Cook: Nostalgic in Georgia
Several weeks ago, I went back to my hometown of Atlanta to attend my 50th high school reunion. I brought along my wife, Bobbie, so she could meet the people behind the stories I shared with her from my childhood.
I met Bobbie while stationed with the Navy in California. Over our 45 years of marriage, she has met just a few of the characters of my past. She discovered that the stories I tell were actually true!
As much as I love Forest Grove, lately, I have been feeling nostalgic about the past. I left Atlanta to join the Navy when I was 18. Never went back to live, just to visit.
Facebook helps with making some connection, but I really wanted to see my "old" friends again. I could not help but thinking while looking across the crowd during our dinner/dance evening: "Wow, these folks are looking really old."
My wife reminded me that I was part of that observation!
I was fortunate growing up in the South in the '50s and '60s. I attended only two schools: elementary (kindergarten through seventh grade) and high school (eighth through 12th grade). We did not have a middle or junior high school.
And about a quarter of my 125-strong graduating class all grew up together for those 13 years. Ten of them were my closest friends, many of whom were there for the reunion. We gathered around the old yearbooks — laughed at the hairdoes, recalled the stories, and even shed a tear or two when we read from the memorial roll of the 20 or so of our friends now gone.
The highlight was the live retro '60s band. They played the songs of our youth: "Twist and Shout," "Good Vibrations," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "White Rabbit" and "Wild Thing."
Some danced. Some could not.
The band saved the best for the last: "The Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams. Everyone knew that this song wasn't written until the '80s, but the chorus clearly describes how we felt in the '60s: "Those were the best days of my life."
The entire class got up on the dance floor. Some even had their walking canes with them. We twisted, wiggled and shimmied one last time.
I remembered looking across the crowd and watching everyone's face light up with a smile. And for a few minutes, just a few minutes, we were kids again.
Now that is something to think about.
Tom Cook is a volunteer chaplain for the Forest Grove Police Department and Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.
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