50 – 1: My (Almost) 50th
High School Reunion

By

Leonard Zwelling

         In an effort to consolidate resources and increase
accessibility and participation via price control, the Wellington C. Mepham
High School classes of 1965 and 1966 held a joint reunion in Rockville Center,
Long Island, New York on August 15, 2015. Each class had about 60 attendees
representing perhaps only 10% of each graduating class. Since I graduated in
1966, I was going to my 49th high school reunion, not my 50th,
but close enough.

         As I sat in open-eyed meditation with a loud band playing
oldies and oldies playing the music, I drifted to what had happened earlier in
the week. We had arrived in New York on Wednesday and took in a few shows and
shopping before meeting my two closest friends from high school with their
wives for dinner and a show Friday evening.

         Epiphany #1: At the dinner table Friday night were seated 6
adults in 3 marriages that totaled almost 130 years. Amazing given the divorce
rate among those I have known over my life since high school. The dinner was
smashing and the show even more so (An
American in Paris
—can’t beat Gershwin).

         The following day one of the couples picked us up at our
hotel in midtown and we had a lovely lunch at the Café Boulud on 76th
and Madison. We had eaten there before and it is always great. Saturday was no
exception.

We
climbed into the car and headed west through the Queens Midtown Tunnel to Long
Island, the fish-shaped appendage that embodies the boroughs of Queens and
Brooklyn as well as Nassau and Suffolk Counties. We were raised in North
Bellmore in Nassau.

Epiphany
#2: My buddy Ken can navigate like a guide dog. We wove through our previous neighborhoods where we visited the sites of our old houses and those of our
friends as well as the three schools we had attended together. We got out at
Mepham itself so that I could touch the flagpole I write about in my book. It
was the one on which the flag was lowered on the afternoon of November 22,
1963.

We
returned to the hotel where we were staying and where the festivities were to
be held. By a bit after 7 we made our entrances at the party and were greeted
with that loud band playing rock classics and some classics who were our classmates
49 years before.

Epiphany
#3: Your life doesn’t flash by you when you are about to die. It does at your
high school reunion.

So
as I did my sitting meditation among the clamor of some good, old friends to
the sound of good, old music I had only one emotion.

Epiphany
#4: You’re going to die. On a small table in a corner were the high school
portraits of about 40 of our classmates, fully two-thirds of the number
attending the reunion. They had died. The demise of some on the board was
unknown to me and that was very upsetting.

That
one emotion I had in my inner peace was
extreme gratitude. I could have been on the board of the 40—several times.
Doctors prevented that. Not administrators or study coordinators, doctors.

As
my friend and fellow Dukie, with his own history of encounters with the medical
system, basketball standout Ken Dennard always says, “every day above ground is
a good day.”

Some
people asked me if I saw much of North Bellmore that day when we drove around.

“Everything
I want to see in North Bellmore is in this room right now.”

And
I meant it.

For Barbara Marklin Barnett—a great
planner of reunions!

Leonard Zwelling