The following pictures were taken at KD's Retirement Ceremony. Last Thursday night. I couldn't make it. Damn near broke my heart. I adore military ceremonies. Sometimes I drive up to West Point just to walk the ground. The place just feeds my soul.
Anyway, I made the decision not to go to DC last week, a hard one, as I knew it was a once in a lifetime event. "Work" was my reason (in part). It was the old ‘responsibility’ versus ‘desire’ decision. In this case I'm not exactly sure which was which. So it goes.
On the upside, the ReUnion is exactly two weeks away. That's like...tomorrow.
I'll be seeing most of the people in these pictures there. One is my oldest friend, from before kindergarten. Larger than life in my view, both figuratively and literally--and I mean that in the best possible sense. Another is the essence of what the word ‘Friend’ really means. He was everybody's Best Man. Another is a good man, strong, straight and true, like a tree. A gentle man who, as did others forged in 1970’s Peekskill, rose above the muck and melee. Another is the guy I want in my foxhole. Period. The hard-nosed linebacker who knocked everybody five-yards backwards…methodically, humbly, quietly. Another is that boy who, wherever he found himself, seemed to have a beam of pure light shining straight down on his head. Probably still does.
Yeah. I’m looking forward to seeing these old Friends, and others... Craig Langer. Patti Engel. Mike Leonard. Tony Robinson. Ann Andrews. Mike Littleton. Barry Prine. Kristie Hearle. Danny Arnold. Sue Olson. Donna Duchene. Jeff Cuffee. Cathy Sullivan. Jimmy Keegan. Debbie Vargulick. Doug Persecepe. Jimmy Fleitz. Mark Gagliardi. Dana Seegraves. Richie Hatcher. Matty Moro. And many more. It might be that I only exchange four and half words with each of them. That’ll be OK. That’s often how these events go; they can be something of a blur. But I’ll remember those four and half words, think back on them from time to time.
And that's the thing. That’s what these moments…these gatherings…this Life, in the end, is really made up of, n'est-ce pas? Thoughts, yes. Words, sure. Actions, definitely. And then? What's left?
(Yeah, I probably should have gone to DC).
Hope to see you all at the ReUnion. And hey, it's not too late, if you still want to come
Timeline 11:43h Friday 31 August 2018. THANK YOU!!! September 01, 2018 was set as a ‘deadline’ in order to reserve a ballroom in the Westchester Marriott for the Walter Panas High ‘78 ReUnion. The Marriott wouldn’t give us the ballroom unless we could promise them enough people to fill it. YOU did it. It’s filled. We’re in. And it’s relatively early: there are still five full weeks yet until the ReUnion—October 6! Five weeks ahead...unbelievable. We’re golden:) IF you haven’t bought your ticket yet, never fear: the ballroom is expandable. We’re still selling tickets to the Show. We only ask that you don’t wait too long. It creates a last minute logjam, and we’ll need some lead-time to create your name-tags, make up the right number of table-centerpieces, order enough balloons, etcetera! DO COME!! It’s gonna be FUN!!! (And Happy Birthday Paul DePaoli!)
Spanky, Darla and Alfalfa: Dream Sequence, "Club Spanky" episode, 1937.
Timeline 07:15h Wednesday 01 August 2018
I’ve been thinking about an old friend of mine.
He was a neighborhood kid, one of the gang that moved into the new development built-up behind the old 'hood.
We probably met in 5th grade. We were very tight through middle school and then, as so often happens, the neighborhood crew dispersed upon entering the broader vista of high school.
He discovered girls well before I did. They always all loved him, forever.
One day, we were probably in 7th grade, he told me he was going home to call his girlfriend on the phone. I remember thinking, ‘but…what for?’ I must’ve asked him how it works. Like, how did he know she was even home? What if she didn’t want to talk right now? What does one say to a girl on the phone? What if her dad picks up?
He was amused by my mystification, and he dialed her number, and there she was. He gave me the phone and said ‘you try’. I sprang back in horror and he smiled and said ‘just talk’. So I did.
And presto, he opened up a whole new wonderful world for me, just like that.
And it was always the same: he was always years ahead of me in experience, even though we were exactly the same age.
I remember one very deep conversation at his kitchen table centering on the all-important topic of pimples. We were both breaking out everywhere and were desperate to find the cure. He said his uncle told him it was all about the oils trapped in the tiny ridges of one’s fingertips. All one had to do was eat greasy foods with a utensil. He demonstrated by using a spoon to eat his potato chips. I was amazed by the breadth and depth of his knowledge (hey, I was thirteen years old). To this day I eat pizza with a knife and fork.
He was the only kid who willingly put down the bat/ball/stick/glove to go home and eat dinner. The rest of us pretended not to hear the call, or know the time of day, in order to squeeze in just one more at-bat. He always knew, and like some responsible elder among us putrid punks he’d just up and leave. Sometimes he’d get razzed for it. When I asked him about it he simply said, ‘I love my family’.
