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Jack Zaleski, Published July 27 2013

Zaleski: Hard to believe 50 years have gone by

Baby boomers of a certain age (mine) will flock to 50th high school class reunions next year. My class of ’64 of New Britain, Conn.’s Pulaski High School hasn’t announced a formal reunion, but I suspect the graduates who live in and near the old hometown are planning something. But whether that happens or not, my small group of friends from that era will travel to Connecticut for what might be our last get-together.

The remarkable thing about “the group” is that we’ve stayed in touch since we went our separate ways after commencement ceremonies that June nearly half a century ago. The network that seemed frayed and tenuous as we embarked on new lives on college campuses in several states was to become stronger and more connected by spirit and memories than any of us realized.

All of them did well in their chosen fields. Among us are engineers, educators, medical professionals, business executives and owners, artists and designers, lawyers, high-tech gurus and even a journalist. Several are retired; others are still at it.

Some married and stayed that way. Others married two or three times, apparently trying to get it right. Several are grandparents, like me. Two of our friends are dead, both gone too soon.

Not one of the group lives in New Britain. They are scattered across the nation, from California to Massachusetts, from Alabama to North Dakota, from Virginia to Colorado. But when our network crackled with the possibility of a group reunion in our hometown, every one of them was enthusiastic. That’s how close we are, even if most of us haven’t seen the others for many years. Somehow, that collection of about a dozen (out of a class of nearly 300) clicked 50 years ago and still clicks today.

I’m guessing such a relationship among old high school friends is not unique to me and my group. But it is uniquely special to us because of the time that has passed and the distances that have separated us for such a long time. Other than a class reunion more than 25 years ago, we’ve not been together. And even at that event not all of us could be there.

So the gathering we are contemplating for next year will be heavy with meaning and bound by the enduring, if sometimes neglected, bonds of friendship. We’ll do a nostalgia tour of our old haunts. We’ll tell stories, share family photographs, and smile knowing smiles when we recall (as “The Fantasticks” signature song says) our “tender and callow” years.

And who knows, maybe we’ll begin planning for a 60th.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.