While at the class reception last Saturday night, another classmate wrapped her arms around Nancy, who at age 68 looks much like her graduation photo. "I kept thinking who the heck are you?" Nancy said, unable to see the woman's nametag. It turned out it was Rita, her best friend since the seventh grade and all through high school. With bleached hair and a bit more weight on the bones of this once-skinny girl, it was a shock for Nancy to realize how much people can change over a 50-year time span.
Some hadn't changed all that much and a few who Nancy remembers having heavy builds were much thinner. Coach Hebert was recognized still as "coach" by everyone at the reunion, even though he's now in his late 80s. The Harringtons played golf with him Saturday and marveled at how the school's former football and golf coach is still a champion on the course, even after having both knees replaced two years ago.
Nancy identified David, the class president, only after he was introduced as the emcee at the Saturday night dinner and dance. A preacher's son who always seemed destined for seminary school, he now sports long gray hair, has trouble breathing and is about three times larger, working as a professional writer. Shannon, always a shy, too skinny coed at Douglas, is now much more outgoing and looking even better.
There were 450 members of the graduating Class of 1962 at Douglas High. A total of 132 showed up for their 50th reunion; 40 of those had served in the military, most of them in Vietnam; 30 have passed away. The others chose not to come for the reunion or couldn't be reached. Most of Nancy's classmates have since married; together they have 578 children, 620 grandchildren and 53 great-grandchildren, and many have left Oregon for other states.
As for the high school, David Douglas was once the largest high school in Oregon with 4,500 students when the baby boomers reached their teenage years. Since then, enrollment has dropped below 2,000.
The 50th reunion was the first for Nancy and likely the last for the class. Gary Harrington, who went along for the fun, graduated from a high school in Los Angeles but has more allegiance to UC Northridge, where he earned his degree.
Nancy also notes that the long drive to Portland, which many of us know is a bit tedious and tiring, can be more fun if you break it into stops for golf. They played three courses on the trip to Portland, another three on the trip back. Those games gave Nancy a break from trying to remember all those faces from 50 years ago.
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