WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — “So who’d you see?” my mother asked. We’d just sipped from our drinks – hers a nice white wine, mine an imported German beer — at a fine restaurant on 84th and Madison.
“A lot of people you know,” I said. Recalling names by neighborhood I diligently listed all of the fun, accomplished, and at times trouble making friends that she knew back in the day. “Eddie Weil and Lisa Schwatertzenberg. They’re married. Michael Shames, Jeff Zucker, Mindy Litt, Nancy London, Patsi Takashi. Ann Wilson, Carol Hubbard, Mindy Kaufman, Andy Feinman, Jayne Stogel, John Herzfeld, Peppi Murphy, Gail Bruesewitz, Chris Renino, Al Renino, Bill Wolfram, Amy Stichman.
“And your favorites, Mom,” I said laughing. “Bobby Fargo, Bobby Monahan, Geoff Keenan.”
“Oh my,” she said. “All those people?”
Indeed, all those people she knew. A number from the time we were five and six years old. And so many more people who attended that she wouldn’t recognize. White Plains baby boomers gathered to connect again. And as I explained the allegiances, the desire to convene, the joy of the hugs, the love, the mirth and energy in the room at our 40th high school reunion, I found reasons for Saturday evening’s delight.
Here they are. Let me know what you think.
— Right at the very top of the list is Jayne Stogel Hynes. For decades now Jayne has organized the reunions and provided stylish staging for these events. What Jayne is doing is a gift to our class and to those who attend. In the process she’s part of each of our lives, providing dimensions of community and trust that are unique and extraordinarily valuable. Jayne has played a huge role in deepening lifelong friendships. It’s a selfless, transcendent act of consistency, loyalty, and love. Thank you Jayne.
— We came up during an America that no longer exists. Like virtually all of my friends, my life was a model of family and community stability. Parents didn’t split up. Parents almost never died. Parents expected a lot of their children, and children delivered. Families prospered and almost nobody moved away. In my Highlands neighborhood houses were full of children of roughly the same ages. During weekends and holidays we poured onto Ralph Field to play football in the fall, baseball in the spring, and sled in the winter.
— White Plains had three K-9 schools. I attended Highlands, which meant that a good number of us were in the same school our entire grade school lives — for 10 years at Highlands and three more years at the high school. The same goes for the two other K-9 schools — Eastview and Battle Hill. Spend that much time together at such a formative age and you get to know each other pretty well.
— We were mobile. Not just in high school when we were driving. But also as little kids. My mother, like most of my friends’ mothers, let us roam seemingly at will. Imagine. We had bicycles and took long rides together to other suburbs, to downtown White Plains, to our friends’ homes. My mother kept track by setting rules around meal attendance. Be back for lunch, she’d direct. Dinner is at 7:00. If I didn’t show up on time, she wasn’t happy. Once, as a sixth grader, I was hanging out with Pat O’Brien at the old Highlands stadium and was an hour late getting home for dinner. There was a police cruiser in the driveway.
— We are good people. We shared principles and values shaped by our families and forged in an era of social transition. It helped us to be energetic and fun and smart and easy to get to know. We also were very good at merging our social groups, like schools of fish that meet and for a time swim together before dispersing. We liked hanging out and gathering in big parties and getting high and roaming — boys and girls together. We were drawn to each other and watched out for one another. All these ingredients, stirred so vigorously during our high school years, produced a rare formula for understanding, shared experience, and loyalty.
Reunion weekend was a blast. Let’s stay in touch.
— Keith Schneider