And that in part is who he was. He felt things very deeply, perhaps too much so. He was ahead of his years. He was acutely aware of those around him, those who were also vulnerable, or in pain.
His name was John Vallorosi.
What got me thinking about him? The following email:
"From: William Foley Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2018 11:51 PM To: Soos
Subject: strength and perseverance
It is a little late and I am tired and maybe I have had one too many Coronas for a Sunday night but I witnessed something pretty special tonight. Friends invited me to an outdoor concert in Yorktown tonight that was featuring a Chicago tribute band. We set up chairs and blankets, wine and food and waited for the show to begin. It was a beautiful night and everyone was enjoying themselves, listening to the old songs that brought back so many memories. About halfway thru the show someone grabbed me by the shoulder to say hello: it was our classmate Bobby Elsasser. Bobby says I am here with my wife and someone who would love to say hello to you. I say sure Bob lets go; as we are walking to where he is sitting he explains that we are going to say hello to Mrs. Vallorosi, John's mom. When we arrive Bob introduces me and Mrs. Val is smiling from ear to ear. We speak for a few minutes and talk about what a special person John was and how much he is missed by his family and friends. At this point I am realizing the extreme hardships that this woman has experienced. I am profoundly moved by this 80-year old woman. I am now also realizing that Bob stays in touch with Mrs. Val and has brought her to this concert tonight. And I am realizing that the Friendship John and Bob had continues as Bob still looks out for Mrs. Val.
John, once again this is an example of how special our class is.
I look forward to our 40th.
Me too, Billy. Me too.
Timeline: 07:01h Thursday 03 May 2018
Please Join US at the Walter Panas High School Class of ’78 40th ReUnion!
We are starting the ball rolling early, intentionally. Please don’t wait to buy your tickets and book your room(s). It may be Late-April now, but blink and it will be Sweet Summertime; blink again and it will be Autumn. Blink once more and…game over.
Here are the basic facts: Where: Westchester Marriott, 670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591.
When: Friday Night, October 5, 2018--Informal Meet and Greet at the Hotel Bar. Saturday Night October 6, 2018--Dinner and Dancing 7:00pm to 11:00pm. To include 4-Hour Premium Open Bar, Cocktail Hour through Dinner and Desert. Sunday October 7, 2018--Informal Brunch at Hotel Restaurant.
How Much: $120.00 per person (Saturday Evening Event). WPHS '78 Room Rate (Friday October 5 through Monday October 8): $149.00-159.00 To book by phone dial 800-882-1042 (Mention "Walter Panas High School 40th ReUnion"). If paying by check make the check payable, and mail to: Donna Shelley-Baumler 292 Main St., Suite 1 Cold Spring, NY 10516 Donna also set up a direct PayPal link, as follows: Paypal.me/WPHS78
***Book soon as hotel will be filling up with other events/guests fast. It will be more fun if we have our gang all on hand, in the same spot, all night for the after parties--and Sunday Brunch.
We have set up a FaceBook Page with loads of information about The ReUnion (and all things Walter Panas High Class of ’78) Check it out.
Please join us.The More the Merrier.ALL are welcome!
Ralph "Crash" Fasano
Timeline: Monday, 23 April 2018 11:33h Growing up we have our Best Friends. And they are the Best. But there’s always change along the way. It’s most pronounced when we are younger. Early on there’s two categories: Neighborhood Friends, and School Friends. In our version of 1970’s Peekskill we had several distinct neighborhoods (the Knolls, the Village, the Lake(s), the Hill, Tamarack, Westbrook, etc.); three (public) elementary schools (Lincoln Titus, Van Cort, and George Washington); and one junior high (Lakeland Middle). Then we all melded (collided?) at Walter Panas High. And all along the way Friendships formed-up, dissolved, re-formed…but they never really ended. For friendship, real Friendship is a lasting bond, something that transcends time and place. My first Best Friend was Paul DePaoli. He was a Neighborhood Friend. Our dads both worked at IBM, and Mrs. D brought over a Bundt cake on move-in day. Paul and I were the same age—and boom—off we went. One time Willet Denike had us wrestle on his front lawn. We were probably seven. Paul got on top of me and beat the living bejeezus out of me. He was just doing what came natural to him: Paul could always fight. I learned then and there that I could not. Willett loved the whole episode; I was profoundly disappointed and confused. My next Best Friend was Tommy Scordato. He was a School Friend. We met my first day of kindergarten. He rescued me, the classic story of the new kid saved by the veteran. We drew dinosaurs and talked and laughed like there was no tomorrow. And there wasn’t: there was always only the moment with Tommy: a glorious, funny, happy moment. My neighborhood was Crazy Town, kid-wise. There seemed to be 30 or 40 of us roaming the cul-de-sacs and woods and yards and streets. For me, it was all