Let’s Hear It for Class Reunions

This past Sunday marked seventeen years since the passing of our mother Evelyn Allegra Anderson Busk. In the flurry of group-grope family emails that were exchanged that day, the general opinion was, that although she might be gone, her voice and words of wisdom remain, playing in endless loops in each of our heads.

In fact, I was hearing one of those last week as I was preparing to write last week’s blog. I had just finished “getting my ten” for the day and knew that, by the time Friday rolled around—the day the blog would post—that the step count would be at 18,000,000. I was going to write about that, but then I heard my mother’s voice as clear as a bell: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

So I didn’t. I’m giving my step report this week instead when I currently have a 68,000-step down payment on the next million. So yes, I’m still walking. And someone who changed email addresses without telling me, was astonished to learn that I’m still writing, too. She had missed the last four books. Not my fault.

But something else happened this last Sunday, as well. I graduated from high school in 1962, and Sunday was when I attended a sixtieth class reunion. You’ll notice I said “a” sixtieth class reunion rather than “my” sixtieth class reunion. An explanation for that will follow but, it’s complicated. (As Bill says, “With you, there are no short stories, only long ones.” So here goes.

I grew up in a family of nine. That’s a lot of birthdays to remember to begin with. Then, when you add in kids, kids’ spouses, grand kids, and great grand kids, that’s a whole lot more birthdays and ages to remember, but for me it’s even more challenging. I write four different series of books. So I have to remember all my characters’ relative ages as well—how old they were when I first started writing about them and how old they are now?

So with Beaumont I cheated. I gave him my birthday so I would be able to remember it, and for a long time that strategy worked. Then, a couple of weeks ago, while watching America’s Funniest Videos, there was a young man, a dancer, flinging his body from one side of the stage to the other. So I said to Bill, “From the point of view of my 76 year-old body, that looks impossible.”

Bill, by the way, is a retired electronics engineer. He also functions as our familial fact-checker. “Are you sure you’re seventy-six?” he asked. Arithmetic has never been my strong suit, so I used the calculator app on my computer. Sure enough. Next month I’ll be turning seventy-eight. Obviously during Covid, I cancelled all non-celebrated birthdays and spent two years happily marching in place at age seventy-six.

Meanwhile time was marching on for everyone else, including J.P. Beaumont. Bisbee High School acknowledged the class of 1962 during an alumni gathering this summer, but I was unable to attend. However, do you remember that J.P. and I are the same age? That means he also graduated from high school in 1962. In his case, because he grew up in Ballard, his alma mater is Ballard High School. And this year, I was invited to be guest of honor at the joint Ballard High reunions for the classes of 1961 and 1962.

There were 128 kids in my graduating glass. As my mother would have said, “Ballard High was a white horse of a different color.” Their class of ’61 had more than 600 kids and ’62 had more than 500. So the reunion gathering was far larger than I expected. No I didn’t end up spending the day with people from Bisbee, but I did get to celebrate it with people my age, many of whom turned out to be devoted fans of mine.

The Ballard High School colors are red and black as opposed to Bisbee’s red and gray, but I managed to show up properly attired in red and black. They’re the Beavers as opposed to Bisbee’s Pumas. I’m the only one there who didn’t know the words to their fight song, and none of them knew the words to “Onward Bisbee,” either, but they made me feel entirely at home.

Once Beaver alumni pass their 50th reunion, they become “Golden Beavers.” I was in a whole roomful of those on Sunday, but the first one I ever met was a lady named Ellen Olsen who sent me a cranky snail mail letter back in the late eighties or early nineties, bawling me out for referring to a sixty-something woman as a “little old lady.” Her complaint makes a lot more sense to me now than it did back then.

Over the years, I met a number of Ballard High Alums, and participated in their fundraising auctions on more than one occasion. A couple named John and Linda Ellingboe have been Ballard High’s ambassadors to me over the years, but I just found out that neither of them graduated in 1961 or 1962.

In other words, I may have celebrated on Sunday with a roomful of relative strangers, but both J.P. Beaumont and I are glad we went.

42 thoughts on “Let’s Hear It for Class Reunions

  1. Since my birthdate is 9/11/42 & the horrible tragedy for the USA happened on my 59th birthday, I decided 9/11 is a day of infamy & no longer my birthday; therefore I will be 59 forever.
    Re class reunion; my class had about 360 graduates. I was the tall, skinny, homely girl that nobody knew. But I got enough gumption to finally go to my 40th reunion & was telling one gentleman that nobody knew me & nobody asked me to any dances, etc., etc. His comment I loved – he said “That was our loss”

    • Tall–yup. Six feet tall in 7th grade.
      Invitations to dances–nope. Not a one.

      That’s. why Janis Ians song means so much to me.

      Dreams were all they gave for free
      To Ugly Duckling girls like me.

