An Experience Like No other

We all seem to expect the common. We seem so positioned that nothing can surprise us. We have become so complacent that nothing astounds us. I held this view until the evening of Friday, September 27th, 2019.

The 50th reunion of the Frankford High Class of 1969 school kids took place in Warminister, Pennsylvania on that date.

My Frankford High School years.  How could I forget? Teachers’ have seen the look of a child face when he realizes the answer to a problem.  That child’s face was our own that evening. We were all baffled by the speed of life.  Indeed we hurdled that bar.

One reaction was, “Dear Lord, we are getting old.” Another would be, “It may be better TO call OUR LIVES a success and move to Florida.” A further thought would be to retire that eager beaver desire to become a “success”. We all wanted to “do well”. We all dreamed of going back to the old neighborhood,
straighten our three piece Italian suit, perfecting that knot in the tie and proudly announcing to mom and dad, “look at me I am a success”

That great post war effort no longer seems relevant. The ambition to “make it” seems as out of date as a 1969 Oldsmobile. We have realized that meaningful success is not measured on how well we have achieved financially or how well we have acquired materially but how much we gave. True assets are the spiritual ones of generosity, compassion, sharing and kindness. These are the contributions we will
pass on to future generations.

Our “alumni kids” told me of their compassion. Some started a foundation for disabled children, for the homeless, for disabled veterans. They have started scholarships for the less advantaged. They have become teachers, doctors lawyers and motivational speakers. Students who were athletic became coaches and yes, health teachers.  They contributed their time in fostering student growth and assisted in promoting healthy relationships.

Reuniting with this 1969 crew was a blessing. I knew these kids when they were shopping for Clearasil. Today we look for soap which promises a more youth appearance. Yes, we have all aged, but we have gotten better. Those juvenile hang ups of putting someone down in order to feel better about ourselves seems something out of an “I Love Lucy” script. Reminiscing with this squad I could not help hearing Hy Lit or Joe Niagria announcing a new release. Who turned on the frequency for Wibbage? Friday’s night game could have reviled “The Dating Game”, “The Newlyweed Game”or “Supermarket Sweep”. We should call it “ The Alumni Game.

The object was to remember someone face and name without glancing at their 1969 graduation photograph. It was also not to react to their seasoned appearance. Congenial responses were as follows:
“Oh yes, I remember you. You were on the Frankford Highway” “ Oh you were dating so and so
Have you heard from so and so recently?” “ I remember you from Edmunds. What did you think of our teachers?” “Oh yes, you were on the ping pong team. No, I played varsity football! You fool!
“Oh yes, sorry Yes, I recall you made that winning touchdown at the Thanksgiving Game against North Catholic. Weren’t you the player who got confused, went in the wrong direction and scored the winning point for North Catholic?” “Oh sure, I remember you. Didn’t you belong to a club called “Ye Spooks”.
“Absolutely no! I would never belong to a club with that kind of name! If you ever repeat something thing like that I will sue!

Some things should never be brought up. Some topics should be left in “The Land of the Forgotten”
The kids should of had a weekend retreat with free beer. Who has the medical Marijuana card? Their was too much to catch up on! We could not recall 50 years of life in four hours!

I wondered about the others who did not attend. Those with the poor grades. Those who felt they did not achieve in their careers. Those who could not get along with people. The loners who felt the world was against them. Those who felt too important to attend. Those who felt a reunion was not important
and wanted to keep that part of their lives compartmentalized.

I have heard Frankford High is not the school it used to be. Nothing ever is! We see inner city hopelessness, high crime, and crumbling neighborhoods. Low expectations seem to be the norm.
Their used to be a large display cabinet in the Frankford Hallway. I recall this was next to the auditorium. It showcased photographs of those Frankford students who were accepted to university. This was their first stop on their way to the Rainbow Land called “The American Dream”.

That cabinet has now been downsized to one the size of a suitcase. Too many of today’s Frankfordites are not meeting their potential. Too many teachers’ cannot relate their educational material into
practical everyday needs. But I am confident that a new and dynamic educational curriculum will be forged!

Our class has had a remarkable run. We had many challenges that, at the time, seemed insurmountable. We had the unpopular Vietnam War, political corruption, bad economy, racism, sexism, family breakdown,  political assassination, and general political disillusionment and America’s role in the world. But we did succeed! Not individually. but collectively!

Students need hands on, real world educational experience which utilize their talents and interests. This energy must be channeled into the actual needs of our occupational workplace!
“Students are wise, they can detect a teacher who does not care! I am confident that future Frankford High graduates will return to the old neighborhood wearing their three piece Italian suit, fix that knot in their tie, and at the door of their childhood home, proudly announce. “Look at me mom and dad. I am a success!”