about sports—with one notable exception: Jeff Maguire. Jeff’s family lived in our ‘hood when it was still scrub woods and dirt roads. Every house that was built (and there were many) was an encroachment to the Maguires, an invasion of foreigners. They were the Algonquins, and we wrecked their hunting ground. Jeff smoked cigarettes at 10 and taught me how to build a campfire and clean a fish. We played army all day long, and went bowling or to the movies on rainy days. His favorite movie was To Hell and Back. Next up: Eddie Cancelleri. He moved up from the Bronx when I was about 10. Tough and so athletic, he was like an older brother to me. We played every sport under the sun, sometimes inventing them along the way (“LaCrockey” = hockey + lacrosse, was a favorite). As time went on we explored curse-words, and girls, and beer, and all the rest together. Once he let me tag along with him to a party (I was in 8th grade; he was in 10th): it was at Glenn Picone’s house in Lake Mohegan. Things were never the same after that. Middle School, eighth grade: Kenny DaRos, and Mike “Rocky” Perelle. It was an instant, deep bond (at least for me.) We knew we would soon be on the football field together, fighting for points, and each other. We talked about it incessantly. Then we lived it. High School Part One: Kenny Dahl and Farley King. The neighborhood is getting left behind; the horizon expands. At first I was surprised Farley and Kenny even knew my name. Popular with all, studs on and off the field, they had a sense-of-self and a natural confidence that I never caught up to. But damn, we had some fun. High School Part Deux: Danny Arnold, and Andy Ward. Danny and Andy always made me feel normal, at a time when I often didn’t. We shared a similar perspective, and sense of humor, and experience. They brought me into the orbit of Lips and Ze. And things began to get interesting.... High School Part Three: Eddie Reilly, and Scott Klarer. Riles and Neck, we just rolled from day one. The first party I went to with them, we climbed up this mountain somewhere in the dark heart of Put Valley. The path was vertical. I was dressed for meeting girls and I should have been dressed for rappelling. There were about 10 of us scrambling hand-over-foot in the pitch dark. One kid, all by himself (I think his name was Tommy Esposito), was carrying a keg, on his back. By himself, straight up this mountain. I could barely carry the comb in my back pocket up that thing. And I’m thinking: who the #@%$# are these guys...? And there's more to say, so much more—but I’m sitting here thinking about high school (again) when I should be working, so I gotta hurry this up…. One more thing. What’s interesting is that throughout that whole period, that Lifetime, the same Friends were always involved, and around, directly or indirectly. Paul was there from beginning to end. I would see him in the hallway and—boom—it only required a look and a nod. It was Understood. Likewise Tommy—we played all of our high school ball together, and the bond created at our kindergarten table never, ever waned or wavered. While I was running with Farley and Kenny, I was still looking for Jeff and I could find him, mowing his lawn. If I indulged my darker side with Riles and Neck, DaRos and Rocky showed me (by example) what I really needed to do, and who I really needed to be. And I still appreciate that. To this day I think of Eddie Cancelleri like an older brother. As I said, real Friendship never really ends. It cannot die. It is part of our memory—our Soul as it were—and therefore permanent, no matter the storms, and the peaks and troughs, we all must weather along the Way.
A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Emerson.
Tommy Scordato and Paul DePaoli
Timeline: Monday 16 April 2018, 13:05h
Hello, it’s me, … (Todd Rundgren, Hello It’s Me.) Hello (hello, hello), is there anybody in there?... (Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb.) Hello darkness my old friend, … (Simon and Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence.) Hello, I love you, … (The Doors, Hello I Love You.)
Hello. Yes, I’m back. Same subject, slightly revised and modified, a full five-years (10, 20, 30, 40, more?) older/later than the last time we were face-to-face. I’m here to talk to you about the Walter Panas High School Class of 1978 40th reunion (henceforth referred to as The ReUnion). 4…0. It’s a big one. Think 4th quarter…4th down…4th and goal…4th of July…4th Amendment (just kidding on the last two; couldn’t think of anything else for 4th). We are starting the ball rolling early, intentionally. Please don’t wait too long to get your tickets and book your room(s). It may be mid-April now, but blink and it will be Sweet Summertime; blink again and it will be Autumn. Blink once more and…game over. Here are the basic facts: Where: Westchester Marriott, 670 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591.
When: Friday Night, October 5, 2018--Informal Meet and Greet at the Hotel Bar. Saturday Night October 6, 2018--Dinner and Dancing 7:00pm to 11:00pm. To include 4-Hour Premium Open Bar, Cocktail Hour through Dinner and Desert. Sunday October 7, 2018--Informal Brunch at Hotel Restaurant.
