Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Half Century of Change



There were a hundred guys in my high school class. At the 50th reunion last Saturday, I learned that a third of them are dead. Keith Academy was a private, Catholic prep school for boys in Lowell, Massachusetts that closed in 1970. Also at the reunion were survivors of a similar-sized class from Keith Hall, the Catholic prep school for girls across town. They, however, had lost only eight. On a screen, reunion organizers from both schools displayed graduation pictures of the men first, one at a time. I recognized them all and wondered what killed them, but I’d been in Maine for forty-two years and out of touch with all those people.

Keith Academy
A former classmate looked me up and left a voicemail with a pronounced Boston accent months ago but I was ambivalent about going. I sent in the $50 to keep my options open and put the date in the calendar on my smartphone. My parents sent me to Keith Academy but I had wanted to go to Tewksbury High with my childhood friends. For four years I felt out of place there.
This had been a small ranch. It has quadrupled.
I drove down early so I could visit the Tewksbury, Massachusetts neighborhood in which I had grown up. The dead-end street I remembered with thirty small capes and ranches on quarter-acre lots, seemed shorter. I’d walked up and down it thousands of times during my childhood — to the bus stop and back every day, then again on my afternoon paper route. Almost every house had doubled in size although there were far fewer children living in them.

At least the woods were pretty much the same
It was a sunny, Saturday afternoon in November. Sixty years ago there would have been a sandlot football game going on and dozens of other kids would be engaged in various playful activities on the street, but all I saw last weekend were two mothers teaching their toddlers to ride tricycles. No other children were visible.

Our old house
Not knowing who lived in our old house, I drove past it to the end of the street and parked. What I really wanted to check out were the nearby woods where I had spent most of my boyhood. About a dozen houses occupied what had been part of the old woods, but most of the white pine forest was still there. In the deepest part of it, I startled two boys beside a small campfire. About eleven or twelve, they reminded me of myself and my best friend Philip when we habituated the area. We chatted a while before I hiked back to my car.

St. William's School
Then I drove to St. William’s, my old elementary school about a mile and a half away, now also closed. I remembered the sandlot baseball games we played behind it but that field was gone. I looked at the entry door where we lined up to go back inside after recess. I could almost see the girls in one line and boys in the other, all of us dressed in our school uniforms with a nun supervising. I looked up at the classroom windows where I attended 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Some of my classmates at St. William’s went on to Keith Academy as I did, and Keith Hall too, but I didn’t see any of them at the reunion later that evening. That disappointed me.


At 68 now, I wear glasses and use hearing aids. There were over a hundred people in the hall at Lowell’s Mt. Pleasant Golf Club, all talking at once and the acoustics were terrible, especially for me with my hearing impairment. A DJ played sixties music much too loudly for my liking. Not only was it difficult to understand what people were saying, but I also made myself hoarse trying to talk over the din. Twice I walked over and asked him to lower the volume until after dinner when people would start dancing. He did but turned it back up minutes later.


After dinner I found myself standing next to another former classmate from out of town and told him I live in Maine now. He said he had flown in from Washington, DC and I asked how he happened to move there. He said he’d started working for a Democrat political consulting firm in Boston which led to fundraising for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in Washington. I almost said that put us at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum and then thought: “Nah.” I get enough of that with my column and Left & Right TV Show.


At about 9 pm I concluded that my effort to enjoy myself was unsuccessful and Michael Connelly’s newest novel was on the nightstand in my hotel room. I found my jacket and went out the door. I doubt anyone missed me.

8 comments:

Reality Check said...

Just curious....who is the "they" that says Planned Parenthood clinics will close if abortion is restricted?

Reality Check said...

I didn't think you could answer that.

Kafir said...

The quote may have come from Cathi Harrod of the Center for Arizona Policy (CAP). Whatever the origin or percentage, Planned Parenthood traffics in baby body parts as a result of abortions they perform.

Reality Check said...

Fake News, Kafir.

Kafir said...

On the contrary, Reality...https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/planned-parenthood-was-just-forced-to-admit-in-court-to-harvesting-aborted-fetal-parts

Reality Check said...

Dig deeper Kafir...

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/testimony-biotech-company/

Kafir said...

Snopes? A biased site that even a Democrat wouldn’t use as a fact checking source. No wait, Dems don’t fact check anything.

Reality Check said...

Very telling that you attack the source instead of the facts contained within. Show me evidence that Snopes is biased. I'm not a Democrat, but blanket accusations like yours are childish.

How about this one:

https://oversight.house.gov/planned-parenthood-fact-v-fiction

Oh, wait, every outlet that disagrees with you is biased. When you resort to that, you have no case.