      And you, as it turns out.

  2. Your exchange reunion sounds more interesting than my own 50th reunion with Class of 1972 graduates this past weekend. My husband and I were in the same class so we went together. We never previously attended a reunion. Our own experience was the same as one of our classmates, who commented that she knew names of 1/3, she recognized faces of 1/3 (thanks to nametags!), and had no idea about the remaining third. Nevertheless: we had a great time celebrating with people who experienced many of the same things in the same place at the same time, 50 years earlier. It’s a good thing you could be adaptable and substitute Ballard High for Bisbee High. Congratulations on keeping up your steps!

  3. The current issue of Womens World has a several-page spread about Bisbee. It also features DESERT HEAT. Bet you already knew about that, right?

  4. In case you are not from Ballard the cheer goes something like this.
    “Lutefisk, lutefisk, lefse,
    lefse. We’re from Ballard. Ya, sure, You betcha.”

    My wife, Judy Olson Rikansrud was among other things president of the Ballard Foundation a few years ago. She also kept the Golden Beavers roster up to date.
    We celebrated her life yesterday in Ballard.

  5. Glad to hear you had a good time. Here’s a question that bothered me from the last book, maybe its different in the us as apposed to canada. Not letting children under 16 in a hospital. Isn’t that a rule from back in the seventies

    • It was earlier than that. I remember seeing my younger brothers and sisters as newborns for the first time through the open windows of Bisbee’s Copper Queen Hospitals–both the old one and the new one.

  6. My Mom also had pithy sayings. If someone did something stupid she’d say “He/she meant well.” We kids would groan. Another one was “On the other hand
    (pause) she wore a glove.” That’s the tip of the iceberg. I think it had something to do with growing up on a farm in Iowa.

  7. My family moved between my sophomore and junior years of high school. So I attended two different — very different! — high schools. The first was in a small town where I had lived since I was 8, on a street with 4 other members of my class. My HS class numbered around 130. The second was in a much bigger college town, much more diverse, and my class was over 400 people, bigger than the entire school in my first town.

    I was class of ’72, 50 years ago. This summer I attended both reunions. For HS number 1, it was the third time I’d showed up, but the first time at the place I’d graduated. I am happy that I attended both, and reconnected with a lot of people from my past. Visited places I remembered well and discovered how the towns had changed. Even though I was not one of the in group at either place, we’ve all grown more accepting in 50 years. It was good. I’m grateful that reunions get organized and give us these opportunities.

    I’m glad Ballard has made you (or is it JP?) an honorary member of the class of ’62. Which reminds me of my sister’s class, which had a fictional member, but that’s a whole other story!

  8. High School reunions are fun. It is amazing how classmate change … or don’t change. Some get better and some get worse. It would be interesting to know how many pounds have been lost for the occasion. How many of the classmates rented fancy cars to make a better appearance. Perhaps a fact-check of all of the stories that are floating around, would be in order.. There are those have become holier than thou and then there are the wild and crazy adventurers. While we mingle telling our war stories, it’s a bit like “Can you top This.”
    After a million “Do you Remember” tale, you drive home, vowing to return in five years. Life is good.

  9. Judy, I imagine you have a grea time at the school reunions. I am a year older that you. I will be 79 in October. I have never been to a school reunion. High school was not a pleasant time for me. I do occasionally wonder about some of my schoolmates, but the ones I was good friends with, I have kept in touch with. I would love to read of Beau at one of his reunions. Or did I miss that somewhere along the line?

  10. Re: age change
    My mother decided that 39 was to be her last acknowledged age so, the following year, she told my younger sister that she was 38. Being a preschooler, my sister bought it without question.
    The age kept going down until my sister was in 2nd grade and it dawned on her that her own age kept increasing but Mom’s kept decreasing.
    She was rather miffed about the prank.

  11. Congratulations on your travels to your millions of steps. I’m fortunate to be walking again after a fall and two surgeries. The Lifeflight was beautiful though.
    Totally understand about forgetting your age… wish we were ten years younger.

  12. After tw0 and a half years of being a couch potato, I myself am finally walking again-
    I have always loved to walk, and am blessed to be able to walk where I can see seagulls and ships and tugboats, and the Manhattan skyline across New York Harbor-
    I literally have NO excuse not to walk-
    Judy, your Mom never fails to entertain with her witty sayings: “That is a white horse of a different color-” I am going to add that to my collection of wonderful quotes from Bisbee- Thanks to Evie!

  13. My 60th reunion was this past week, and I wasn’t able to make it back to MN to join them. Our graduating class was only 52, so we knew everyone really well especially since many of us were in the same classes all 12 years.
    I so enjoy reading about you, your history and experiences, and how they relate to your books. Thank you for sharing with us.

