High School: 50 years and Counting.

I went to my “50th” high school reunion last evening. I graduated from Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield, NJ in 1970, so it was actually our 52nd anniversary. Since our 50th would have been in 2020 in the height of COVID, the reunion was obviously pushed back. Most of my classmates from the class of 1970 were born in 1952, and now have turned 70 earlier this year. I am a baby and won’t be 70 until next week (October 11), when I will celebrate by attending game 1 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium, a nice way to spend my birthday. But I had a wonderful time at this reunion, and I am surely glad I went.

Years ago, I remember attending our 10th (1980) and 20th (1990) reunions. While I had a decent time and saw several friends at those earlier reunions, I remember having mixed feelings about whether I should have gone at all. I have no such mixed feelings about having attended my 40th reunion in 2010, and my 50th last evening. It was great to see “old friends”, literally and figuratively.

Obviously, I too am now older, more mature, and wiser (hah) than in earlier reunions. I do have a greater sense of my own mortality, which makes me far more appreciative of seeing people from my past. Anyone who is 70 has unfortunately experienced the passing of a loved one/friend. That’s what aging is all about. It makes you appreciate your friends from years ago.

I did see a handful of close friends who I still talk to (can’t see them enough), others with whom I wish I had maintained relationships, and others yet with whom I had not been as friendly years ago. It was a great mix of roughly 50 people from our class of 250.

As with all reunions, it was sometimes hard to instantly recognize people. We all age in different ways. However, after just a minute or two a smile, smirk, mannerism gave away their identity (obviously name tags helped too).  Beyond the physical aging of all my classmates, what also struck me is how much life has changed since high school. There was a simplicity and naivety to life during the early 60s, which was shattered by President Kennedy’s assassination and the Vietnam war. Still, life was much simpler and growing up in a suburban town in New Jersey sheltered many of us from the world. That was both good and bad.

17 classmates (of roughly 250) have passed away since we graduated. I am not sure that 7% mortality is unusual for a group of people who were largely born in 1952. Sounds about average. And also some of us are widows and widowers (me included). Others have divorced or remarried. We’ve all experienced a lot. Obviously many of my classmates will no longer be with us at our 60th reunion, if one even happens. The life expectancy of a group of 70 year people is roughly 15 years, so the group will surely be smaller at our next reunion, if we have a 60th in 2030.

Most of all, the reunion made me appreciate my childhood and many friendships I had (and many I still have). There is no pretense with longtime friends. Old friends know too much about you.

As I look back at my childhood, I appreciate the lifelong friendships I made, and don’t take them for granted. I deeply appreciate my parents’ decision to move our family to Springfield, NJ in August 1962 when I was 9 before I entered 5th grade in the Chisholm elementary school. In September 1963 everyone from the then four elementary schools in Springfield attended Florence M. Gaudineer Junior High (now Middle School), and then Jonathon Dayton High School in 1966.

I’m very happy to have reconnected with my past again at the reunion. Maintaining relationships, particularly long-distance ones, high school or otherwise, takes work. However, the rewards far outweigh the effort. Thank you to those who organized the event and to all who attended. God willing, I hope to be at the 60th reunion.

More Strumings


  1. Ted says:

    Wonderful “strumming”. Greatly enjoyed the evening and look forward to seeing when you come up to CT

  2. Susan Kleiner says:

    Wow Lonny, I am impressed-when did you get to write this! Perfectly described out reunion last night. I’m so glad you were able to make it and wish you all the best with lots of health and happiness this year!

    Warm regards

    • Lonny Strum says:

      Thanks so much for your leadership in making the reunion happen. Everyone appreciates what you did. I wrote the piece last evening and enjoyed doing it. Wonderful to see everyone.

  3. Ronnie Krowne says:

    Lonny, you have a wonderful way with words! I capture life , as a photographer., with images. You captured it ALL with your words.
    You nailed it! . It truly had a magical quality to the experience. Wishing you, and all of us, good health as the years continue to roll on.. God be willing, we will be together again.

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