Updated: February 15, 2013 5:24PM
Awhile back, a co-worker wrote a column about skipping his high school reunion.
With Facebook and other social media you can find out what your classmates are up to, he reasoned, so the need for an in-person get-together wasn’t there. I was shocked.
Yet it turns out he’s not alone. While social media has made class reunions easier to organize, the schoolmate get-togethers are down, particularly for the 10-year reunion, different news stories report.
This amazes me. I have spent much of my adult life hoping I’d see the kids from the Class of 1972 from Bowen High School on the Southeast Side again. Now that we’re going to have a reunion, I can hardly wait.
Maybe we all think our class is special, but I am pretty sure ours was, given the times. In looking at the photos from last summer’s reunion of the class before us, it’s pretty obvious those students were largely white and Jewish. By the time the class behind us was wearing caps and gowns, the student body was predominately African American and Latino.
But for a brief moment in time at Bowen High School, true diversity roamed its halls, and our class is proof. I don’t know if the numbers would substantiate it, but it seemed as though blacks, Latinos and whites each made up about one-third of our class. Everywhere — classrooms, sports, school activities — we were a mix of all three. You couldn’t spend that much time together without forming bonds with people different from yourself. You can’t leave a place like that without knowing diversity is a beautiful thing.
The best part of me developed in those years. It certainly was where my desire to be a journalist was cemented, right there in the Bowen Arrow office and Phyllis Schwartz’s wonderful class.
Back then I didn’t dwell on the turmoil that was happening not just in our country, but right in our neighborhood. Yet it was there. The Vietnam War was sending neighborhood boys home in coffins. Real estate agents were calling parents, trying to scare them into leaving because the area was “changing.”
But within the halls of Bowen High School, we were insulated from that and having a great time, not thinking about differences between us.
By the time I came home from college, things had changed. Everyone, it seemed, had moved away, and I had no idea where. For years, when I’d go to River Oaks shopping mall, I’d search for faces in the crowd as I walked, hoping to find someone, anyone, from the Class of 1972. Never did.
So I can’t describe the joy I felt when the letter I wrote, hoping it would get to my Bowen locker partner, Floretta, did. I got home from work one night last week and there was her familiar voice on my answering machine.
We talked a good while and she’s as psyched about our September reunion as I am. So are others. Martha’s coming from Michigan, Pat from Nashville. Raydella’s returning from California. So is David. I’m gonna find Jose in Arizona and get him here if it kills me.
Maybe because we’re older, we’re more excited about seeing our classmates. Maybe it’s because Bowen at that time was a special place. Maybe it’s a little of both.
If you’re from Bowen’s Class of 1972, visit www.Bowen1972.com.