How Much: $120.00 per person (Saturday Evening Event). WPHS '78 Room Rate (Friday October 5 through Monday October 8): $149.00-159.00 To book by phone dial 800-882-1042 (Mention "Walter Panas High School 40th ReUnion"). If paying by check make the check payable, and mail to: Donna Shelley-Baumler 292 Main St., Suite 1 Cold Spring, NY 10516 Donna also set up a direct PayPal link, as follows: Paypal.me/WPHS78 If you send a gift payment as a “friend,” there will be no fees associated with the payment. ***Book soon as hotel will be filling up with other events/guests fast. It will be more fun if we have our gang all on hand, in the same spot, all night for the after parties--and Sunday Brunch.
We have set up a FaceBook Page with loads of information about The ReUnion (and all things WPHS Class of ’78). Check it out.
Please JOIN us. The MORE the MERRIER.
ALL are welcome!
I can't even remember when the Seventies was. Robbie Keane.
"Elrond,” Bruce said. “The Council of Elrond. From Lord of the Rings. It’s the meeting where they decide to destroy the One Ring.” “Jesus,” Annie said. “None of you got laid in high school, did you?”
Andy Weir- The Martian
Gary Renza and Doug Percesepe, like we used to do...
He who seizes the right moment is the right man.
He who lets occasion pass will find her bald behind.
Timeline: 15:48h, Tuesday 15 August 2017 Check-it out, check-it out, check-it out: A very interesting thing happened on the way to the beach last night. Got an email. From a long lost classmate. Most of you will remember his name, perhaps his face, but not a lot else about him. He kinda flew under the radar in high school. Something unusual about him. You’d notice him, then you wouldn’t. Quiet, mellow, yet outgoing. Somber, serious, yet upbeat. Studious, bookish, but still made time for the party circuit. There, yet not there... He hasn’t been to any of our ReUnions thus far. Seems that life took him in some unexpected directions since good old Panas. Yet, when one thinks about it, and about him, the following is not that surprising, not entirely unexpected. Turns out he went on to an ivy-league college, east-coast, very nice place, international student body, semi-elite, not too pretentious. Met a girl there. Nice girl. Quiet, unassuming, sweet-natured. They stayed together through their four undergraduate years, and after. Turns out his girl was minor—er, maybe not so minor—Royalty. Think old, old money, way older than this nouveau phenomenon known as the United States. Think Habsburgs, Rothschild’s, and the Napoleonic Wars. Well, it’s way older than that. Think Charles the Second, and Louis the Sun King, and Rene Descartes. Well, it’s way older than that. Think the Dutch East India Company, and the Spanish Armada, and the Battle of Lepanto. Well, it’s way older than that. Get my drift? Anyway, this guy, this kid who we all knew, and yet didn’t know, he wants to throw that unique ReUnion party I was referring to earlier, down below. You know, my little pipe-dream: some beachy place, kinda cool locale, laid back vibe, change things up a bit for the 40th? Well, it’s all of that, except better. Listen up. Here’s the play: Our old classmate now has houses, villas, manors, all over the world. Think Porto Cervo, Sardinia; think Cote D’Azur, France; think Basel, Switzerland; think Edinburgh, Scotland; think St. Bart’s in the Caribbean. The list goes on, and on. He is willing to do the following for you, the Class of 1978, Walter Panas High…are you ready? We will have full use of his family’s ancient manor house on the coast of Brittany, France. 192 private acres of wild, un-spoilt, extremely pretty country. Older than eld. Original ruins date from the 12th century. Plundered and burned in 1348. Re-built in 1451. Burned down in the 16th century. Rebuilt again. Rinse, lather, repeat. Think of the history, think of the events this place has witnessed…it even has a couple of proprietary ghosts. On the water, facing the beautiful Bay of Biscay. Moors, cliffs, sandy lanes, monoliths, cobblestone streets. Stables, horses, groomsmen. Private golf course (Yeah, Matty!). Vines de Grape as thick as a man's thigh, pressed and bottled for onsite consumption only (Yeah, Dre! Yeah, KD! Yeah, Nate!). Five-star, full-time, live-in chef (Yeah, Pauly!). Butlers, chambermaids, gardeners. Heated pools (indoor and outdoor). It’s on for the weekend of October 6-8, 2018. Here’s what else he is willing to do (he wishes to remain anonymous until the night of—can you imagine?!?): the first 100 respondents to an upcoming email will be flown-out, on his dime(!!). Two U.S. points of departure, major hubs, east coast and west. Each of us is allowed one guest. Wife, kid, best friend, whatever. One suitcase each. Everything is taken care of: all food, all travel, all accommodation, all….everything. The only stipulation is that you must be a graduate of the Class of 1978, Walter Panas High School, Cortlandt Manor, NY. Pretty cool, huh? I sure am glad I sent out that little “what do y’all want to do for a 40th ReUnion?” note two weeks ago. Who’d a thunk? Sounds pretty good, hey?!? Too good to be true, right? Well, it is. Too good. To be true. But I had you there for a minute, right? Admit it. Sorry. Didn’t mean to get your hopes up. Just felt like playin’ for a bit…hey, I’m on vacation here…it’s raining…I got a little bored…. Here’s the real deal: after much careful deliberation and research by your ever faithful reunion committee we are pleased to announce the following: WPHS Class of '78 40th ReUnion Saturday October 06, 2018 The Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown, New York More details to come. (And if you’re out there Mr. Brittany, please call me at your earliest possible convenience).
