PAINTER: To attend or not attend my 50th class reunion?

Nov 28, 2012


My 50th high school class reunion will take place this coming summer.

It’s hard to believe that I graduated from Southgate (now Southgate Anderson) High School that long ago.

We were the first graduating class at Southgate. Schafer High School, on the other side of town, had been in existence for a longer period of time. I believe there were about 120 seniors in 1963.

In 1982, Southgate and Schafer high schools were combined and renamed Southgate Anderson High School. Schafer’s building was closed. The new high school was named after the former mayor of Southgate, who lived just a few blocks from where I grew up.

Southgate’s 1963 class had some very bright students. Several students went on to become doctors. Others became lawyers, successful business owners and teachers. For a blue-collar town, there were quite a few students who attended college.

Our class, though, didn’t have the most famous graduate. That distinction, according to the school district’s website, belongs to Jeff Jones, the Detroit Tigers pitching coach. Jeff graduated quite a few years after we did. Jeff even pitched in the Major Leagues for the Oakland A’s.

Southgate was a thriving blue-collar community in the 1960s. Steel mills and automotive factories flourished in what was called the Downriver area. My father worked in a steel mill in Trenton, a nearby community.

I’ve not decided yet whether I’m going to attend my 50th class reunion. The one and only reunion that I have been to was our 25th class reunion. I do remember having a pretty good time.

Like many other people, high school had its positive and negative moments.

I wasn’t part of the elite group of students who dominated the Student Council, various clubs and athletics. But I don’t recall ever being bullied. A friend of mine helped in that area.

John could probably best be described as being like one of the gang members in the movie “Grease.” He slicked his hair back and smoked cigarettes. Many of the students feared him, but we got along great. I used to go to his house to play basketball.

Some of the “tough” kids in school knew that John was my friend and left me alone.

My best friends and I were more into athletics than anything else. We spent hours at open gym, playing basketball. I played on the junior varsity basketball team and the varsity baseball team. While I was a very good shooter in basketball, my future with the team was doomed by my size. I was 6 feet tall, but weighed just 135 pounds.

It wasn’t until I joined the Navy when I gained weight and became stronger.

So, I channeled my energies into becoming sports editor of the high school newspaper.

Our newspaper wasn’t anything like the Bucs’ Blade. We typed our stories on mimeograph sheets and then produced enough copies for the students.

The best part about the job was being able to attend football and basketball games for free. That experience also led to my career choice to become a journalist.

I took my responsibilities too far, though, when I wrote a column about how good a golfer I had become. The story was greatly exaggerated. I was embarrassed, though, after the golf coach approached me and asked me if I wanted to be on the team. I had to tell him the truth: I was a terrible golfer.

I have kept in touch with some of my former classmates through Facebook. Some haven’t changed much in appearance, but others have significantly.

There are many classmates who I would like to see again. But there are some who weren’t so friendly in high school, and I really don’t care if I see them or not.

I still have some to think about whether to attend my 50th reunion.



i too keep in touch with some of my old friends on facebook, we just had our 40th class reunion and was invited, the truth is most of my classmates i had close relationships with are gone and the rest i dont care about, i thought for awhile, when the time came, i decided not too, guess it dont matter anyway after all these years, thanks, have nice day


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