The 50th Reunion was a lot of fun!
View the 50th Reunion Photos
Our Chicopee is hardly the sort of hometown that long-absent natives long for in a poetic sort of way. Accurately, it is a used-to-be mill town - bigger than most - but now hardly more than an extensive suburb of Springfield. The one thing Chicopee seems to have in common with every other hometown is that things change but they somehow remain the same: All the streets are still there, but most of the businesses and factories you might remember are closed, some even torn down. The few that are still open have changed their names – Spalding’s isn’t Spalding’s any more. The grammar school you went to as kid is gone, too. Chicopee-High-the-institution has moved up Front Street a half mile or so, and some folks are rightfully proud of the new building. The old CHS where we attended classes still stands at the top of an impressive lawn, and although the building looks the same from the outside, renovations in the years before it was closed eliminated many of the things we might remember from our years there - the spacious cafeteria was converted to classrooms, Yankee stadium is gone, cats’ alley is just a memory.
Westover Air Force Base is still there, too, but they call it something else now and it’s hardly the bustling city-within-a-city it once was. The “singing bridge” in the Falls was replaced a few years back by a structure just like the one every other town has. Too bad – I kind of liked the old bridge, even if it was a challenge to drive a straight line across it. Abdow’s Big Boy up on the first rotary is no more, and all of the local Friendly’s we knew have been closed. The rock ‘n roll A.M. station we all listened to is still on the air, but it’s “all-talk-all-the-time” now.
Kids change, but they remain the same, also. I see many of our old CHS classmates in the young high-schoolers I routinely work with. Oh, Henry B. Fay is rolling over in his grave because of the way today’s kids look - some have beards and tattoos and every one of them has an i-Phone glued to his hand, but they’re pretty much the same kids you and I knew in high school: There’s big shots and show-offs and nerds and clueless jocks and quiet kids just taking it all in, all of them trying their darndest to be cool. The boys still flirt with girls, and the girls pretend to ignore the boys, and it’s plain that things are just as they’ve always been. I’m glad.
It was hard not to have a good time when we were high-schoolers ourselves. I liked decorating the gym for a prom, and I liked parking by the fountain in Szot Park, and I liked walking home in the dark after football practice. I liked spending four years with the same bunch of kids in home room – all of us with last names that started with an “M.” I can’t help think that Chicopee High is the place where I grew up. The Holyoke Street Railway busses that we used to ride to school are long gone - the company folded a quarter century ago. But sometimes I think if I was on the street and one of those old maroon-and-cream buses pulled up, I’d get on in a heartbeat and hope it would drop me off at Chicopee High in time for third lunch. I’d go right in and sit at the senior table and try my darndest to be cool all over again.
The CHS class of ’65 has scattered in a statistically predictable manner. And, in a similarly predictable fashion, some of us have remained in Chicopee. A lot more old Pacers will be coming home in September of 2015. Some of them are long-lost friends of mine and yours. Like our home town, the people who populate our remembrances of Chicopee High have changed but somehow remained the same. When next I see you, we might have to be reintroduced to one another - After 50 years, life and time and gravity has put us all incognito a bit and only in our memories are any of us still 17. Then there’s this: My older daughter is going to her own 25th CHS reunion later this year. If I have a 42 year-old kid who is herself worried about getting old, what does that say about me?
I hope you recall CHS and our time there together as fondly as I do. I hope you’ll come back to Chicopee for a look around, but mostly to visit those of us who are so looking forward to seeing you again. Back when we graduated, we all had a thousand possibilities for a life story. Now it’s pretty much written out in full, although right around now the part of the story that’s still left is starting to get really interesting. Life stories: I’d like to hear yours, and so would a lot of other old Pacers.
It’s time to come home.
We’ve planned the 50th reunion as a weekend-long celebration. Here’s the way it will shape up:
Friday evening, September 25th, 2015: Informal social gathering in the beer garden of the Munich Haus in downtown Chicopee. The class of ’65 will have exclusive use of the garden from 5:00 until 7:00, and after that we might have to mingle with the general public. Cash bar, hors d'oeuvres until 7:00. The Munich Haus has its own small parking lot, but there is on-street parking and many lots scattered all around downtown. On a Friday night, there should be no problems parking within easy walking distance. You can have a better look at the Munich Haus on-line at" http://www.munichhaus.com/
Saturday afternoon, September 26th, 2015: Golf outing at the Holyoke Country Club, 9-hole mixed foursomes.
Saturday evening, September 26th, 2015: Reunion banquet at the Castle of Knights (Knights of Columbus hall) on the second rotary of Route 33 (Memorial Drive, aka The North-South Highway) We’ll have a full smorg with carving stations, a cash bar, and dancing to an “oldies DJ.” We’ll have a photographer on hand, and all photos will be available (free of charge) via e-mail right after the reunion. We’ll provide name tags with your yearbook photo on them. You won’t be able to tell who’s who without your yearbook, so bring it along — we still need a few autographs in ours. There is easy parking at The Castle of Knights in their own lot. You can have a better look at the place on line at http://www.castleofknights.com/.
Invitations: We will mail out physical invitations (and e-mail printable invitation forms to those with e-mail accounts) during the summer of 2015. You’ll have to return them with a check. For the sake of planning, there will be a “must have by” date with the invitation.
Money? The class of ’65 has a modest amount of money remaining in our reunion account. The cost of mailing out “save-the-date” postcards was $100, with a similar expense expected when the actual invitations are mailed. We’ve made reservation down-payments at both the Munich House and the Castle of Knights. The treasury will pay for the DJ and the photographer at the banquet, and the remainder will go toward hors d'oeuvres at the Friday night get-together in the Beer Garden. All events will be minimally priced on an actual cost basis, since we anticipate no future reunions. At the completion of the 50th it is the intention of the committee to close the account with a zero balance.
Tour of CHS: We toured the new CHS at the 40th reunion, so we thought you might welcome a “last look” at the old building. We’re working through channels toward that end, and should have more news as the date draws nearer.
Other class news: James Lentowski is heading-up a committee to make a 50th anniversary gift to Chicopee High. At the reunion, he might want a moment of your time.
Address Unknown? At last count there were 73 people we’ve lost track of, and each time we mail out invitations there is a bunch that come back “no longer at this address.” The list of missing classmates posted here was updated as of the June 30th, 2014. Occasionally, we see a familiar name on Classmates.com or Reunion.com, so we know some of the missing people are trying to get in touch with the class. If you hear from someone (or, for that matter, if you’d like to contact someone that we might have an address for) please let us know. All information, e-mail and otherwise, will of course be treated as private and used only for reunion purposes.
Hope to see all of you at the 50th on September 26th 2015. Stay in touch!