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50 Year Reunion - for Elementary School
Yes, we are celebrating our 50 year reunion together. I went to a local Catholic grammar school where we went from Kindergarten through eighth grade together. I did write a hub about going to Catholic School but I think this one is different. The fact that it was a local school meant that we not only spent time together throughout the school day but we rushed home, changed our clothes and went outside to play together. Our schoolmates were like extended family. So, fifty years to the day from our graduation we are holding a reunion. To many of you this hub will seem ludicrous but to us it is essential. High Schools brought kids together from many different neighborhoods and backgrounds, the bond was broken. The bond we had in elementary school will never be broken for us and is most likely not understandable to those who didn’t share a similar bond.
For example, every day from K through 8 we began our day together at morning Mass. We lined up in the school yard waiting to be taken over to Church, a great time to chat or play tag. We sat with our class in Church, and with the nun who was our teacher for that year. We started off by praying together. Of course, once we got outside of church it might not have been so evident that we were just praying if it was not for the nuns who kept us in line, two by two, as we walked from the church across the street to the school. We chatted and marched accordingly. Once settled in our classrooms we rose to Pledge Allegiance to our flag and begin with a morning prayer. After that our day was much like anyone else’s in any school anywhere. We began our lessons. You need to know I went to elementary school in the fifties, graduating from 8th grade on June 25, 1961. Our day consisted of the usual at the time with emphasis on Religion, reading, writing and arithmetic. Memorization was a must, no questions asked. I can remember my first Catechism questions from first grade, to this day;
“Who Made Us?” A. God made us.
“Why did God Make Us?” A. God made us to know Him, to love him and to serve Him on earth.
That’s a long time to remember and without going further I think you get the idea. So morning lessons continued till noontime. As noon approached and the Church bells rang we recited “The Angelus.” Once our prayer was over we headed home for lunch. Yes, we went home for lunch. We walked home with our friends and met them after lunch to walk back to school. Going back to school was fun because we could stop at the fish store and get french fries, or get a nickel pretzel from the pretzel lady who stood across the street from school every day. You could stop at the candy store to pick up a few items but lunchtime seemed to be the appropriate time for fries or pretzels. We returned to the classroom and continued our lessons together till 3:00. On Monday afternoons we went over the Church after school to attend Novena together before going home and if you were really lucky you got to attend Novena on Friday night. Friday night Novena was extra special because at the end everyone sang as song called “Good Night Sweet Jesus” and as we sang one by one the lights in the Church were turned out until all was dark. Even to a little kid it was a moving experience.
Once home we changed our clothes as quickly as possible and went out to play with the same kids we just said good-bye to at school. There was no technology back then and you only stayed in the house if you were sick or you were being grounded for something terrible. We’d meet up at the local park and sometimes just stay at the park and play basketball, softball, handball or knock hockey. You had to wait your turn to play knock hockey because there was only one of them and everyone wanted to play. There were four handball courts and you could play doubles so it wasn’t so bad waiting for one of them. But if you didn’t want to play at the park you could always just ride your bike. We rode our bikes everywhere, and always with friends. As you got older you could even ride them in the “gutter” instead of on the sidewalk.
Those weren’t the only options we had. You could go to a friend’s house or invite your friends to your house to play stoopball or ring-a-leeve-o or even hide and seek. Dinner time you’d all go home to eat and then do homework. If you got your homework done early enough you could call your friends to compare notes on the day’s events, that is if your parents let you tie up the phone.
Saturdays were great. You could start playing early in the morning and continue until dark, only taking breaks for food. Of course a lot of Saturday afternoons were spent at the movies or the roller rink. Sundays followed the same pattern, but after Mass.
Everyone was doing the same things you were and they were doing them together. Even though you saw each other all weekend long, when Monday and school came around you would compare notes on Monday morning in the school yard. This was also a good time for the nuns to get a feel for what you’d been up to. They would walk around the schoolyard and listen to the chatter, sometimes joining in. It was a great treat to have Sister stand and talk to your group! The nuns were very young and very pretty and we all looked up to them. Every girl, at some time in elementary school, wanted to join the convent when she grew up.
When I said before that everyone knew everyone I really meant it. It wasn’t just us, it was our parents too. A lot of them had gone to school together or had grown up in the same neighborhood. Many had moved from Brooklyn to Queens around the same time. Many were good friends and had been for years. I don’t think there were any secrets in our neighborhood because everybody knew what was going on with everybody. Even the shopkeepers were in on it. You couldn’t go into the candy store and get away with anything because Jack or Edith (the owners) would say, “Does your mother know you’re buying that?” or “Should you be eating that so close to supper?” In all our neighborhood there was one divorced lady whom everyone felt sorry for. Evidently her husband had been abusive and now she was all alone with two boys. Speaking of two, we had three sets of twins in our little circle. Two sets of identical boy twins and one set of boy-girls twins. Except for the twins, everyone else thought it was the coolest thing.
We had 80 students in our graduating class. They had broken us up into two classes in second grade because there were so many of us. It didn’t mean that much to us but pity the poor nun who had to deal with that first grade class. We received all of our sacraments together, comparing dresses at First Communion and all wearing the same gowns at confirmation and graduation. There was very little interest in who had more money than whom. The girls wore uniforms and the boys navy blue pants, white shirts and red ties. No one cared about who wore what after school. The most interesting thing was that there were three or four mothers who actually went to work, can you imagine? Nobody’s mother worked in those days.
So now you have a little background into our little class. Believe it or not, this is our third reunion! The other two were successful on a small scale. This time we have near 45 ‘students’ out of 80 attending. Unfortunately we have lost several classmates; one or two to Viet Nam, and the others to natural causes. So, all things considered this is going to be a great reunion. We have friends attending from California to Florida and many states in between. We have all been in communication through email and Facebook and are so excited to see each other again. Many of us haven’t seen each other since June 25, 1961. We’ve been chatting about hotel reservations, what we’re wearing, and how long we're staying. Can't wait for the big day. Watch for Part II to see how it went!
- 50th Year Reunion Part Deux
An elementary school reunion that will warm your heart. Fifty years later a group of classmates come together to celebrate their youth and share their warm memories.