It is rather difficult to explain the group phenomenon that I am a part of, a fond passion for Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. We just celebrated the sixth get-together and it was great to see old friends and fondly miss those that could not attend for a myriad of reasons. The reunion is for any graduate or past student that went there. I am among a very small group that has attended every one of the reunions and I am pleased with that fact. I also created my own nametag for the reunion with my graduation picture and my name, because as I like to say “no one knew me in school, and no one knows me now,” as I say that with a sparkle in my voice. The first reunion was a rather impromptu gathering that took place at a bar with several tables cordoned off for our group. The second reunion was kindled by Social Media and then the third reunion was almost in a state of inertia. Perhaps I had too much wine, but when a group of us got together to discuss the third reunion and while everyone agreed that they wanted to continue with the concept, somehow I became the chair, with adept assistance by others and that format was been repeated ever since.
Most people go from their elementary school to their middle school and then on to high school, basically with the same group of kids that they grew up with. In Detroit, there were five elementary schools that funneled their graduates into one Junior High School for the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Then we were splintered off to as many as five different high schools, depending on geography, academics or a specific curriculum that certain high schools specialized in. The Junior High was the big melting pot and many life long friendships were created from those three years. In later reunions the mix of attendees also included the parochial schools in the neighborhoods, as we were all intermingled after school.
The day before the reunion, there was possibly the last “walk through” of the school, while the school was saved from becoming empty, it will be employed by the Board of Education for an Adult Learning Center and it will cease its entity as a school. I did not get a chance to attend the “walk through,” but I felt alright with missing it, as I did have the delightful chance of delivering the graduation speech to the last class of the school. I also enjoyed the fact that my ticket number of sixty-nine was also the year that I graduated, and I also believe that we had the most alumni appear for this reunion.
The reunion actually started earlier and I was slated to work the registration table at three when the doors opened up, but I got there five minutes late, due to a traffic tie up that took twenty minutes to get through without any hope of creating a detour for myself. So I worked the table at a later time schedule. There were individuals that worked getting the decorations in place, we had volunteer photographers in attendance, one that was taking group pictures of each year and another that was filming the partiers in all of their revelry. One couple was also honored for restoring the old podium from the school, and they also found a replacement podium for the school, so now we have an official keepsake to use for all future reunions. There has become another tradition where everyone can take the helium filled balloons that were used as centerpieces on the tables and one could write the name or names of past friends of the neighborhood that have since passed away, and all the balloons are released at the same time from the field behind the hall for a moment of reverence.
For the admission price, the attendees had the chance to go through the buffet line that featured “City Chicken,” Kielbasa and Sauerkraut and Roast Beef, not to mention salads, bread and assorted sides. Everyone was quite pleased with the food, and it was the same caterer for the last couple of reunions. There were iced tubs set up for beer, water and assorted soft drinks for the evening. Later on in the evening there must have been about thirty pizza pies delivered for some late night snacking. There were also four different sheet cakes for the party decorated with different themes pertinent to the festivities.
While there were basic drinks furnished for the attendees, one could also bring their own choice of beverages, and I saw an assortment of different liquors for some, as their drink of preference. I also some wine on the tables and I even brought some wine for myself, and I guess that would not surprise anyone. I had decided to have some chilled white wines as the heat of the day, kept me from having any red wine. I guess that I have been on a Vouvray kick recently and I started the party off with another bottle of this famed wine from France. I had a bottle of Barton & Guestier Vouvray 2014 from the Loire Valley and the area around Touraine. Barton & Guestier for years used B & G for their labels, as they have been an extremely safe bet for ages for the wines that they bottle as a negociant. I also trust that this new label is geared for the New World customers as it is the first time that I have seen the grape Chenin Blanc appear, as if Vouvray would not automatically mean that to most people. Later on in the evening I opened up a bottle of Carmel Road Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2011 from one of my favorite areas in California, namely Monterey. I had some concern about the age of the wine, but it showed no foxiness or oxidation and was quite mellow and showed the craftsmanship of the winery. The day was a most pleasant memory, enjoyed by all, and I am sure missed by those that did not attend and they hopefully will not miss the next reunion.