During Whittier School's class of 1969 reunion, Charlotte Csakai Mesimore led attendees in a song she had adapted to the tune of Paul McCartney's "Yesterday". The song honored teachers, and those in attendance.
It's funny how memory works. We tend to magnify and pick at the small disappointments, hurts and slights. I think that's why some folks (myself included) were reluctant to reopen that chapter in our lives and attend our 41st Whittier grade school reunion.
Oak Park was not hip when we graduated in 1969, so visiting now is a bit of a shock. I still expect it to be the 'Leave It to Beaver' town I grew up in. I can't quite take in the polish it's acquired. Downtown Oak Park has gone from Woolworth's to sushi restaurants. It's a relief to see the Cozy Corner restaurant is still there -- I used to get a cheeseburger and a Coke for under $2.
It's Tuesday and I'll be "home" Friday afternoon. Although I was just in Oak Park last Sunday at mom and dad's, this feels different. I'll be seeing people I really haven't been in contact with for 41 years.
It's now Sunday night and the reunion is over. I'm still internally de-briefing, recalling, in my mind, the incredible event this past weekend became. Seeing classmates, teachers, our principal and Whittier itself was incredible. However, what really sticks in my mind, are all the conversations, photos, and tributes.
Seventy-six names are listed on the Whittier School Promotion Exercises program from Wednesday, June 11, 1969. Last weekend, 25 of us named in that program, along with our beloved music teacher, Mr. Butcher and revered Principal, Mr. Neil Sheehan, traveled from across the U.S. for various, perhaps similar, personal reasons to celebrate that event.