Homewood-Flossmoor High School 40th Anniversary of Class of 1975

As the emcee for the event, I wrote the following script for the reunion celebration of the 40th anniversary of the class of 1975 from Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters Club

  1. Official welcome

Welcome everybody to the 40th Reunion of the Class of ’75 from Homewood-Flossmoor High School!   Just a few preliminary announcements—in case you haven’t figured it out already, the washrooms are over by the entrance.   In case things get a little too heated up on the dance floor, the emergency exits are over there by the door you went to get your pictures taken.    We all live in a future we scarcely could have imagined back in the 70s, where we are all electronically linked to the entire world with the device the size of a package of cigarettes (hold out a cell phone)–actually it’s thinner than a pack of cigarettes, if my memories of my trips behind the biology pond serve me right.  In any case, humbly request that you put your cellphones on vibrate, mute, or the stun setting if you are a Star Trek fan.   We want you to spend some time linking with each other.  After all, for some of us, it’s been over 40 years since we’ve seen each other.

Let’s see a show of hands for all of those who are here for the first time at their high school reunion!  (Lead applause)  That includes me, because this is my first reunion as well.  My name is Jerome Rowley, and I moved back into the area from California back in 2013.  I was delighted to hear that Tina Landry was putting together a team to work on the reunion to mark the 40th anniversary of the graduation of the class of ’75 from H-F.  I asked if I join the team because I felt kind of guilty for not having been to any of the previous reunions, so this time around, I not only wanted to attend, but I wanted to make it happen for the rest of you.  And here you are!  Whether you were an athlete or a Mathlete, whether you were the valedictorian—or graduated Summa Cum Lousy.  You’re all welcome here at the 40th Reunion of the Class of ’75 from Homewood-Flossmoor High School!

  1. Honored Guests–Our Teachers

There is many groups of people in our society that I’ve had an increasing amount of respect for over the  years.  But as I now am in the position as a project manager where I’m starting to teach other people, including young people who are aspiring to be project managers themselves someday, it gives me a great appreciation for those people who put up with me, I mean, encouraged me when I was back at H-F, namely, our teachers.   Please join me in extending a warm round of applause for the teachers of H-F, including those who were able to make it to our Reunion tonight.  (List names and subject matter of teachers and have people rise in applause.)

Teaching is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  Plutarch once said that a mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.  Let’s see who is keeping the torch lit for the next generation.  Please rise and be acknowledge if you have been, or are now, an instructor at whatever level, from kindergarten to the university level and beyond.   (Wait for people to stand and applause)  (Gesturing towards the teachers table…) I think that is the greatest tribute we as a class can give you, our former teachers–that some of us have been inspired to do for others what you’ve done for us.  (Applause)

  1. Tributes–Armed Forces and First Responders

I’ve been privileged to have lived and worked abroad, and although I enjoyed the experience tremendously, I found that it increased my appreciate of the strengths of this country I call home, the United States of America.  If you have been, or are now, a veteran of any of the branches of the military, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, please stand up and receive our gratitude for your service to this country.   Please continue standing.   Also, if you have a family member, a spouse, a child or even a grandchild in the military, also stand up because of your support for them.  Please continue standing as well.

And finally, I want to mention a group that I always link to that day, September 11th, 2001, when I was living in New York City.  And as people ran away from the Twin Towers to escape the devastation, I will forget the people that were running towards it—in order to help their fellow New Yorkers.  I’m talking about the first responders—if you have been, or are now, a member of the police, fire department, or, an EMT, please rise and receive our gratitude for your service to your communities.

For all of you serve this country and your community, this next song is for you (cue Steve Sanford to play patriotic song…)

  1. Remembrance and reflection Blessings (Viking Choir)

I’ve mentioned the word gratitude several times, but through the years that word has taken more and more meaning.  I keep a gratitude journal in which every day I write down three things that I am thankful for.  And today, when I was getting ready to come here, I thought of people I had gone to high school with whom I hadn’t seen for years, and who I knew were going to be here, and I was so grateful to have the chance to see them again.  But then I thought of people I had gone to high school with whom I would NOT have a chance to see again, but because they are no longer with us.  We’ve set up a table in remembrance of those classmates, and I hope you have a chance to visit that table some time this evening (gesture towards MIA table).

