Rich Galen

Sap Alert: This past weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the graduation from high school of the class of 1964 from West Orange (New Jersey) Mountain High. That's what this column will be about.

If you are looking for an angry screed, hit the key now and tune in later in the week when I'm cranky again.

The thing about fifty years isn't that it goes by so quickly when you're looking backwards, and seems so impossibly far away when you're looking ahead. That's true, but it's not what is most important.

What I got to thinking about this past weekend - the weekend of the inaccurately named "50th Reunion" of my high school graduating class - was about the inexorability of the whole thing. (The inaccuracy occurs because we have not had 50 reunions, it is the reunion marking the 50th anniversary of our graduation.)

From the moment of our birth one page comes off the calendar of our lives every 24 hours (or, to keep the accuracy thing going, 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.1 seconds).

Good times, bad times, smooth or rough, happy or sad: One day, one page.

There are pages we would like to rip off, tear into shreds, throw away from our lifetime calendars in about 12 hours, and forget about. Others, we would like to savor and keep for weeks or months, and remember forever.

Both are possible, but the will each use up the same exact 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.1 seconds. Not more. Not less.

Stipulating that graduation day for the West Orange Mountain class of 1964 was on the Summer Solstice of that year, June 21; 18,262 pages have fallen from the life calendars of every one of the living 236 graduates. No more. No less.

Gathering about half of them in the same place at the same time allowed us to share the vast variety of careers that a group of middle class kids from Northern New Jersey have been allowed to pursue during America's post World War II go-go decades.

At this point in their lives many of my classmates have retired and, being from New Jersey, a significant number of them have relocated to Florida. But there was a California contingent, a classmate that came from Finland and one from Israel. And one, of course, from Alexandria, Virginia.

The last reunion I went to was our 42nd. At the time I wondered (in a reply-all email) why 42nd? "Why not 41st or 43rd," I wrote. "Those are prime numbers. That's at least a little amusing. What's funny about 42?"

One of my mates replied-all to my query with this: "Because we're all turning sixty, you moron."

I would have gotten to that if I'd thought about it long enough.

Now, most of the class is 68 with a few of the "children" including me, still 67.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.