Timeline 07:55h, Monday July 31, 2017 So, they called me last week. Yup. They called me (well, technically they emailed me, but you know what I mean). Already. So soon. You know what I'm talking 'bout? Who the "they" are? The Reunion Committee. They said I got to start thinking about the 40th Walter Panas Class of '78 ReUnion. I was like "Whaaa...? Now? ...? We just did this, right?" Not really; it was actually five years ago. And since these things typically happen on the decade [the word is derived (via French and Latin) from the Ancient Greek 'dekas', which means a group of ten], and because we had so much fun at the 30th ReUnion that we decided to do the last one on the lustrum (5-year, or half-decade), now it’s time, again. Actually we are still one year out—Columbus Day Weekend October 2018 is the date—but we need to start planning now. They said the Marriott’s and the Hiltons get all booked up a year in advance, so, you know, the early bird catches the worm, and carpe diem, and once more into the breach, and yada-yada-yada…. So I been thinking about it this past week or so, and here’s what I come up with: I’m thinking this is the last one. Just from a practical and logical standpoint: I mean, I know 50-year ReUnions do happen, but c’mon…what would that be like? 12 people showing up for a brunch date? I don’t mean to denigrate 50-year high school reunions, but there comes a time…. So, they asked me to reach out to y’all to gauge interest in this our 40th (last?) ReUnion so we could reserve the right-sized ballroom. I don’t much care for polls; I said expressed interest/disinterest this early will probably not be that credible or actionable. I mean, I say today I am going to do such and such tomorrow and tomorrow comes and I’m like: I don’t think so. So I said no thanks to the poll. But I began thinking outside of the box a bit. Marriott? Hyatt? I don’t know…does it have to be like that? What about a cool bar/restaurant, in a beach or lakeside community, somewhere, anywhere: NY, NJ, DE, RI, VA, NC, GA, FL, East Coast…or not? Heck, even a decent sized house, manse, or club would get it done. It only has to fit about 50 to 75 people. Lots of places can handle that. I’m pretty sure we used to get 75 into Farley’s living room back in the day… October is just about off-season in most water-side communities. Prices might be reasonable. Weather usually is, too. Cater it locally, simply. No overhead for waiters, staff, security, etc. Same for booze. Keep it simple. No closing time. Come when you want, leave same. Informal atmosphere might be a nice change. Walk on the beach. Sit on the deck. Dance in the sand. The point is to see and converse with each other again, right? (I find hotel ballrooms among the least conducive places for that….) Music would be free, wireless. I know ten guys with the right play list for people our age. No 25-year old DJ to find and pay, and argue about the volume and song selection with. Breakfast next morning at the local diner. If the food stinks, and the drink runs out, if the music don’t work, we’ll still have a nice time at the beach. Could be the last, best party for ’78. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I just got summer and water and the seashore on my mind. Anyway, just thinking out loud here… If you know a cool place that could get it done, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl Gross, Dana Seagraves, Michelle Gaines, The Jersey Shore c.1976
Dateline: Tuesday October 29, 2013. 07:44h. The 35th ReUnion is a full two weekends past now, approaching three. Enough time perhaps for (some) of the magic of that night to fade; I emphasize “some”…definitely not all. In retrospect, I’m convinced that these gatherings are well worth the effort, the time and the expense to attend. This particular ReUnion, our 35th, saw many, many people hesitate before deciding to come. Really hesitate: most people paid for their tickets in the last few weeks leading up to the event. Several decided to come at the very last minute, literally emailing and calling about it the day of. Others just arrived at the door that night, unsure about the whole thing until they walked in. (A few even tried, and failed, to book a flight to NY that morning.) The reasons for hesitating were universal; it is always the same, for all of us: “Who do I really want to see there, anyway”… “Who there really wants to see me, anyway”… “There’s just too much going on right now”… “That’s a lot of money to spend, period”…. “It’s all too far in the past; high school was over a long, long time ago”… “I gotta work, strike now while the iron is hot”… “Too many people gonna be there; I don’t like crowds”… “I’ve got something else going on that weekend. Sorry, can’t come.” I can honestly tell you that most, if not all of the above, (and more) applied to me. And then the night comes, almost suddenly. It is something unique. It doesn’t happen at college, or business, or other reunions the way it does at a high school reunion. For one thing, it isn’t really a high school reunion. It is misnamed. It is a grade school, middle school, Cub Scout/Brownie/CCD/Hebrew School, little league and old stomping grounds-neighborhood reunion, too. And so much happens to one during those so-called “formative” years, so much concentrated glee and joy, change and pain, fun and turmoil, hope and despair, that