Yes, we’re getting older, but we’re also getting better. Our 40th-year reunion demonstrated that in nearly every sense of the word.
The Aug. 28-29 event was even better, some said, than the fabled 20th, and it was nearly twice as large as the intimate 30th.
We pulled this one off ourselves, as the reunion agency Class Acts no longer stages these events. John Martin, Cora Gangware, Debbie Blackman Unruh and Jody Miller Kishpaugh spearheaded a committee that lined up the venues at DaVinci’s and Rudy’s, figured out how to finance the venture, got this web site going, planned the decorations and located a lot of hard-to-reach classmates.
The web site set the tone for the real outreach, renewing old ties and creating several new ones. Jody and I tried to stimulate devotion to the portion dedicated to classmates who have passed away, and that led to contributions, most of them fascinating, from many of us. Sue Proctor Armstrong, Jan Horning and Robert Curtis were among those who became frequent collaborators in that area.
I was one of Cora and Jody’s top lieutenants on the committee. I tended to report to Jody on the tributes front. We also needed a soundtrack of late Sixties rock ‘n’ roll, so Cora asked me to superintend, which meant I pretty much had to account for the five-hour time bloc at Rudy’s.
Since we had a sensational professional band, Freefall, playing during the third hour (singer-guitarists John Martin, Clark Blanchard and Guy Greider plus drummer Ron Leach, Corvallis, ’69), the music was the highlight of the evening. Aside from that hour, however, it would have been foolish to interrupt the flow of the party. That’s why we ended up not hearing three of the songs from Guy’s slick new CD, two primitively engineered songs from my circa-2002 group the Stragglyrs, and a CD that Grant Beardsley brought along from Freefall’s mid-1960s incarnation, Little John & the Merrymen. We also couldn’t hear much from the recordings compiled by Tom Thornton, Bert Paul and me. The tunes were no match for the cacophony created by nearly 100 grads and spouses, who arrived early, stayed late and clearly felt great.
I really wallowed in the Sixties throughout the summer. I considered hundreds of songs so the soundtrack wouldn’t elicit T.G.I. Friday’s. I purchased a Vietnam War DVD. The San Jose Mercury News assigned me a most appropriate theater review, a new musical set in rural Georgia, circa 1964.
But without y’all, I would have enjoyed a lot less consciousness-raising. I got the sense that many classmates really needed the helping hands that felt more readily available this summer than they were in the day. I came away feeling better about the entire South Salem experience, and I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one.
--Kim (Colin) Seymour