Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Photo Essay Part Three

The problem with blogging is that the order of posts often makes things like this ass-backwards. Oh well.
Anyway, let's continue on from the open-house at the school to the reunion dinner that was held that night.
At $14 per person, the dinner was a bit on the pricey side. With herself, her husband, and three kids, going to the dinner was pretty much right out for my sister Kim, though she realized afterwards that she should have bought a space for herself anyway, since Dean and the kids would have been able to keep themselves busy, and, in fact, did keep themselves busy (they went fishing).
The food was decent, but there a too-long delay in actually getting it.
For a variety of reasons my family isn't exactly the most popular one in town (It's mostly because my parents quit drinking over 30 years ago, but also because my mom is an "outsider," even though she's lived there for over 40 years. Have I ever mentioned that insular little small towns suck?), so nobody wanted to sit by us. Ultimately, a cousin of my dad's sat by us along with her "friend."
Anyway, on to the pictures...

The dinner took place at the John S. Peterson Recreation Building, or as it's known locally, simply "The Building."
It's basically a community center available for events such as this one. I actually had my wedding reception there, as did my sister Kim.
When not being used for events, it's available for the area kids. In the winter they flood it and make it into an ice rink. In the warmer months (all three of them) it's used for roller skating and basketball.
Below the sign is the "Honor Roll," a roster of locals who served in World War II and Korea. This used to be located in front of the school, and was, in fact, one of the missing landmarks on the map to the time capsule.
It was my dad's idea to have it named after John Peterson, a local guy who, prior to his death, served as the caretaker for the place and supervised us kids.
The building is adjacent to the Drinking....I mean, Fire Department...

...Which can be seen here at the front of the building. My dad was on the Fire Department until shortly after he quit drinking. Given that the sole purpose of the Department was to get together and tie one on, it didn't really seem like a worthwhile use of his time after he got on the wagon.

This sign is set up in front of the Fire Department to be read from the highway. I mostly took it for Duddy's sake, as I thought he'd be interested in seeing that there's a fire company using equipment that's older than I am.

Anyway, back to the dinner. As you can see, it wasn't exactly a young crowd. Not a looker in the bunch.
(Actually, there was a chick there from the Governor's office who was kind of cute, as well as this other young girl who was very cute, but whom I couldn't look at because I remember her from when she was like five years old and I had already gone through puberty, so that's just creepy. Also, there was a girl who was a grade ahead of me who has aged but still looks pretty good. Back in the day she was the hottest girl in the school. She was the first girl I ever...well, to distill it to its essence, the first girl I ever wanted to bang. She was also the first girl to completely and utterly reject me and actually be disgusted by my interest in her, setting up an attraction/revulsion pattern that would go on to repeat itself in my life for decades, a pattern that continues to this day. So basically she was the girl who wrecked my self-esteem and destroyed my chances at ever relating to women in a fashion even remotely resembling "normal." But like I said, she still looked pretty good, though I didn't get any good pictures of her.)
On the age front, my great-uncle Toivo, at 94, is the oldest living graduate of the school. There was some talk about him being at the dinner, but it was all talk, as no one brought him. Apparently it never occurred to the people organizing the event to actually ask one of Toivo's relatives, namely my dad, to bring him there.
On my flight out of Michigan I was sitting behind the oldest living graduate to show up at the reunion. He's 90, and is also my dad's godfather.

It's a good thing that Maddox wasn't there to critique the placemats, which were obviously decorated by the current students. At least I hope they were.
(Speaking of Maddox, I bought his book The alphabet of Manliness to read on the flight. Good stuff.)

And here's my mom and dad. Tuesday marked their 47th anniversary. Not bad for two people who met on a blind date.
On Friday my dad was interviewed by some people who were making a documentary about the school. My dad's hearing isn't great and the guy asking his questions was wearing headphones so he didn't realize that he was speaking too quietly for my dad to hear, so my dad basically just told stories rather than trying to figure out what the questions were. I'm curious to see what the final product will be like.
Apparently out of all of the people they talked to the filmmakers enjoyed talking to my dad the most, though, so his answers must have been entertaining at least.

And that pretty much does it for the school reunion-related stuff.
After dinner they had some of the school's former Principals who were present get up to talk.
The last one was a local girl who'd gone to the school and eventually gone back to be the Principal for a few years, which is about how long it felt like she talked. The three other people who spoke combined didn't go on as long as she did.
More than the length of her speech, though, I was offended by the self-congratulatory tone of it as she talked about her family's history with the school.
She pointed out that four generations of her family had been "involved" with the school, starting with her grandfather who was on the Board, and her dad who attended it, followed by all of his children and at least one of his grandchildren.
Sure, that might seem impressive, but my family has equally strong ties, if not stronger. After all, my family's history starts with my grandfather attending the school, followed by all of his children, followed by me and all of my siblings, and my niece Jourdan who completed Kindergarten there.
And, as mentioned, my mother was on the Board for years and served as President.
There's an anecdote that illustrates my family's ties to the school perfectly.
Years ago the school had a bell tower (which is now long gone). One day my brother Stuart climbed up to the top of it and was going to carve his initials to mark the accomplishment, only to find that our dad's initials were already there. After relating the story to our parents when he got home, my dad went on to say that when climbed to the top years before, he found his dad's initials there.
But beyond my family's connection, you could have thrown a rock in that room and have been likely to hit someone who had ties to the school that were just as strong or stronger.
Still, in her confused and pompous rambling, she did raise an interesting point.
She said that among the many valuable skills that students pick up in the school's rather unique environment is conflict resolution.
After all, as she said, in our day you started out knowing that you were going to be there day-in, day-out with the same people for nine years, and you had to learn to resolve conflicts or else you were going to be in for a pretty miserable nine years.
I went with the latter option.

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