High School reunions mean different things to different people. For some, reconnecting with friends from their past is exciting, for others, the very idea sends shivers down their spines.
Not every reunion is the same, either. At ten years out most are still establishing their families, building their careers, waiting for life to begin. On the twentieth, accomplishments have been achieved and bragging rights become contests of one-upmanship.
But when the 50th reunion rolls around, as it did for me last weekend, all former topics fade. People are glad to see you, because your absence could mean—well, let’s not talk about that. Life stories, grandkid photos, trips taken, and the latest arthritis remedy fill the conversation. The atmosphere is more casual, the banter friendlier.
My class met at Belknap Hot Springs Resort on the McKenzie Highway north of Blue River, Oregon. The resort offered countless options—RV sites, private cabins, tent spaces, and rooms within the lodge. An open air concession stand sold burgers and wraps. A continental breakfast awaited those who were registered guests. The hot springs filled a full-sized pool open to the public, for a price, and also piped in water for the private pool available to guests only—complete with pool towels.
Four couples rented the largest cabin available. When I say cabin, I do so tongue-in-cheek. The dwelling was a two-story replica of a southern mansion, complete with columns lining the wrap-around porch. Getting there was a wilderness experience as we climbed a long, winding trail over a river, passed the hot springs on our ascent, paralleled a meandering creek, and arrived breathless to a crowd of noisy people. A rock bench circled the fire pit at the back beckoning us to join the party where chairs and tables had been set up for visiting and meals. Inside the cabin was an accessorized kitchen, a living area, and, of course, bedrooms upstairs. From here the reunion coordinator maintained a command central.
We talked, shared breakfast, lunch, and dinners, and swapped pictures, phone numbers, and memorabilia for two days. One classmate had made copies of all the senior pictures in the annual, arranging the faces on cards for a game of Bingo as memories from the past were matched to the pictures before us. Most could remember the faces, but the name of the person eluded them. It was fun trying. But, after fifty years apart, what could one expect?
Top from left: The McKenzie River bordered by planted flowers along a resort walkway. 2. A quiet pool in the woods.
Below, second row: 1. Bronze sculptures of days gone by when small bands would visit and provide evening music. 2. The totem pole boasts eagles on its branches and a pair of bears trying to climb.
Bottom: A quiet creek with small waterfalls runs to the river on the left.