Don’t You (Forget About Me) by
100
(192 Stories)

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

College High class of ’68, April 2006

My high school was a small, selective public high school on the campus of Montclair State College that admitted 30 students in each grade, 15 boys and 15 girls. It went from seventh through twelfth grade, so you can imagine how well we got to know each other, such a small group spending six years together. We kept in touch after high school for a while. Several of my classmates came to visit me in Cambridge, since that was the epicenter of the college universe at that time. But years passed, and we gradually drifted apart. In those days before the internet, it took some actual effort to keep in touch. And especially after my parents sold our house and moved into a retirement community in central Jersey, there wasn’t even the possibility of seeing old classmates when I came home to visit.

The school was shut down some time in the mid-70s, so there wasn’t any infrastructure remaining to plan or hold reunions. I found out later that there had been an informal 20th reunion in 1988, organized by classmates who still lived in Montclair, but nobody knew how to get in touch with me, so I didn’t know about it. And I was having a baby that summer, so I’m not sure if I would have been able to make it back to New Jersey anyway.

Some time in the early 2000s I discovered a website called classmates.com and signed up on it. There were two levels of membership. With a free membership, you could see the names and profiles of other people from the schools you had attended and maybe also send them a message. With a paid membership, there were more options and you could get more information. Naturally I went for the free membership. I can’t remember if I made any connections on the website, but the one valuable thing that occurred was that I got an invitation to an all-class reunion that someone from the class of ’62 was organizing, to be held in April 2006. She sent the notice to everyone who had registered on classmates.com, and asked us all to pass it on to any other people for whom we had contact information.

How was it possible to have an all-class reunion, you say? The school only started in the 1930s, and ended as I said in the mid-70s, and there were 30 people in each year. So even if everyone showed up, that would be a smaller crowd than a lot of high school classes – 40 years times 30 people equals 1200 – and of course you would never get everyone showing up. The event was to be a Saturday night dinner-dance at a restaurant in northern New Jersey fairly near the campus of the college where the high school had been located.

At that point I think I was in touch with only two people from the class, Robin and Bruce. I had found Robin through an internet search, because she was teaching a class at the Lexington, Mass. Adult Center, and her name popped up on their website. Key to finding her, of course, was the fact that, although she had changed her name when she got married, she was now divorced and had gone back to using her own name. So we had been in touch for a few years, and in fact my kids and I had stayed with her in Lexington when we visited Harvard on Ben’s college tour in 2005. I can’t remember how I found Bruce, it may have been as a result of the planning list for the all-class reunion.

My job at the time was not that demanding, and the lure of the internet was strong. I could sit in my office and surf the net without anyone knowing. I decided to try to track down everyone from my graduating class, which was actually only 24 people, not 30, because we had lost some along the way, either because their families moved away or they just decided to go back to the regular public school. Bruce had the same idea, and so we ended up splitting up the class between us. And in a matter of a few months, we found EVERYBODY! I wish I had a clearer memory of what search techniques we used. The men were easier to find than the women, because most of the women, even in that increasingly feminist era, had changed their names when they got married, something I never could have done. But we found them all. And two-thirds of them came to the reunion.

In front of the former high school building

We turned it into a three-day event. Those of us who didn’t still have parents living in the area all stayed at the same hotel, and Friday night we had a class dinner at the hotel restaurant. Saturday morning there were tours of the college campus, and of the former high school building, which were arranged by the all-class reunion organizers. Saturday evening was the big dinner-dance. And on Sunday, one of the women who still lived in the area generously hosted a brunch for our class at her country club (where the featured image was taken).

Everyone in the class was still alive and reasonably healthy in 2006. Since that time two classmates have died. So I’m glad we had the reunion when we did.

On the other hand, my attempts to find friends from elementary school and from summer camps have not been successful at all. I’m sure it is because all the women got married and changed their names. Every woman who I was friends with in the ’80s (when I got married) kept her own name, or else hyphenated, so I thought the  custom of name changing had died, but obviously I was wrong.

The person I have tried hardest to find, with no success, is Amy, my roommate from the Syracuse summer program who I wrote about in a couple of earlier stories. I have used every search technique I can think of, and reached only dead ends. But I will keep trying!

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy


Characterizations: right on!

Comments

  1. Marian says:

    Suzy, it’s awesome that so many of your classmates showed up to this reunion. We do indeed lead parallel lives. I was at Montclair State the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school at West Essex (would have been 1969, after you were gone) doing summer theater and living on campus. Like you, I never changed my name when I got married, but few of my classmates have sought me out. No surprise, because only three of us, to my knowledge, ventured west of the Mississippi. And like you, I tried the free version of classmates.com and found a couple of people, none of whom I was close to. Because Mills is such a small college, and I stayed in California, my connections there are more substantial.

    • Suzy says:

      Marian, I love finding out that you were at Montclair State! Just another one of the little strands that tie us together. My college and law school connections have always been good, because the schools fostered them. The fact that my high school no longer existed was what made connecting with those people more challenging.