it isn’t even a legitimate comparison to other types of ‘reunions’. And I must tell you, to see these people after so long a time…all different, yet all the same. Changed, yet unchanged. Wearing the same fears and apprehensions on their face as must have been evident on mine. They have exactly the same look as they did in 5th grade. And they exhibit exactly the same wear and tear as me, right now. Nothing has really changed. (Nothing significant really ever does change). And when you lay your eyes on them, and they lay their eyes on you, all of those fears melt away, simultaneously. It is memory stirred. It is all that is in your past, back again right in front of you, right here, right now. It’s really kind of miraculous. My good Friend, Patti Engel, wrote something to me about the ReUnion that I think sums the whole thing up very nicely. (Patti has been through the wringer lately, to put it mildly; she had some serious misgivings about attending this ReUnion). Here’s what she wrote: “J, It was a helluva party. I truly was a bit apprehensive about coming and got hit by an overwhelming feeling of loss the week leading up to the reunion. Suddenly cognizant of all the changes that had occurred in the last five years and in the previous five weeks, I was knocked to my knees. I spend so much of my energy pretending to be strong and every once in a while the masque slips and my vulnerable heart is exposed. The love that I felt last weekend both surprised and chastened me. The hugs alone have replenished my Soul. What astounds me still is the wonderful Friends I have made among our classmates since we graduated. Each reunion I meet new friends and discover new connections and gather strength from new memories. High school was only four years long, but those memories, and the memories from the reunions, are forever. With Love, Patti.”
There it is.
Believe it or not, we have started planning our 40th ReUnion. It is going to occur on Columbus Day weekend, 2018. Here’s the Hope: lots of people who came to this (35th) ReUnion came for the first time; it was their very first reunion. It was a slightly different and unique crowd, and that is part of what made this gathering so, so special. We hope, and intend, for the same people to come to the 40th, together with those who missed this one. And it will be the biggest ReUnion, and the best Class of ’78 gathering...ever. Please mark your calendars now.
Front to Back: Patti Lee and George Vaselekos, Mary Chauvin and John Gaccione, Mary Ann Pfeiffer and KD, Barbara Rome and Chris McGinnis.
Dateline: 16:03h. Sunday October 13, 2013. The day after.
Listen: I left relatively early last night (01:45h) but I'm hearing of this thing running on until after 05:00h... How in the world does anyone our age do that anymore?!
My own observations are that the 35th ReUnion was...kind of special.
I felt the vibe as soon as people began to gather in the cocktail-reception area. It felt...kind of different than reunions past. There was a very definite "buzz" going on in that room.
But it's hard for me to be objective about it; I'm just too darn involved with the whole thing.
I was with the group on Friday night in Tarrytown for the Pre-ReUnion get together. I thought it was extremely cool. ("Totally Chill" as my daughter would say.) Pam Hitt was there. Others, too, who could not make it the following night. It was a nice taste of things to come and left everyone feeling very, very good; definitely kicked things off on the right foot for us.
I heard of a thrilling double-overtime high school football game on Friday night up in Brewster, where the son of one of my favorite classmates, no, my absolute favorite classmate, led his team to a remarkable victory (over Lakeland, no less) in front of another contingent of ReUnion go-ers. (Proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) I heard of kickball games up at the Croton Dam on a beautiful, sunshiny Saturday afternoon. Kickball. Croton Dam. I LOVE that.
I heard of groups of people seeing the sights up and down the beautiful Hudson Valley--Lyndhurst, West Point, Vanderbilt Mansion, Kykuit, Caramoor, Boscobel--best time of year to do so.
I saw a lot of people dancing for a long time on Saturday night. A lot of people, for a long time... I was there when they turned on all the lights in the ballroom at 01:00h in an effort to kick us out (a half hour after the DJ left, the open bar shut down, and the official venue closing time), and nobody left for another full hour. The place was humming with conversation. They literally began locking the exit doors around us.
But again, it's hard for me to be objective about it.
I only hope you had as much fun as I did this weekend. Thank you ALL for coming.
Jerry and Richie 1978
Jerry and Richie at the 35th ReUnion. Better than ever.
Nouns of Assemblage:
a gang of elk
a murmuration of starlings
a wilderness of monkeys
a clutch of eggs
a coven of witches
a staff of servants
a field of runners
a sheaf of arrows
a cete of badgers
a bench of bishops
a murder of crows
a barren of mules
a muster of peacocks
a stud of mares
a parliament of rooks and owls
a business of ferrets
a nye of pheasants
a sounder of wild boar
-Schott's Original Miscellany
Lincoln Titus 4th Grade. Courtesy of John Hintze
The Walter Panas High Class of 1978
35th ReUnion is ON:
SATURDAY October 12, 2013
7:30 p.m. to ?
