Les, asking me if I would post some comments that I wrote after attending my high school reunion.  I am sure he won't mind, but I am posting a portion of his note here:

"Hi Glenn , Les here...........I came across your posted message from years ago,..I had also read this same message ,way back when as well....but Yesterday as I was doing a random Verdun ,Montreal search for 'stuff' to post, I came across your msg, and of course your ... note after an '03 reunion?
I was wondering if you would like to post that same message on the Verdun Connections site, as I think it would inspire some to respond, You definetly took the time to write that note. I'm sure the 'lit' teachers would be proud..... In anycase I think everyone would appreciate your ... recall of your reunion,the lead up to, & of course the actual meet & greet's............HF&RV"

So, without further ado, here it is.  Grab a cup of tea or coffee, as it does go on and on....Thanks, Glenn.

Reunion Reflections.

This was written shortly after attending
my high school reunion in 2003.

It was sometime in 1998 or 1999 that I had the idea.  I remembered the twentieth reunion, and how great it was to see everyone again.  Not many people attended, for one reason or another.  Back then, it was harder to contact everyone, and keep updating the info.

So, I bought a scanner, scanned the grad pictures and posted them on the Internet, hoping anyone who found them would contact me.  They were there for a long time and eventually someone did.  But the visits were few and far between and not always from classmates from 1973.  Often, it was a connection to the school from a different year, or just someone from Verdun.

Then, out of the blue, I received an email from one of our classmates.  Someone wanted to have a reunion in 2003 – thirty years after graduation.  Who knew back then that many of us would look back with a fondness for the old place?

And that was the genesis for the weekend we all just enjoyed.  Several people worked very hard to bring it all together and from the comments on the website, it was worth it.

How many of us were perhaps not thrilled with the idea of meeting up with everyone after thirty years?  Perhaps a little shy, a little vanity may have taken over.  A few extra pounds for some, a little gray hair – or a lot less hair for others.  Thankfully, curiosity got the better of us, and we showed up anyway.

There may have been some former boy/girl friend combinations there, some long forgotten crushes (at least in my case); some friends who were inseparable in school, who have not seen each other in years.  It was good to see high school sweethearts still together.

Personally, I experienced a whole range of emotions.  Initially, I was looking forward to the whole weekend.  I was fortunate to be involved from the beginning, to see it evolve from a handful of people to over one hundred registered on the website.  I was saddened more than I would have thought upon hearing of those who are no longer with us.  Some I knew better than others, but I knew them all well enough to feel the loss.

As the day approached that we were to gather at the pub, my enthusiasm waned.  Not sure why, it just did. 

To recreate my trip to a bar downtown – which I did all too frequently in my earlier days – I took the Metro.  I was a little early, so I decided to get off at Guy, and walk to the old Hunter’s Horn.  I strolled along St. Catherine, walked down to what once was Dorchester (remember, I left in 1980), up Bishop to Maisonneuve, looked into Ben’s, and then walked down Peel to McLean’s.

Fortunately, the bar was dark so we could all blend in nicely.  On that evening I had some difficulty placing the face with the name in a few cases.  But so did everyone else and everyone seemed to be very understanding.

I spoke with a few people that evening more than I talked with them during our entire time at VCHS.  As strange as that seems, I imagine it was true for others as well.  I learned what a few people did for a living; talked with some who were in the same line of work.  Reminisced with others about some of the other people in the room.  Compared notes; shared history; learned of their families; heard of ‘late bloomers’; saw photo’s; had someone concerned that I would not let go of my jacket; complained to my old ‘campaign manager’; wished I could have stayed longer and talked more.   It was a quiet low-key affair, the perfect way to kick off the weekend and get over the jitters – at least for me.  I was also thankful that my luggage finally arrived that afternoon so I had a change of clothes!  That would have been quite a first impression to make.

Saturday night was just more of the same, with more faces to place, spouses to meet and now teachers to see.  One teacher, who I had in grade six at St. Thomas More as well as at VCHS, came up to me with hand extended and said, “ Hello Glenn, still live on Moffat?”  Unbelievable, to say the least.  For those who don’t know, I lived on Moffat, between the School and the Church.  We would regularly have to go to the church, and would march down the street, two by two.  Each time, my mother would be there, waving, embarrassing me to no end.  This teacher remembered.

Another teacher did not remember me so well, which is expected.  He asked where I sat in class and I explained I started the year at the back, but was moved to the front row very soon.  “Oh, one of those students, eh?”  A little later on in the evening he came by and asked me a history question.  Luckily for me, I knew the answer and he smiled.  Not sure if he was surprised or impressed that I knew the answer!

A few of the candidates for the Carnival King and Queen were in attendance, as well as Student Council President.  In fact, our Queen was there, but she failed to give a speech to the class.  Our King did not attend, nor was he reached at all.  Some of those who ran against him spoke of that campaign.  What were we thinking running against him anyway?  Mr. Cool, high school heartthrob; we decided that the rest of the contenders probably each received one vote (their own) and the rest went to the King.  At least we still got to go the Carnival Dance in the mountains – either Belle Neige or Avila.

