|Photo courtesy Jim Frith|
Approximately forty members of the Class of 77 converged on The Third Bay last night, and I'm pretty sure I felt my heart stutter a bit. Some I barely recognized. Some hadn't had the courtesy to age a day after all this time. We'd had reunions at 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years, but we missed out on a 35-year gathering. A shame, to be sure, as a lot of these folks I'd not seen since the last reunion, and several others not since our actual graduation.
In those days, I was probably too young, too brash, too naive, and too close to see what a superlative bunch of people the Class of 77 comprised. (Of course, back then, any of number of us yet had plenty of room for our brains and hearts to grow!) Some of us were great friends. Others of us were barely casual acquaintances. But we saw each other every day. Speaking for myself, and no doubt certain others, we took the school, the town, and the people somewhat for granted; for those of us who'd grown up in Martinsville — the majority of us, I believe — everything and everyone in town were the ultimate in familiarity, and you know what they say about that word. But getting back together now, I can safely say these folks are exceptional. Many of us traded stories about old times as well as what we're doing now. Much of what I heard humbled me. So much selflessness, compassion, and all-around human decency, all gathered in that little restaurant — and I gotta tell you, from some of these people, that blew my mind.
Okay, I jest. At least a little. But I came away last night feeling a sense of pride, and a deep respect for so many classmates I haven't so much as spoken to in way too many years.
A "real" reunion is planned for October of this year, hopefully with even more of our class showing up. Thanks in particular to Tim Hall and Baxter Robertson for coordinating this event, and to Tim Pharr for overseeing the one that is to come. To you folks I've known over all these years, whether we've actually been close or little more than memories, I salute you.