DoubleTree by Hilton™
455 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591
will occur throughout
The Columbus Day Holiday Weekend
(see "WPHS '78 35th ReUnion!!"
Tab for further details)
Panas vs Lakeland October 1977
Dateline: Tuesday September 24, 2013 09:44h
This a quick update as we continue the countdown to The Walter Panas High Class of 1978 35th ReUnion on Saturday October 12
First, thank you for your remarkable response! Ticket sales continue to soar with the ReUnion just 18 days away. People have said we had (have) a tight-knit class. Frankly I thought it was just so much hyperbole, but I am seeing it play out right before my eyes: the responses to the email blasts; individual classmates reaching out to each other after so much time apart; the number of website hits; the Facebook traffic; everything…it is simply fantastic. Thank You!!
I had two interesting conversations this weekend which I thought worth sharing; one was with my wife, another with a ’78 classmate.
The classmate reached out to me with a series of questions and concerns. She is severely on the fence about coming to the ReUnion. She’s not sure if it’s the right time: money, health, travel, kids—all figure into the equation for her. She’s having a tough time; let’s just say that life isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries right now. She is also concerned about seeing a large group of people she hasn’t seen in 30+ years. She is more than a little frightened about what will happen when/if she walks in that ballroom door.
Which ties right in to the conversation I had with my wife:
Her: “What are you doing? You didn’t even like high school…other than your silly little website you are completely out of touch with these people. You don’t even really know them anymore... You hate crowds, you’re introverted and anti-social…Why are you doing this?”
Me: “Thanks, Hon.”
But she raises a valid point: besides much (all?) of what she said being true…why am I going? It got me thinking, and here’s what I came up with (after some pondering):
The ‘present’ can be painful, in more ways than one: our kids are about to, or actually are, leaving home. Our parents are about to, or actually are, leaving…earth. Work isn’t getting any easier, at all. The body, to put it mildly, is rapidly changing. I look in the mirror in the morning and I’m like “who the %*#$! is that!?” (Can someone please tell me what a skin tag is?).
The ‘future’ is a bit scary; it also can hurt some (or the thought of it can. Retirement? I don’t think so…)
They call the 50’s middle age, but it’s really a bit later than that. In clock terms, noontime is the middle of the day. At 53, we’re really talking about after-dinner-drinks…it’s somewhere between desert and bedtime. And we all know we can’t turn the clock back. Or can we...?
I’m going to my 35th ReUnion because I can. Here’s what is going to happen: I will drive up to the venue on that Saturday night. I’m going to have butterflies (that doesn’t happen too often these days); I’m gonna be nervous, but a good nervous. I will walk into that hotel, and look around for our ballroom. I’ll see a face, in the lobby or parking lot, a familiar face from the distant past. And my heart will flip-flop: I will remember. And when I open the door to that ballroom it will be full of similar faces, faces of friends that I knew a long time ago, and always will know. There will be faces I knew from grade school, and from little league, and from the neighborhood, and from high school, and elsewhere…
And I will be Home, again. And I promise you, I will be amazed at the outpouring of affection, and friendship, and love. I’ve been there, and I know.
And that is why I’m going, and that is why I am doing what I do.
Hope to see you there
4th Grade Class Trip, 1970, Vanderbilt Mansion (l-r): Mark Connor, Mike Donnellan, Lynn Denike, Mike Littleton, Matty Moro, Mark Johnson, Soos, Ronnie Sadler
Holalpahabetic Sentences (Also know as Pangrams, these are sentences containing every letter of the alphabet, of particular interest to typographers when browsing fonts):
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex.
How piqued gymnasts can level six jumping razorback frogs.
We promptly judged antique ivory buckles for the next prize.
Sixty zippers were quickly picked from the woven jute bag.
Jump by vow of quick, lazy strength in Oxford.
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz.
-Schott's Original Miscellany
Donna Duchene, Karen Vangor, Jill Tully, Rosemary Repicky
The WPHS ’78 ReUnion Committee recently held a very important, closed-door, high-level, incredibly-stressful, nail-biting, hair-raising, desk-thumping, chair-throwing meeting ....NOT!!!
In short, we had very little to do or say; it was essentially over in about five minutes because the deal is done
Here’s a little update as we fast approach our Walter Panas High School Class of 1978 35th ReUnion (And I mean fast!):
The bar is stocked.
The food is ordered.
The music is picked.
The decorations are designed.
The ballroom is ours (best in the house).
The DJ is primed and ready.
A WPHS ’78 FaceBook page is up and going strong.
