Adieu and Fare Thee Well

The reunion is over. All Ninety-two revelers – members of the Saranac Lake High School and St. Pius X Classes of 1965 and their companions – who gathered for a weekend of reminiscence and re-acquaintance, have said goodbye and have gone back to whatever they were doing before. But we are changed, strengthened by the experience.

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The Voices and the Laughter. Photo by Olivia Rauss

It was a funny scene to watch ourselves when we first arrived. There were no prompts, no pictures of our former selves dangling from our necks, so we had to look into one another’s eyes, watch for gestures, listen carefully for vocal patterns to identify who was who and where we fit together. But once we did, oh how tightly we cleaved!

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John Pedroni, Robert Waite and Irene Walker sidle back to 1965 in song. Photo by Olivia Rauss.

We are a remarkable group. Un-clique-ish, without isolationist tendencies, we bonded to one another for the three days we visited – Thursday night dinner in a restaurant that was nonexistent when we lived there, Friday night dancing at the Moose Hall, Saturday morning gathering at our high school no longer a high school for a tour and a video journey through our town, Saturday afternoon attendance at the homecoming football game, and Saturday night feasting and blending our voices with the karaoke in songs we sang as youngsters. It was glorious.

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St. Pius X and SLHS Cheerleaders. Photo by Olivia Rauss.

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Sharing a special remembrance of a gone but not forgotten classmate with the children he left behind. . . . Photo by Olivia Rauss

But it was just a reunion, nothing really extraordinary about that. Classes gather every year to do what we did in Saranac Lake last weekend. So why do we think we’re so special?

Every time we got quiet, someone would comment on the thing about us that is remarkable. Here we were, fifty years later, a single town of kids whose elders sought to keep us apart for whatever reasons they could conjure by dividing us into two high schools, and despite the fact that we didn’t grow up dancing with one another, playing football on one another’s teams, playing or singing music together, here we were in our dotage clinging to one another.

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The Planning Committee. Photo by Olivia Rauss

Standing at the dais, co-emceeing the event, I looked around the room, and I could not see a single table segregated by school. Somehow, past the separation, past our years apart, we have become a family, and when we re-convene, when we come together to celebrate our past and lean in against our diminishing future, we do it as a single entity. We are a family of a sort.

I don’t know many schools whose members return to the kind of communion we share. Most people speak of having been with the people they were friends with in school, of being just as isolated from the rest as they felt as teenagers. But we hale and hearty children of Saranac Lake, at least those of us in the Class of ’65, are cut from a special cloth that binds us together with emotional Velcro.

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Old Friends, Final Breakfast of the Reunion. Photo by Olivia Rauss.

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Sisters. Photo by Olivia Rauss.

What gratitude I have for being part of that little universe. What immeasurable joy I take in being one of them, despite the enormous feeling of disconnect I wrapped myself in as a teenager. I am so glad I lived long enough to shed that mantle and accept this new one, the cloak of my classmates’ love.

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