  14. I graduated from Lincoln in 1962 but both our children graduated from Ballard–1991 and 1992. Glad you had a good time. I still remember when you came to Ballard to do a “reading” and signing on your 8th Beaumont book–Minor in Possession. I got “hooked” on your books then and still am a devoted reader.

  15. My sophomore year I moved to a small Idaho town and for 3 years struggled with friends………..and as we moved frequently, it was usually easy to walk into a class, smile and announce my name. My first and second names are Rolla Gay – and I am still called Gay by everyone who knows me. Anyway, I went to college, met a guy right out of 3 years/Korean War, married and had four kids. Anyway, he was from the same small town but graduated and left just before I moved there. It wasn’t a friendly town to me going to school BUT we went to EVERY ONE of his reunions because he was born and bred in that town and knew everyone. So I was more a part of the class of 1953. I finally went to my 50th class reunion and got voted the most changed…………….go figure:-)

  16. Hard to believe this is the 60th year since our high school graduation! Proud to be
    from the Miami High School class of 1962. My class had 146 graduates. Miami High only has multi-year reunions now rather than for a single year. Attendance is much better! Age keeps creeping up on us but so glad we are still kicking and moving forward!

  17. Until your blog today, I didn’t realize that I graduated from high school 60 years ago. Also, I had to stop and figure out my age, which will be 78 in two months. We didn’t have a 60th class reunion and I think I am glad. There is no way that all those old people are my age. I agree with you, we lost two years during the pandemic so we should just be 76 one more year. Love all your books and have read everyone of them, sometimes more than once. My parents retired in Phoenix in 1978 so I know that area best, which makes Ali Reynolds my favorite series Looking forward to something new coming. Please keep writing.

  18. OMG! Your post this week is so relevant today. I just flew back to San Pedro, Calif from Anacortes, WA, for my postponed 50th/now 52nd high school reunion. I’m sitting in my hotel room after returning from a pre reunion event reading your email. I spend last night with a good friend who just celebrated her 60th reunion and she had great wisdom and advice about what to wear and how old the guys will look compared to the women. Wow, was she correct!

  19. I graduated from Lincoln High School in 1965…..Ballard being an arch rival. As a huge sports fan I can picture a few basektball games at Ballard’s gym. I have cousins and a close friend who graduated from Ballard. My Dad grew up there until age 16, but somehow at that age entered the Marine Corp to escape a step father who made home life unbearable. He was in a tent along the runways of Hickam Air Force base when the Japanese flew over to bomb the naval ships at Pearl Harbor. Spent the War in the South Pacific. Never talked about his eperiences ……ever. So much in your blogs and books are reminders of “home” and my formulative years. I have now lived in Portland, Oregon since 1982 but Seattle is and will always be home. Your descriptions of Seattle (especially in the early J.P. Beaumont books are so on. You actually lived in the same apartment building as my best friend’s aunt. Thank you for enriching my life with recollections and memories of my youth. You in the past blogged about favorite restaurants along I-5. I still attend UDub Football games and often think of you while driving by your “landmarks”.

    Being of the same generation, you may appreciate that I was fired from a major national retailer at 5 months of pregnancy (even though it was a union store). Fired might be too strong a word. I just was no longer scheduled. When I confronted the store manager demanding my 2 weeks notice, he told me it would be obscene for me to me seen in public in “his” store. Your strong women who have proved gender has nothing to do with skill and dedication is so meaningful and appreciated.

    I have read every book you’ve published and look forward to every new release.

    Thank you for adding so much to my life. You are remarkable on so many levels.

  20. My parents graduated from Ballard Class of 1961 (Judith Maines and Ed Pedersen). Mom got me hooked on your books right after my oldest was born….here’s a book set in Seattle. Perfect timing for a Navy wife, first time Mom, and homesick. I have every JP book on a special shelf in my living room, and I reread every book in order about every 6 months. They are like old friends; I know them by heart and they bring me comfort. Mom is no longer here, she passed in 2003 and Dad lives in Rhode Island and barely remembers me (thanks, dementia) but I treasure every memory. Thanks to your books, I still get to have my connection with Ballard.

    While I grew up in Everett, my heart has always been in Ballard. “Lutefisk, lutefisk, lefse,
    lefse. We’re from Ballard. Ya, sure, You betcha.”

  21. I attended my 50th high school reunion in the Bronx, NY, in 2012, and organized a virtual reunion this past June for our 60th. We had a small, but great turnout. Our class had 99 students, and about 2/3 are deceased.
    Most of my high school years are blanks, with some outstanding moments. Wish I could remember more, and wish I could connect with some I remember but are out there in the void.
    If anyone is from St. Simon Stock HS in the Bronx, and remembers anyone from 1958-1962, please let me know. It would be a blessing – thank you!