Ticket sales are rolling in. It's gonna be good
One important announcement: Our ticket-taker and order-maker (Andy “Dre” Ward) is traveling for business at the end of September through early October. He’s a titan of industry, don’t you know. In order to finalize the number of seats, tables, food, drink, name-tags, party favors, after-party room size, etc., we will need a total head count before Andy gets on that jet plane (private plane?). We therefore need your ticket order(s) by the following dates: if by Check/USPS mail: received before September 30 (that means mail it now, please); if by PayPal, before October 1. Please don’t wait until the last minute: We cannot sell tickets at the door at this venue!
P.S.: If you know of anyone who hasn’t heard about The ReUnion, SPREAD THE WORD NOW!
Please join us. The more the merrier. All are welcome!
You can wait until our 40th ReUnion, if you want. But these are just the facts: You are going to be even older, you probably won't look any better, and it definitely ain't gonna be any easier
Dateline: Monday morning, 06:12h July 22, 2013.
I’m sitting here at my computer (obviously), pondering things past, present and future, and I notice once again that my posture is so awful…no, no, I mean I realize that our 35th Class of 1978 Walter Panas High ReUnion is a scant three months away. The way my life has been going, three months is equal to about three minutes. I blink and “Boom!” it’s tomorrow. I yawn and “Bang!” a week has gone by. I hiccup and “Wham!” it's next month. I sneeze and, and, and…get the picture?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. I’m so glad, in this particular case, that there is real truth in the phrase “Tempus Fugit”.
[Academic interlude: Tempus Fugit is a Latin expression meaning “time flees”, more commonly translated as “time flies”. Frequently used as an inscription on clocks, it is from the poem Georgics by the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil): 'Sed fugit interea, fugit irreparabile tempus, singular dum capti circumvectamur amore', which translates as: “But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail”.]
“Prisoners of our love of detail”…how very true. On the one hand, we don’t have that much choice: there are certain things we all must do in any and every 24 hour measure. On the other hand (thankfully) we each make our own choices. No man can choose for another.
So, (I bet you know where this is going) let’s not be ‘prisoners of our love of detail’ for one small twenty-four hour interlude, at least: October 12, 2013. Let’s get together then, let’s be free, let’s have some fun. We’ll all take a fond look back; we’ll have a good look at the now; we’ll have a peek, perhaps a glimpse forward, of the future.
I hope to see you there
Tommy Scordato and Mike Perrelle: The Bonfire
Miriam Popp's T-Bird: Miriam, Linda Ekizian, Karen Russo
Michie Stadium Spring 1978 (l-r): Richie Mellone, Kenny Dahl, Tony Maresco, Richie Bobik, Ralph Fasano, Jimmy Fleitz
35th ReUnion Celebration Announced (That's Right: 35th)
Dateline: December 31, 2008, 13:34h
In an unprecedented move, we've decided to start planning our 35th High School Reunion now. That's right, five years before-hand.
Please allow me to explain:
You see, we had our 30th Reunion just a couple of months ago and, well, frankly it blew us away. It was simply too much fun.
Our plan was simple. We'd keep it to the basics; nothing fancy. We threw up a website, kinda haphazardly. Made some calls to those contacts each of us still had. We figured we'd get together the night before the reunion at a local pub. And then perhaps an informal after-party the night of the gig. Simple.
And then the thing took off! The website grew organically, and put all sorts of friends back in touch with each other. The Friday night Pre-Party, the Reunion, the After-Party, well, they're already the stuff of legend. I mean, you just had to be there...it really was spectacular.
So here we go again. Except this time, we cannot wait ten years. Just can't do it. There's gonna be a 35th Reunion for The Walter Panas High Class of 1978. We're spreading the word now.
Here's what we're going to do: the website will remain live. We've added a couple of interactive elements to keep it all as current as possible. Have fun with it. Check out the "Missing Classmates" page: let's try and track down those friends we couldn't locate this time around, make the Party even bigger and better. (J.W., where are you?)
We do need your input on one very important issue: what time of year would you all like to have this Party? We've traditionally done it on Thanksgiving Weekend. Now, with our own kids entering college and coming home for the big weekend, plus the holiday-weekend-travel-headaches, plus possibly having to host Thanksgiving ourselves, we realize it may not be the best time to do it anymore. Then again, it may be...
We have the time to figure it out, so let's do it. Give us your preference via the Message Board: (1)Thanksgiving Weekend; (2) Summertime; or (3) a non-holiday weekend in the Fall.
It's your call.
Clockwise from lower left: Ray Scalone, Anthony Graci, Mark Galgani, Miriam Popp, Linda Ekezian, Glenn O'Neill, Donna Duchene, Debi McCormack, Kenny DaRos, Pam Hitt
True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country. Kurt Vonnegut, quoted in TheBookReporter.com
The Aqueduct (L-R): Tommy Scordato, Jimmy Keegan, John Gaccione, Bill Haviland, John Hintze, Kevin Flood, Casey Stengle, Bill Foley, Shawn Mackey
Let Wall Street have a nightmare and the whole country has to help them back in bed again. Will Rodgers