On behalf of the very groovy Whittier Class of 1969, heartfelt thanks go to those who helped create a truly magical reunion: Dan Haley, Ken Trainor and Evan O'Brien of Wednesday Journal, for showcasing the reunion's soul.
Marya Brezon Margolis, Ed Hernandez, Nancy Schiffner and Julie Zweigoren for pausing during the reunion to collect, and eloquently write, their thoughts for publication.
Tyler Watkins and Frank Lipo of the Historical Society, and Chris Jasculca and Sue Saliny of District 97, for photos and documents that fueled memories.
Eileen Benson Immerman for organizing a jam-packed weekend, finding classmates, encouraging (sometimes cajoling) their participation and creating a beautiful book brimming with their memories. Eileen's husband Steve for generosity of photos, music, humor and spousal support.
Bob and Anne Johnson for their hospitality in opening up their home, hearts and tented yard, and to their neighbors who heard our squeals of delight as we reconnected with old friends. Bob, for organizing the trolley ride that took us back in years to our old neighborhood, and to Whittier's door.
Barb Bailey Walsh for a Whittier tour of reawakened memories. Our inner children shrieked in the gym, sang in the music room and skipped down the halls to the old kindergarten room.
Vince Michael, chairman of historic preservation of the Art Institute, for a truly fun tour of historic Oak Park that introduced many to the architecture taken for granted in our youth.
Anthony Gambino of Cucina Paradiso, for his generosity, gracious accommodations, delicious food and for Poppy and his wonderful staff.
Bernadette Staszewski and Holly Hansen of Visit Oak Park, Stuart Abel of the Carleton, and Sign Express.
Dan McLaren for providing sound and sights to help us reconnect.
Charlotte Csakai Mesimore, (with husband and soundman Greg), for creating and performing songs to which we sang along, laughed and cried.
Nancy Schiffner, for corresponding with faculty, resulting in many traveling from afar to be reacquainted as friends with former students. And for enabling Mr. Butcher to lead us in our graduation song, "The Road Less Traveled."
Our principal, Neil Sheehan, his wife Jean and our teachers, Carol Baughman Dudzik (with husband John), Larry Butcher, Richard Gillogly, Mary Kay Higgins Eder (with husband Francis), Marlene Slavin Fogarty (with husband Michael), for comments at the microphone that made us laugh and feel loved. Our private conversations turned to our common interests, our collective careers, our children and their educations. Thank you all for helping shape our youth, and for reconnecting 41 years later to share life's stories.
Finally, thanks to Whittier classmates who put the desire to reconnect with each other above individual self-consciousness of graying hair, balding heads or added pounds. And thanks to the relatives and spouses who accompanied classmates, and heard our childhood memories, resurrected by the communal cry of "remember when?" Hopefully, our time together told you more about the person you love, just as our meeting you has broadened our knowledge of the people we have all become.
Karen Doty is an Oak Park resident.