New York City: "Twelve Time Zones and the Taft Reunion."
New York, New York
September 21, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
During my extended visit here in the USA , I have been asked several times, "Jan, how was your high school reunion?"
My answer? "It was electric."
From Friday evening, September 12 until Sunday afternoon, September 14, for three days in New York City , the air was charged, ionized, and magnetized with anticipation and excitement. How could it be otherwise? Classmates and teammates, pals, buddies, old chums, girl friends and boy friends, we have not seen each other in oh so many, many years. (Don't ask).
It was electric.
Our class at Taft had more than one thousand graduates. The reunion organizers found more than eight hundred. More than three hundred signed up, mostly from Greater New York but also from Chicago, Miami , San Francisco , Los Angeles , and other places across America . Yours truly traveled from twelve time zones away.
Friday evening - Cocktails at The Friar's Club on East 55 Street.
Saturday - Bus ride through "the old neighborhood" with a tour and lunch at our Alma Mater.
Saturday evening - Reception at the Marriott Hotel on East 49 Street.
Sunday - Brunch at the Brasserie on West 57 Street.
We high school classmates gathered together to hug and smile, laugh and shriek, dance and sing, remember, reminisce and recall our "happy days" at William Howard Taft High School in The Bronx, New York. (New Yorkers like to be brief; we simply say, "I went to Taft.")
Naturally, no one has changed since 1958. Not a bit. But just in case, the reunion organizers provided everyone with a button with the clearly recognizable teen-age portrait from our high school yearbook, a photo taken oh so many, many years ago.
I attended all the events. I was happy to be among my old friends and classmates. But more than happy, I was proud.
I am proud to be a graduate of Taft, a neighborhood high school that produced doctors and dentists, lawyers and businessmen, artists and businesswomen, stockbrokers and real estate brokers, engineers and domestic engineers, accountants and consultants, athletes and actors, barbers and musicians, professors and policemen, scientists and teachers, and teachers, and teachers, and more teachers. And despite the fact that we grew up with only the radio and 45 rpm's, Taft even produced a computer wunderkind or two or three.
And how many children? And how many grandchildren? We need a computer.
Twelve time zones, Jan? Yes, I decided to attend the reunion to reinvigorate the friendships that I have maintained over the years. I also anticipated that I would once again see my classmates who had attended our previous reunions. But the most welcome and unexpected result is that I now have a whole new set of friends. Like me, many of my classmates love to travel so I am expecting several guests in the coming months and years. And these days, with email, instant messages, blogs, social networks and websites with telephone service, I expect to be a very busy correspondent. *
Twelve time zones, Jan? Yes, I decided to attend the reunion for who can resist a pilgrimage to New York ? What a city! It's clean and I feel safe. There's no graffiti anymore. Subways and buses and trains run on a schedule and on time. The new and dramatic construction co-exists with the old, traditional structures that somehow seem brighter and more inviting.
What people! New Yorkers have a reputation for not being friendly. Wrong! Just because we're always in a rush doesn't make us unfriendly. To the contrary, New York is one of the friendliest places I have visited. I still can't believe that both a bus and a train ticket agent offered me a Senior discount without my asking.
And what faces! When I was a kid, New York was a white Italian-Irish-Polish-Jewish city with a large Black community, a growing Latino population, and Chinatown . Now New York is truly an international city with large groups of Koreans, Russians, Africans and immigrants from The Middle East. Try to find a taxi driver who isn't from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Twelve time zones, Jan? Yes, I decided to attend the reunion because I wanted to visit my second Alma Mater, The City College of New York, or as we short-and-to-the-point New Yorkers say, "City."
For most of its more than one hundred year history, City admitted only the very best New York City high school graduates. Most were too poor to apply to out-of-town schools. We received a superior university education, free-of-charge! And now, just as in the past, the outstanding student body reflects the immigrant or first-generation population of New York. On campus, what faces! I am proud to be a graduate and a supporter of City College.
Twelve time zones, Jan? Yes, I traveled from my new home in Bangkok, Thailand to attend my high school reunion at my first home, New York, New York, USA.
I have had other homes: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania ; Boston , Massachusetts ; and Miami , Florida . But as every New Yorker will attest, "You can take the boy out of The City but you can't take The City out of the boy."
I will always be an enthusiastic promoter of New York , a grateful alumnus of City College and a proud graduate of Taft High.
I have always had those feelings. I didn't need to travel half way around the world to remind myself. So why did I go? Who can say? Maybe it's just as simple as, "It's who I am and what I like to do." Besides, is there a better way to spend an electric weekend in The City than with a gang of boisterous, brilliant, and beloved Bronxites?
Happy reunions to all,