Tag Archives: Parkrose High School

Name tags: cure for embarrassment

PORTLAND, Ore. — Thank goodness for name tags.

They saved my backside while my wife and I attended my 50-year high school reunion. I had feared walking into a roomful of individuals I hadn’t seen in a few decades. I was prepared to deal with the consequences that time has brought to human beings over a 50-year span of time.

I did discover a couple of things about my classmates. One is that a surprising number of them remain quite recognizable. Another is that they — and I, for that matter — are pretty good at shooting quick-hit glances at name tags before greeting each other.

I found myself relying somewhat on name tags — which contained pictures from our 1967 Parkrose High School yearbook.

The event was far more enjoyable than I expected, which demonstrated the wisdom of setting the bar low and then being pleasantly surprised at the positive result.

I made up a throwaway line for those who wondered where I live these days. “I live in Amarillo, Texas,” I would say, “but my wife and I came all the way here for this reunion — and just to see you.”

Here, though, is my major takeaway from the 50-year reunion. It is that I am giving some preliminary thought to attending the 60-year event when it rolls around.

One of the women of my class, Karen is her name, mentioned attending No. 60, presuming she’s still alive. Indeed, time has that way of reminding us of our mortality.

If I am still on this side of the grass in 2027 and am in reasonably good health — and still have my wits — I’ll likely be there.

It is weird in the extreme to have these thoughts after how I felt coming out of the previous reunion two decades ago.

I’ll have to remind the event planners, however, to be sure to print the name tags. We’ll need ’em even more the next time.

Reunion No. 50: much better, thank you

PORTLAND, Ore. — I owe one of my sons a debt of thanks for steering me this direction, at this time, to attend a particular event.

I have regaled (or bored) you already with my tale of woe regarding my 30-year high school reunion. I had some serious trepidation about coming to the 50-year event. My son talked me into going.

I’m glad he did.

Yes, the event exceeded my expectation. Who knew? Perhaps it was because I set the bar so low that it was next to impossible to not clear it with ease. It was quite  unlike No. 30, for which I set an impossibly high bar; there was no way to meet the expectation I had set for that one.

And wouldn’t you know it, as I gravitated around the room schmoozing, back-slapping the guys, hugging the girls and getting caught up, I heard from three — maybe four — of my Parkrose High School classmates that they thought No. 30 was a downer, too.

Imagine that, will ya?

My son had advised me that this one would be better because his mother — my wife — would be there with me. She had a good time, too. She met some of my classmates, a couple of whom shared stories about me back in The Day that bore a semblance of truth, although one of my old runnin’ buddies seemed to embellish his recollection more than just a little.

My best friend from high school, Dennis — along with his wife, Linda — attended the event, which all by itself made it worth the trip from Texas. Dennis’s friendship is the longest sustained relationship I have with anyone on Earth who is not a member of my family; we go back 55 years, to the seventh grade.

My biggest takeaway is this: The 110 or so classmates who attended seemed to go out of their way to circulate and to talk to those they might not have known all that well in the old days. My comfort level was enhanced many times over what I felt two decades ago when I ventured here from Portland to attend the high school reunion I swore would be the last one I’d ever attend.

Silly me. I must have forgotten how time has this way of making most of us grow up.

I am glad I came.

This reunion thing can get maddening

I am blessed beyond measure with wisdom that comes from members of my immediate family.

My frame of reference is my wife and my two sons.

One of them offered me a bit of wisdom this weekend that is giving me serious pause about whether I should attend a reunion of my high school graduating class.

It’s the 50-year reunion that is coming up in October. I had leaned against attending. As of this moment, I’m back on the fence. Totally neutral. I have indicated to close friends that I could be “talked into” going.

My wife and I attended my 10-year reunion in 1977; I flew back for my 30-year reunion in 1997 — and I hated almost every minute of it. I vowed then I wouldn’t return for any subsequent reunions. The 40-year reunion occurred without me. I had no regrets about staying away.

But then my son and I had a conversation this weekend that went something like this:

Me: You know, of course, that I am thinking about whether I want to go to my 50-year high school reunion.

Son: Yes, I know. I also know that you aren’t too keen on going.

Me: That’s right.

Son: Let me offer this bit of advice. You said your 30-year reunion was a bummer, that you hated it. I think the reason was that you went alone. Mom wasn’t there. You also set the bar too high. Why not just go this next reunion with Mom, see your friends, have a good time — and then go do whatever you want to do with Mom?

Do you see what I mean about wisdom? I’ve never told my sons that I was the knower of all knowledge. I’ve always had an open mind to whatever advice either of them — along with my wife — were willing to give me.

My wife and I now are retired. We purchased a fifth wheel recreational vehicle, which we tow behind a big ol’ pickup. Were we to go, we likely would haul our RV to Portland, Ore., where we both graduated from high school.

As I understand it, our Parkrose High School class of 1967 is planning a dinner in October at a hotel near Portland International Airport. We could attend the dinner, have some laughs, get caught up; my wife knows a couple of my classmates — one quite well, the other not nearly so.

