My home town of Calistoga only had about 1,100 residents total when I was a child. And that included those who lived in trailer homes and sometimes moved. Because of the timing of our births this tiny town quickly ran out of parents: a whole load of us were the initial wave of Baby Boomers; and we grew up playing with the entire generation of siblings, not just the one in our class.
It makes sense that we have periodic All Class Reunions from anyone who had ever graduated from Calistoga High School, or attended our schools. Now it's anyone who was a childhood friend from The City. That's what we called San Francisco in the '50s.
This year's reunion was special as invites also were extended to all those "City Kids" who used to spend summers in our town. They came in droves that first Saturday after school got out, and we Calistoga kids were waiting in the gutters at the intersection of Highway 128 and Main Street.
Stationwagons arriving from San Francisco slammed on the brakes and dumped their children out, and went on. We formed a gang and took off for the swimming pools, the park, or places unknown and showed up at somebody's house when it was time to eat. We were always fed.
In recent years, certain of the City Kids had been invited to gate crash but now they got invites, and some brought their parents with them. Imagine a reunion ranging from near centurions through the most recent graduates of 2011.
(Tsk. I hope I didn't spell that like those half goat people of Greek myths..or were gladiators called centurions? confusing.)
It was really the ten year reunion that made our class realize we really missed each other. I like to think that our young grads will come in the future: first with boy/ girl friends, then with spouses, then little ones, and then with their dogs and/or new spouses. Suddenly the little ones are big kids, and suddenly there are no kids or maybe grandkids; and perhaps like us they will bring their parents too. I stop now.
The 2011 All Class Reunion formally started at 2 pm Saturday with drinks and milling around, visiting, telling stories, telling lies, laughing, back slaps - all our crazy hominoid behaviors. They say just over 300 former students of Calistoga High School showed up and there was just barely enough time to chat with my personal A list and some of my B list. I lied. I don't have a B list - there's not enough people to make one. LOL and smiley-face.
A wonderful meal was dished up; we did some more milling around and not so much drinking then a few yawns, some sore feet and backs....So it broke up around eleven thirty or midnight.
My friends and I took an evening stroll through our little home town, even though we'd done it the night before. I just wish I could do it again tonight. Tonight and every night! A stroll every summer evening, remembering and laughing and sharing and wanting to shout out "I am so lucky!"
Night time strolls of long ago, sometimes called promanades in other countries, as the night brings a soft cool breeze and heat exhaustion suddenly evaporates, and the sounds of crickets and frogs makes you say Yes! I am a part of Nature, not simply subject to Nature!
Calistoga's summer-night air is sweet with jasmine and roses and maybe plumaria here and there...unless you are walking on Main Street (they call it Lincoln Avenue on maps.) Main Street at that hour smells more like booze. I remember when it smelled like booze and cigarettes. Some things have changed for the better.
Our Mid-Century parents strolled neighborhood streets, stopping and visiting on porches, relishing the night coolness with a glass of lemonade or a beer. And we kids played Kick the Can, Tag, and Hide 'n' Seek right in the middle of streets; as well as in the backyards of many tolerant neighbors. Not a lot of homes had a fence around their property, so exhausted kids crashed on any old body's lawn to rest up, telling jokes and sharing dreams, or just looking at the sky. No one ran us off their lawns because we were bending their precious blades of grass, and our sweaty little bodies itched with rashes from prickly grass. If we did get rowdy the neighbors might help us leave their property with a full-blast hose. Or if we were on some old people's land they would started hollering at us. "YouDarnKidsGoOnHomeFerGodsSake!"
It is said this year that one of the bars had an Elvis Impersonator. I'm not too sure if this means Calistoga is still stuck in time; if we've "gone Vegas" or if Vegas is stuck in time.
Anyway our personal midnight blue velvet sky still rested above our valley, settling ever so gently on the mountain peaks, and those stars still dangled just out of my reach. Crickets and bullfrogs chirped and burped in the distance, and the sound of far off conversations and soft laughter floated by. These are the parts that can never change: mountains, sky, stars, creatures, laughter. Calistoga remains.
This is Life being lived and loved, at it's sweetest and fullest: with people, with memories, with comfort and kindness and love.
You know, someone once said you can never go home.
Poor him: maybe he should come to one of our All Class Reunions?