New "Old Friends"
by Tommy Towery
A reunion is defined as a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation. Having studied that meaning, I concluded we did meet the definition with our get together last weekend. Our regular interval has been every five years based upon the graduation rate of the Lee High School Class of 1965.
For the next few weeks the primary topic of the Traveller will be stories associated with this reunion and I will try to solicit some stories from you readers to do so.
This week, I decided to write about getting together with two classmates I never expected to spend as much time with as I did. Those two people are Mike Cortright, LHS '65, and David Bess, LHS '64. I will begin with Mike, since chronologically our meeting came before the one I had with David.
This is where the strange thing about reunions takes a weird turn. At our earlier reunions I spent most of my time visiting with my dear friends from my days at Lee. These were the special ones with whom I walked the halls and journeyed between Jerry's and Shoney's every weekend. Because I have been living away from Huntsville since the day after graduation, I did not get many opportunities to stay in touch with many of them. So, my reunion time was dominated with just trying to stay friends with my old friends, and little time was devoted to getting to know others and making new friends. A couple of reunions ago my activities changed. After losing many of my old friends, and having some which were still around but electing not to attend the reunions, I had to find others with whom to associate. I found myself spending more time getting to better know some former classmates I knew by name or by class-association, but who I would have to stretch to call my “friends.” Among those are Rainer Klauss, John Drummond and Linda Taylor, along with Glenn James, Niles Prestage, and so many more I cannot list them all.
This reunion, Mike Cortright’s name was added to this group of individuals. As things were winding down Friday night I found myself in a deep conversation with him about the paths we took after high school. He wanted to know when and why I decided I wanted a military career, and in turn I listened to why he elected not to do so. We talked about stories in the Traveller, where we had lived since graduation, and our families. We found ourselves two of the last to stay up that night and when I looked at my watch, we had spent over an hour and a half just talking and getting to know each other. I knew little about Mike when we attended Lee. I knew he was an athlete and he said he knew I was “very popular” in school. That was a shock to me. I never once considered myself as very popular. I felt I fit in with the groups in which I associated, but never thought anyone outside of my interest groups even knew who I was. Before we said goodnight, Mike was inviting me to visit him next time I made it out to the San Juan Islands and I was plotting how I could do it.
David Bess and I did know each other when we were at Lee. As a matter of fact, we spent a whole lot of time together, and yet until recently we were both unaware of just how close we had been. At past reunions we probably didn't spent over a couple of minutes speaking to each other. Over the years we had never thought about our connected past and really did not consider ourselves close friends. It was only after David read an article in a previous issue of the Traveller and read a section in one of my books did we put all the pieces back together. David and I had both been in the Boy Scouts and in an elite group of campers known as The Order of the Arrow. We both were on the dance team which specialized in Native American dances and attended several regional dance competitions together. David dug up and brought with him a tackle box of old Scout patches to show me and we spent a long period Saturday night, not dancing, but instead talking about the dancing we did in our past. We looked at the patches and compared stories about the events commemorated by each one and what we remembered about earning them. We also found we faced the same dilemma of what to do with the treasures of our past as we age. To each of us they are much too valuable to just give away to Goodwill, but where would we find an honorable site to donate them? We ended the evening with vows to pursue the answer to that problem.
Over the next few weeks, as stated, I will add some additional stories to these two. I have several about old friends and new ones as well. All in all, it was a wonderful time and I cherish the opportunity to not only visit with the old friends, but also to make new ones from former acquaintances.
I would love to have any of you who made new friends or reacquainted with old ones to send me your own stories to share.
Memphis, TN - For those of you who wanted the digital version of the directory, you can get it from the link below. Thanks to all of you who took the time to thank me for the time I spent working on the Traveller each week. I was a little surprised at the number of non-Lee spouses who were among those who read the Traveller regularly and expressed their thanks.
As might be expected, the reunion will be the main topic for several issues.
The 2015 Reunion Directory
In spite of previous announcements, several classmates thought they would be able to purchase a printed copy of the reunion directory on the night of the reunion. Since only the number of copies ordered were printed no additional copies were available. The committee is now considering another printing if there is enough demand to do so. They are also wanting to make any corrections necessary to the information it contains.
Send corrections to:
Susan Simms, LHS, Class of ‘65
If you do not want a printed copy you can get a free download of a PDF copy of the directory by clicking on the link below. You can then print out your own copy if you wish.
Growing Older Responses
submitted by Niles Prestage
It hardly seems like it could be a week ago that we were beginning to crank it up for Reunion 2015. Everyone seems to still be enjoying the "afterglow" far more than I can ever remember, but that's a good thing!
The thought occurred to me that you might need the "growing older" responses that we said that we would follow up in the Traveller, so over the next few weeks we will share them with our classmates.
Linda Kinkle Cianci
"What are the greatest challenges of growing older?"
1. Recognizing and living out our current roles within the family – as encouragers, mentors, role models, and friends. Resisting the urge to take back that "parenting baton" which is now in the hands of our adult sons as they raise their own children; empowering and encouraging them as they walk out the life for which we prepared them – Lead the family and Follow Jesus Christ.
2. Who is that person in the mirror? It can’t be me!
"What are the benefits of growing older?"
I like that you say growing "older" and not "old."
1. Freedom to control my schedule, rather than my schedule controlling me.
2. Being playmates again – with the grandchildren.
Judy Bills Tate
I would like to add my sincere thanks to Glenn and Rose Marie James and the entire reunion committee members and their spouses for all of the long hours spent and your hard work to make this this best ever reunion! You all should be proud! Carolyn Featheringill, thank you for providing our wonderful decorations. Susan Simms, you did a great job on our Reunion Directories! Niles Prestage, you did a great job handling the program, and a thank you to our speakers. Jim McBride, thank you for singing for us and especially for the Reunion song. You were great! Tommy Towery, thank you for your tribute to our classmates who are no longer with us and thank you for keeping us connected with your weekly newsletter! Don Stroud, the band was great! Sarajane Steigerwald Tarter, I am glad you thought of the flashmob dance with the Happy Dancers! It was fun being part of it! To my classmates and friends, I feel honored to have grown up with such great people in Huntsville. I look forward to the 2020 reunion! As others have said, this reunion will not be forgotten! We had a blast!!