I spoke to people who remembered things we did together that I did not recall.  For some reason, certain things stick in your head.  There is no rhyme or reason; they just stick in your mind.  Someone remembered trying to talk me out of going home one night – I was tired, they were not.  It was only eleven o’clock they said.  I remember being with him always, but not that particular incident.

With another, we briefly talked of our camping trips to the States, or Ontario.  Fortunately, we did not get into the details of the weekends, or the ‘trips’, as it were.  But we did briefly talk of the big blue van we used, and the driver of that van, who sadly is no longer with us.

I made an effort to talk with every classmate who was in attendance on Saturday, and if I missed you, it was not intentional.  But in so doing, I did not get to spend as much time with any single person or group of people that I would have liked.  The decisions we have to make, now that we are the people our parents warned us about.

I saw a photograph of myself at a sixteenth birthday party.  Man, did I think I was cool.  At least that is the way it looked in the photo.  Looking back, I am surprised anyone even talked to me.  Now I understand why some of the ‘bigger’ guys would beat up on me.

I remember one fight I had with someone who was at the reunion – no, I did not bring it up.  I do remember being beaten quite badly, but like the stubborn fool I sometimes still am, I refused to give up.  Mercifully, someone else came to my rescue and stopped the fight.  He became my bodyguard for many years in high school.  He felt bad for me more than once, as he broke my arm in sixth grade – I think accidentally.  Unfortunately, he was not at the reunion – I don’t think he made it to grade eleven.

Someone asked me to recreate my awful performance at the Variety Show.  I know it was brought up to others as well.  Thankfully, no one else thought it was a good idea.  But walking around the stage at the Auditorium sure brought back some memories.  I was reminded that we even took the show on the road, performing at the Douglas Hospital.

On Sunday, if the park, after the walk down memory lane in the school, while walking back to my car, yet another old friend appeared out of the shadows.  We looked at each other from about one hundred feet, and he stopped, lowered his head, looked up and said “F%#$ OFF, Glenn Larkin!  The tone of the voice was so funny, but you had to be there.  Thirty years were wiped away, and we were ready to go to the park and play some football. 

It is often the little things that are forgotten as well, like humbugs or Woodland Pizza.  Thanks to some quick thinking, there were a bunch of them at the baseball diamond for us to all enjoy.

Old secret crushes were remembered, some of the brutal teasing that the girls did to the boys.  Oh all right, that the boys did to the girls as well.  High school dances in the gym, sock hops in the assembly hall with the low ceiling, barely any light.  All the girls dancing and the guys, oh so cool, standing against the wall – secretly wishing they could be slow dancing with someone.

There were many more remembrances like this over the three days.  Many more than you would care to read about, I am sure.  Hopefully, my memory holds onto those better than it has of my school years.  I hope all of you that attended had the same, or better, response that I had. 

I should tell you that even my wife got something out of the weekend.  First, to her great surprise, her Aunt and Uncle were the bartenders at the hall, so she was not at all bored.  Most of you probably got to meet her at the bar – she was the good-looking one.  Then, after the tour of our old school, she missed her high school, in St. Anne de Bellevue.  She called her nephew who currently attends and she was able to take a tour after school the following Thursday.  She even was luckily enough to meet one of her old teachers.  We don’t know who was more excited, my wife or the teacher.

With all good intentions, I am sure we would all like to stay in touch, perhaps meet up once a year (at least).  The reality is that it will probably not happen.  Maybe a few will stay in touch via this web site or email.  I hope so.  I would like to sign on to the web site occasionally and read about how someone remembers me, or how anyone remembers anyone else that attended our school. 

For those who were unable to attend, I hope the photos and stories give you some sense of what it was like to be there.  For those of you who chose not to attend, for any number of reasons, it was your loss as well as ours.  It would have been great to see and talk with you again.

Enough of the maudlin reminisces; this is becoming too long winded as it is – now you all know why I did not speak at the reunion!  A big thank you to all who attended; all who organized; all who have left comments on the site thus far; all the pictures that I have seen and hope to see posted; to the class of 72, who offered us tips on what to avoid; to the teachers, who got to see first hand the results of their work from thirty years ago (they did a remarkable job, considering what they had to work with); and thank you to the person who sent me an email to get the party started.




Les F said...

Thanks Glenn,it was well written & written in good spirit then ,as it reads now.....Thanks Again

Glenn Larkin said...

And thank you for recommending it. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Sandy Walsh said...

A great read - I could picture it all as I was reading it. Thanks!

Walter Ryan said...

Really enjoyed reading your reunion-Walter

Laurie Etienne said...

Loved the recollection of the reunion !.

Glenn Larkin said...

I just want to say Thank You to all for the kind words regarding my reunion recollection.