In remembrance of those in our class who are not, and in gratitude for those in our class whom we are seeing tonight, I would like those who were in the Viking Choir to rise and sing “The Blessings of Aaron”, and if you remember the tune, I welcome you all to join in and sing along.  (gesture to Marty Orr).

  1. Official start of dinner

To make sure that everyone gets food as soon as possible, we’ve signaled the photographer to go to each table in turn, and after he takes your picture, he will release you to go to the buffet table.  If you don’t want your picture taken or are in the witness protection program, let the photographer know.  Let the dinner begin!

(Break for meal from 7:30 to 8:00 PM)

  1. Reflection and remembrance

I hope you’ve been enjoying reminiscing and getting re-acquainted with your fellow classmates from the class of ’75.  Talking to some people, it’s like time never passed—they’ve got that same animation and sparkle in their eyes that they did back then.  However, when I went to the washroom and looked at the mirror—I realized, well, yes, time HAS passed.  40 years!

The number 40 is significant in many ways.  It represents transition or change, the concept of renewal, a new beginning.  Numerologists assign the number forty as a magical number that marks the end to a long period of testing and the start of a new beginning.

40 is a significant year, of course, the Old Testament relays the story that the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years before reaching the promised land.  And it wasn’t because they were looking for a parking spot, either, because there wasn’t that much traffic in those days.  Forty years is more than just a few years. When you’ve gone through forty of anything–push ups, jobs, spouses, let alone 40 years living with the same spouse—it’s a substantial number.

Since we’re graduated we’ve been wandering through life for the past 40 years.  When I was in high school, a lot of my teachers and guidance counselors said, “don’t worry—success for you is JUST over the horizon.”  Which was a comforting thought back then, until many years later I found out that one of the definitions of the word “horizon” is “an imaginary line that keeps getting farther away from you the closer you get to it”.  Then I found the words of a German psychoanalyst Karlfriend Graf-Durkheim which I found a lot more comforting.  He said, “if you’re on a journey, and the end seems to keep getting farther and farther away from you, then at some point  you may realize that the real end IS the journey.”  Whatever journey you’ve been on, we’ve glad that your journey has taken you here tonight.

To reminisce about how far the journey has taken us, let’s think a little about what the world was like back in 1975.

What was the cost of a gallon of gas in 1975?    Cost of a gallon of Gas 44 -57 cents a gallon in 1975.

How much was a gallon of milk in 1975?  A gallon of milk cost $1.75

How much was a dozen eggs in 1975? A dozen eggs cost $0.77.

1975 was the year that a lot happened in politics.

  • The nation was healing from the Watergate scandal that brought end to the Presidency of Richard Nixon in August of the previous year.
  • The Vietnam War officially ended with the Fall of Saigon .
  • Republican presidential nomination went to Ronald Reagan, who was challenging incumbent President Gerald Ford.

In the world of technology, the future was starting to happen …

And in the world of culture, two legends combined into one, as

t was the end of the Post-War Boom, and the beginning of that undiscovered country known as the future, which we all live in today.  When I was in high school, I figured that, if I lived long enough to the year 2000, that I would be 43 years old.  My God, I’ll be an old man.  Well, this old man has learned to take things in stride, and things that I only read about in science fiction books have come to pass.

Let’s take another look at 1975 from our privileged vantage point of 2015 with a few games.   But first before I do that, let me invite someone who wants to tell you about those who made this event possible.   Please welcome the founder of the local John Jacobfests, our substitute Superman, John Jacob!

Thank you everyone, and now … let’s party!


2 Responses

  1. Hi there. I’m Rick Carlson, HFHS class of 1970 and three year member of the Viking Choir, as well. I enjoyed reading your pieces on your reunion and your choral experiences. Walter Rodby was definitely one of a kind. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to join the choir on the Russian tour, and somehow I never received any information regarding class reunions. I did know a girl, Sandi Swanson, who was in the choir that you went on the Rhine tour with. She graduated in ’74. R

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