  22. Dear Ms Jance, I did not finish high school; instead decided to quit in 11th grade, take the ged and start a tech school that was accredited and Grace college degrees. Even though I did not graduate, my friends from school still invite me to the reunions. I have Never attended. This year will be 40 years! I don’t know why but I feel like an imposter since I didn’t graduate. Thinking about it now, at almost 60 years old, I guess I’m just being silly.
    I would like to tell you how much I have enjoyed your books mostly your older characters. I have not been able to get into Ali like the rest; but I’m trying. I wrote you before about your Indian/Native American stories and really wish you would consider writing more. I don’t like any where near Arizona; I live in south Florida, so your books have taught me a lot about the desert and how beautiful it must be. I’m in the legal field as a private investigator and certified process server and my degree is in science specifically to do with electronics so it really baffles me why I can’t get into the Ali series. lol. I really love love love Joanna and J. P. (Please don’t let JP die anytime soon). I thank you for your special, beautiful entertaining stories they have brought much joy and taught me a lot about Arizona. One of your many many fans, Teresa Leonard

    • Teresa, I’d like to encourage you to go to a reunion. Your friends are well-intentioned and you will fit right in.
      I attended two different high schools, and the one I didn’t graduate from had much stronger ties for me. I grew up with these people. My best friend from that era invited me to a reunion, and we eventually attended two together. It was harder to go without her this summer, to see her photo on the display of departed classmates, to visit her parents without her. But I was welcome everywhere, and you will be, too. People won’t just reminisce about the last days; we shared rueful chuckles about the horrors of 9th grade and stories of our current lives in equal measure.

      • I second that. One of our Bisbee High School classmates transferred to a different school after our sophomore year, but we had been together since first grade. He was at our 40th, and I was thrilled to see hm there.

  23. The small town high school I greaduate4d from too many years ago is no more. It was consolidated with other schools in the county and even the building is gone. I attended only one or two reunions as grew away from my classmates. I think there are three or four of us still living, but am not in touch with anyone.

    • My parochial school is now a parking lot for the local public school district. Classmates worked with them to carve out a corner of the lot as a memorial. Every year or so, these past graduates hold a school-wide reunion in the parking lot and that way, we get to meet/greet people from other graduating years that we wouldn’t see at our own year’s reunion.
      It’s a shame you’ve not had the chance to reminisce but, if you’re really interested, this is one of the few actual wonders of the internet in finding old friends.

  24. For years I celebrated the anniversary of my 29th birthday! I figured if someone took the time to do the math they deserved to know my actual age. I also enjoy going to my class reunions. I wasn’t popular in high school, but it was lovely to have some of the guys say they were too shy to ask me out! lol! Also, all the “remember when” stories that I never participated in but people were convinced that I had been there! I’ve become Facebook Friends with several people that never gave me the time of day in school. We all change as we mature (notice I didn’t say “get older”!)

  25. On Sept.7th, 2022 I attended my Lincoln Lynx High School Reunion for Class 1953 – it comes to be the 69th year and is our last. We had a large graduation class count over 376 i think. We have had many get togethers over the years.
    My husband and I joined the Planning Committee sometime after the 5th year get together and continued on into the 50’s plus gatherings. He was a graduate of Roosevelt High School (supposedly a rival school), he only attended one of his reunions. He said he didn’t see or know anyone at his. (He graduated in 49 I think). We enjoyed everyone and became great friends, today most of us are 87 nearing 88 yrs old and a few walkers were needed, including mine!
    We are blessed with a Web Master and a newspaper “THE TOTEM” put out by Lincoln Lynx assoc. we receive 3 times a year, Check it out!
    Hope I can get my old computer transferred to my new one soon. Lots of problems with the one I’m using right now. Trying to catch up with emails but…
    .Read your book “Nothing To Lose” in a day when I was recently Quentined with Covid. I had been saving it like a “box of chocolates” Another Great Book!!
    Always looking forward to your next books. SincerelyDiane B.

  26. My 60th is a few years away but my 50th was the best so far. The vibe is much different when nearly everyone is retired. The real purpose of this message is to thank you profusely for your “Never Charged, Never Convicted” post earlier this year. Tears were running down my face as I read it, but comments have been closed. I’m 72 years old and just beginning to tell people about my own grandfather. While my abuse was never physical (I found much too late my sister’s was), I finally talked to a therapist who assured me it WAS abuse nevertheless. I never told my mother; when I was in the third grade, little girls were not be taught they could tell someone. Thank God we only saw this pervert every few years and I learned never to be alone with him. On a happier note, I grew up in Washington and absolutely adore JP.

    • Yes, nothing like what happened to us was in the Bobbsey twins. There was nothing to tell us it was okay to tell.

  27. Just catching up all the last 4 of your blogs. I’ve always read them as soon as you posted them but things have gone a bit wry around here. Anyway just wanted to say “another wonderful read” and thanks so much for posting every week.

Comments are closed.