  2. Kudos, Suzy, for getting together as many people as you did under the circumstances. And how fun to have a three-day event so you can really hang out and catch up in a meaningful way. You’d think there would be a national database for people that WANT to be found, that everyone just knows about, no fees, no ads, no spam, no selling of info (right!), and you just opt in or out, say, when you renew your Driving License or thru Social Security, and people could accept or deny contact as they so wish. No other info, just an email address. Of course, saying that I had to look to see if there is such a thing, and there is, or are, several versions, but not at all what I was thinking about, and then of course all the ominous overtones come in…monitoring, surveillance and so never mind, fuggedaboutit.

    I joined classmates.com a long time ago and it was fun for a while but it’s a business and it felt like I was getting milked for upgrades so I opted out before long. Plus, the classmates I was most interested in finding weren’t members so it was kind of pointless. My mom lived in the same house I grew up in for years after my brothers and I had all left, and kept the same telephone number. It was remarkable how many of our friends dropped in or called from time to time just to say hi. Sigh.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Barbara. I like your idea of the national database, although as you say there could be ominous overtones. Considering I won’t get my DNA tested because I don’t want anyone to have so much info about me, I probably shouldn’t want to be in a national database.

      I am envious of the fact that your mother stayed in the same house with the same phone number for so long, so that friends could drop in or call. But I wouldn’t have wanted my parents to stay put just to make it easier for old friends to find me.

  3. Suzy,
    Amazing that you found that whole class, reunions are indeed wonderful!
    I reconnected with many old friends at a neighbor reunion about 10 years ago.
    Hope you find Amy, keep trying!

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, Dana. I made another attempt to find Amy today after I wrote this story, and I went through the whole process on a website that claimed to know her contact info, but at the last step they wanted an exorbitant amount of money, so I exited out of the search. I’m still wondering if it was the right Amy though. If so, she is apparently living in Woodstock, New York.

      • Suzy, I’ve done that too and quit when asked for money to continue the search.
        But sometimes just on Google you can find out quite a lot as I did with my old college flame M!
        It would be nice if we could determine who is Googling us!

      • Suzy, you were kind to offer to track down roommate Tom on the West Coast. Now let me help you track down an Amy in Woodstock, a frequent destination. And not very large.
        Having attended a private secondary school I note one tremendous advantage that experience offers: they want money from us, endlessly, and they do a lot of leg work to keep track of people.

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Suzy, thanks for the tip about classmates.com. I am going to check that out! I think it is FABULOUS that you reconnected with your entire class before anyone passed away! Just awesome! The internet has made searches much easier, tho married names do complicate things. When I became engaged, 46 years ago, I thought about keeping my maiden named, which I liked and thought was less complicated than PFAU! I mentioned it at the Sunday dinner table to my future in-laws (I was really shy and quiet in those days). My future mother-in-law, who was 5’8″, pulled herself up and said, “If I had to take this name, YOU have to take this name!” I complied. Years later, I repeated that conversation to her. She told me she was joking. It didn’t sound that way to me at the time.

    And I understand about going to such a small school. My David had a similar situation in Boston (though it was private) called the Commonwealth School. He had 32 kids in his graduating class. It is only 9-12 and occupies twin town houses in Boston’s Back Bay. It is a fairly young school, founded by Charles Merrill, son of the founder of Merrill Lynch. Charles had gone to Deerfield Academy, a fancy boy’s boarding school out in Western MA and he wanted the exact opposite for his school; urban, co-ed, ethnically diverse (made so with lots of scholarship support). Kids come from all over Eastern MA on public transportation. David transferred in after attending 9th grade at HUGE Newton North and just blossomed there. He remains close friends with many of his classmates and I remain devoted to the school that was so great for my child. The headmaster just announced his retirement two days ago (he was Director of Admissions when David interviewed, but assumed the head as David enrolled). I sent him a long email, continuing my gratitude and support.

    Wonderful story about seeking out old friends and the ability to reconnect.

    • Suzy says:

      Hope you are able to find some people on classmates.com. I was surprised to discover it was still in existence all these years later. I thought it might be like MySpace that was so big for a while and then just died. But no, it is still there and might have some helpful info.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Suzy, you were so lucky to have that reunion back in 2006. What a great photo. You are so right about women not keeping their birth (can you believe we used to say maiden?) names. It makes FB searches impossible, although I added mine to my profile in the hope that someone could find me. I have used the free version of classmates but lost my login. I guess I will have to get a new one and try searching one more time, although the people I want to find had not responded to the questionnaire the last time I looked and were “missing.”

    • Suzy says:

      Yes, I am very glad we had the all-class reunion in 2006. My class actually held a 50th reunion in 2018, but only nine classmates (plus some spouses) showed up. It was still fun, but disappointing that we didn’t get a better turnout.

  6. A primer on detective work, Suzy! A great recount of a difficult but successful quest, and struck by the impossibility of tracking down anyone pre-Internet. My gawd, what did we do? I guess we just considered old, lost friends missing in action.

    • Suzy says:

      I know, it was almost impossible to track anyone down pre-internet. I guess you could have hired a private investigator, but even that might not yield any results. As you say, people were just MIA, and there was nothing to be done about it.

Leave a Reply