A fine word, I think. Reunion. Suggesting joy, comfort, harmony. And I’ve Greenport High School to thank for my thoughts. Graduates of the school are planning an all-class reunion for just a few weeks from now. Sounds like fun and if I were a graduate of GHS you can bet I’d be there.
But GHS is not my alma mater, so the best I can do is dream of reunions of all kinds. I think I’d start not with my high school but with my grade school in Queens. I’d go back to the school and see little desks with real inkwells. And not a computer in sight. I’d meet Kevin P., who wore knickers, and Don G. Wow, did I like that guy! Then there was Anita P., who was self-proclaimed president of a very special group — the Phil Rizzuto Fan Club. Move over, Derek Jeter.
At that time, the 1940s, the school had no gym. But we did jump rope in the school yard and I was pretty good. I’d like to see my classmates jumping rope now.
How about a reunion with our old neighborhoods? I’d enjoy reuniting with Mr. Ed B. He drove a great big red-and-black Boar’s Head truck. Good eating then and now. And Mrs. Kathleen S. She was the only woman I knew who drove a car, so she was special. That neighborhood had a lake for ice skating, a hilly golf course for sleigh riding and a little store where you could get an ice cream cone for five cents. Chocolate sprinkles were free.
Can you imagine a reunion with one of your earliest jobs? For me, it was in the Great Neck library. Sometimes I was at the main desk checking out books. That made me feel important. Other times I was in the workroom, pasting on labels or filing in the card catalog. Remember those cabinets with all the little drawers? Pull one out and who knew what you’d find on all those catalog cards. All that’s gone now — and that’s why a reunion would be so meaningful.
And I’d like to reunite with Barney, a maintenance guy at the library. A big guy, of few words, he made tea for us every afternoon. We’d have some cookies with Barney’s tea and have a fine break.
You know how it is when you return to the North Fork after a few weeks away? Reunion. Your road, your friends, your own bed. The same place for coffee in the morning, the same beaches to stroll. That’s reunion and it’s good. So too, I suppose, would be reunion with distant places we’ve known and loved. For me an Adirondack lake, a farm in Kentucky, a small town in Colorado. That’s a reunion dream.
Then there are little reunions — reunions with food and books, for example. One of my grandmothers served up a casserole of baked beans and a rice pudding dessert I’d like to go back to. My other grandma gave us noodle soup and lemon pie. How I loved that pie.
I had an Aunt Grace who prepared an orange gelatin salad that was pretty awful. But I’d happily reunite with that sad salad if only to hug that beloved aunt.
Books? There are several I’d have reunions with. One is Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country.” Yes, the story and setting make good reading but a character, the Rev. Stephen Kumalo, has inspired me for a long, long time. And a few years ago I reunited with Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” Funny, it was not the same book I read in high school. But then, I’m not the same person.
If you are fortunate enough to be a GHS graduate, give a call to Tom Krumenacker at 561-844-8888. He’s the guy with all the details. Good luck, Greenport High School, with your all-class reunion. July 19 will be a special day for so many people, people who bring together the past and the present, easing us to the future with gladdened hearts.
Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.