Then we could say goodbye. Go back to our RV, visit some family and a few of our many other friends we have in the city of my birth.

Then we would be on our way to, oh, destinations to be determined.

I won’t set the bar too high. I won’t seek to rekindle relationships that I learned at the 30-year reunion did not exist in the first place.

Hmm. I am now thinking carefully about the wisdom I received from my son. That reunion is beginning to beckon — and I am beginning to pay attention.

I’ll keep you posted.

Reunion No. 50: The dilemma deepens

I just got word that the planners who are organizing the 50-year reunion of my high school graduating class have set a date and a location.

It will take place this October at a hotel near Portland (Ore.) International Airport. Ironically, it also will occur not terribly far from where my classmates and I graduated from Parkrose High School.

The old building was torn down years ago and was replaced by a shiny new structure that doubles as a community center.

My dilemma is deepening about whether to attend this event.

The 30-year high school reunion sucked for me. I went back to Portland seeking to rekindle relationships I had with some of the folks with whom I graduated. Much to my surprise — and chagrin — I found that there was nothing to rekindle. You can’t ignite something that doesn’t exist.

I vowed not to go back.

No. 40 came and went. Without me. I stayed true to my personal pact.

Now it’s No. 50 looming out there.

I cannot tell if my waffling means I want to go but I’m looking for reasons to stay away; or whether it means I don’t want to go but I’m seeking a reason to go.

Maybe I need to reset my expectation if I do return to this event.

I hate these dilemmas. I think I’ll pray for some discernment.

Rite of passage awaits — possibly

This is the latest in an occasional series of blog posts commenting on upcoming retirement.

A possible rite of passage associated with, um, growing older has just arrived in my e-mail inbox.

It involves a high school reunion advisory. No. 50 is on the horizon. Planning is underway, the message said; they want to update the information they — whoever they are — have on me.

Here’s the quandary: Do I go or do I stay away?

Why the conflict? I’ve attended two reunions of the Parkrose (Ore.) High School Class of 1967. One was the 10-year reunion in 1977; the other was the 30-year gathering in 1997.

The 30-year reunion was such a downer for me I made a pact upon departing Portland for Amarillo that I’d never return for another one. Why? Well, I made an unpleasant discovery at the 30-year reunion, which was that I didn’t have as many “friends” as I thought I did.

I had moved away from Portland in 1984 after starting my career in journalism. I had been married for more than dozen years at that point; my wife and I produced two sons, who at the time of the move were coming of age. We embarked on a new journey in Texas and more than three decades later, we look back on that journey and marvel at the things we’ve seen, done and experienced.

I got word of the 40-year reunion sometime in 2007, but opted to stay away for the reason I mentioned a moment ago. I didn’t care to go back to find something that I knew wasn’t there: a kinship, a reason to renew old relationships … because there was precious little on which to build such a renewal.

Twenty years have passed since that 30-year reunion. I am now in a totally different place. I am retired from that career. My wife and I have much more “free” time on our hands.

I mentioned to her this morning that I had gotten the e-mail advising me of the planning that was underway for the 50-year reunion. Her response? “We could take our fifth wheel back to Portland and we could attend your reunion — if that’s what you want to do.”

Great idea! We could plan a cross-continent excursion around such an event, see the sights we want to see, relax and enjoy the fellowship we would have with each other and with Toby the Puppy. Then we could show up at wherever they are having this reunion and I could shake a few hands, slap a few backs, perhaps get a hug or three from classmates and then we’d be on our way.

I’m going to ponder this some more. Even though we aren’t yet quite fully retired, the notion of adding this event to a busy travel schedule doesn’t sound quite as, oh, onerous as it did two decades ago after Reunion No. 30 had concluded.

Time has this way … you know?

Gun violence erupts yet again

The nation mourns another tragic loss of life because of gun violence.

This incident hits me hard. I grieve for the family and friends of Emilio Hoffman, the freshman student at Reynolds High School in suburban Portland, Ore.

As of this moment, I am grieving for the community that I know quite well.


I grew up just a few miles west of where the shooting occurred. I attended Parkrose High School, which essentially is the next school district over from the Reynolds district. This one scares the daylights out of me.

Enough of that, however.

The more important issue is going to center on the gun culture and whether that culture is overwhelming the majority opinion of Americans who insist that government do more to require stricter background checks on those who seek to possess guns.

That gun culture also is arguing that the way to curb gun violence is to put more guns in the hands of, say, public school educators. National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre said (in)famously that the best defense against “bad guys with guns is to put more guns in the hands of good guys.”

Emilio is dead, as is the shooter, who hasn’t yet been identified.

The gun culture is going to dig in, of course, against those who want stricter controls. Those who adhere to that culture will assert that current laws are strict enough, that the Constitution forbids any control over firearm possession and that the best way to fight this epidemic of school shootings is to put more guns in the hands of “good guys.”

The latest shooting suggests that laws aren’t strict enough. I suggest also that the Constitution does allow for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

To the argument that we put more guns out there in good guys’ hands? No … thank … you.

First things first. Let’s learn about this latest bad guy and how — in all that is holy — he was able to get his hands on a deadly weapon.