Wed04162014

A Los Altos High School reunion: A Piece of My Mind

My class was one of the largest ever to graduate from Los Altos High School – the yearbook lists exactly 500 graduates. Last weekend I attended one of those decade-marking reunions.

The reunion organizers did a fantastic job – 180 alums plus many spouses attended one or more of the weekend’s events. Graduates came from as far away as Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and France. What a parade of life stories! It is hard to believe that we were once all together on the same campus at the same time; since then, so many roads have branched out from this point of origin.

The whereabouts of 99 members of our class are unknown. Fifty-seven others are known to be dead. The boy I invited to the girl-ask-boy dance my senior year died in an auto accident on his way back to university in his freshman year after spring vacation. One of the most beautiful and brilliant girls in my English class swam out into the Pacific Ocean one morning and did not turn back. The boy who invited me to the Christmas dance my sophomore year became an accomplished concert pianist but was an early casualty of the AIDS epidemic.

Not all the classmates who were contacted provided information about themselves. Of those who did:

Fifty-three classmates served in the military. Several died in Vietnam.

Our class includes 31 doctors and nurses, 9 lawyers and 59 teachers.

Four classmates joined the Peace Corps.

Fifteen worked in aviation, some for such late, great names as Pan Am and TWA.

One was the proprietor of a hot-air balloon touring company.

Fourteen married another person in the class. Of those, 10 are still together.

One of my classmates had two natural children, adopted five more and served on the state Board of Physicians Committee for Adoption, all while serving as the only pediatrician in a small rural community for more than 30 years.

Another started a Women’s Interfaith Understanding group for Christian and Muslim women in her Central Valley, California, town.

One of my classmates flew home to California after a visit with her pregnant daughter in Texas, not knowing that the daughter would be murdered later that morning when she surprised a daylight burglar in her home.

One is an internationally recognized authority on parrots.

Another breeds and trains horses for competitive carriage driving and dressage.

One member of our Los Altos High synchronized swimming team was in the first group of honorees for the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Three of my classmates own vineyards.

One classmate, going through papers in his late father’s desk, discovered that he had been adopted and that his natural father had been a full-blooded Lakota; he has since adopted his Native American heritage and his birth father’s name.

One of my classmates started a bond-trading firm and is now, per Forbes Magazine, one of the 200 richest people in America.

The star athlete, who lettered in four sports, later quarterbacked his college football team and played several seasons of professional baseball, went into construction when his playing days were over and died of heart failure in his bed at age 60.

Talking with some of my high school friends was as if no time had passed at all. Sharing what we had done in the past decades was as comfortable as sharing what we had done the past weekend. But there were many stories I did not get to hear. And what are the stories of those lost 99?

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