Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Mystery Tour, October 18, 2010

Logo for the Proviso East High School Pirates mascot

I've been away for a few days and I want to mention a little something about my trip. I went down to the Chicago suburbs and met up with a few old friends from high school. Not a school reunion as they go, but rather a few people, some who knew some better than others, but friends from school more or less. 2010 saw Proviso East High School commemorating 100 years of existence with an all-school reunion. There were some activities, but no one I knew was planning to go. Then one of my friends, a great gal named Kathy, rounded up some folks and got us to gather at the 2010 Homecoming football game and escape to a local hangout after.

My high school Alma Mater in Maywood, IL

Proviso ended up losing the contest against Morton, 28 to 14, but we had fun cheering and visiting in the stands. I knew there was going to be a gathering and I wanted to go, but waited until the last minute to decide I was actually going. When I got a couple of calls asking if I would be there, I quickly threw a few things in a bag and jumped in the Focus. I made the 7+ hour trip on Friday and arrived on Saturday morning after a motel stop in Janesville, WI.

Saturday morning I had breakfast at a place I hadn't eaten in since probably 1967, the Harlo Grill. I lived less than a block from Harlo. In the early days, my Mom would give me a dollar and I would get a hamburger, fries and a chocolate malt and have change. Harlo opened its doors in 1953. I would get to eat lunch "out" about once a month. I always went to the Harlo Grill.

Harlo Grill on North Avenue in Melrose Park, IL

The breakfast was so-so, for sure not as big and hearty as I remembered, but the place looked the same. I enjoyed the nostalgic return to my old neighborhood and just walking into the place brought back a flood of memories of my childhood as I lived in Melrose Park pretty much since I was two years old. I didn't leave until I got drafted in 1968.

From Harlo Grill, I cruised where I lived and where I went to elementary school. I went to the cemetery to see the new headstones that were placed for my Mom and Dad. My Mom passed this past year. Dad has been gone for quite some time. I said hello to their spirits and snapped a picture of their markers.

An old friend called, a fellow I have known since third grade. We met for lunch at a place of his choosing and talked for a couple of hours. I probably hadn't seen Marc since high school. It was a grand visit as we rekindled our friendship. After that, I fought traffic and made my way to my Alma Mater, Proviso East High School, home of the Pirates.

I navigated my way to the grandstands and looked for my friends. It was then that I saw Kathy, the great ring leader and organizer, standing and waving at me. I climbed up the stands and was greeted by a cheer. I just couldn't believe where I was and what I was doing and who I was with. A little overwhelmed, I settled in and started talking non-stop with people I remembered, remembered me or didn't remember except for their name.

Some friends I met at the Homecoming game. The people here might look a little old, but we were all young at heart this particular Saturday afternoon

Folks started to peel off and head to the gathering place right after the celebrated Proviso East High School marching band performed. They were great! Marching, dancing and drumming. I failed to take a picture or get the motion picture function on my camera to chronicle the event, but here is a stock photo of the band showing the blue and white school colors.

Proviso East High School Marching Band, 2009
We went to a local watering hole called Doc Ryan's in Forest Park. When I got drafted in 1968, the induction center was in Forest Park. I felt like I completed a big circle to return here after almost 43 years. We stood around and talked, drank and nibbled appetisers for a few hours. Folks started to peel off and I found myself left with about a half dozen old friends. Since we decided no one wanted to attend the huge expensive all-school reunion banquet at a fancy hotel, people made other plans for Saturday evening. I left for home.

During my drive, my cell phone rang and it was Kathy, the school chum that planned the small impromptu gathering. She wanted to know if I had a good time. I gave her a resounding thumbs up and thanked her. The next morning when I got home, I found a message on my Facebook page from Kathy and some new "Friend" requests from my old classmates. All in all a very nice weekend and some memories galvanized in my mind. Next time they get together might be some time away, but I plan on being there. I wonder why I waited so long to get involved, but that's no matter. I found that even if it was just a few of the 900 plus in our graduating class, I was remembered, and I remembered them. We are all aging together and still laughing at ourselves from an era long ago.

Overall, I had a great time of it. I have never attended a reunion of any kind. I was delighted to be asked to attend and honored to be back amongst folks I attended high school with from what seems like a very long time ago.



Mel said...

I've never been..... I don't even know if they have 'em any more. My graduating class was a bit over a hundred--and I'd be hard pressed to give four names from high school. Sad, huh?

I'm amazed when folks reconnect or stay connected with school chums/classmates. I'm sure there's memories that come into play for most folks--things shared, times remembered even if separately experienced.

It looks to be a happy crew, even with the loss of the game (dangit!). What a grand adventure you had. And how nice that folks want to remain connected!

katherine. said...

I have a handful of friends from high school I still email with now and again. One or two I am still in close contact with.

I've been to a couple reunions. They were a bit odd for me.

english inukshuk said...

I'm so glad you had such a good time!

(I've never been to a school reunion - but am still in touch with the friend I made on the first day of uni)


Spadoman said...

This comment appeared on my Facebook page today:

I read this Joey joe spado....with tears in my eyes..... I have to say i did wonder if you were going to come... after talking to you many times about the old wondering if anyone would even remember you... your insecurities lost and i prevailed!!....friendship is golden and the beauty of growning up when we did , with whom , and the era , has made a mark on many. Our class and sourounding classes will always remain close. We are bonded like no other..... rich, poor, black , white - we are blessed to have the friendships.... we can pick up where we left off - and i know from many a gathering a big huge smile remains on our faces for days after ...... Thank u for coming - another reason to keep my smile big and bright for days to come :)

Spadoman said...

I also received this comment on my Facebook page from Ken:

Hi Joey, ... Beautiful words.
I couldn't agree more. Friends reunite best dressed in blue jeans relaxing over a few drinks at a place like Doc Ryan's.

susan said...

It's funny but I was just thinking to write you the same as Mel has done so well.

The high school I attended was too far from my home for me to ever get involved in the kind of after school activities where many made life long friendships. So when the school plays were rehearing I was on the big yellow bus heading home where there were no local friends either.

I ended up dating guys who were old enough to own their own cars. That kind of situation never ends well, does it? It didn't for me, anyway, and that was when I began my travels by going to Europe for art school and assorted adventures.

I'm glad to read you had such a sweet time reconnecting with old friends who still love and remember you.


Christopher said...

Great account, Spadoman. Glad you had such a good time. These events are really heart-warming and uplifting (if they don't happen too often) and I'm sure your old friends got as much pleasure from seeing you as you did from seeing them.


mig said...

It's lovely to meet old friends after so long.
I never went to a reunion either having been to a fair number of different schools around the country and I'm always touched by tales of people who lived in one place for long enough to make lasting friendships. It's one of the great joys of my adult life, that I've stayed in the same area long enough to do that, finally.
So glad you had good time :)

Unknown said...

The only ones who don't old to me are the kids in the band, in blue!

So nice that you have common ground with a few good people.

My U.S. hometown of Ludlow, Massachusetts has very little left of the things I remember and enjoyed: no more Miller's Dairy Bar or Dave's Variety. :-(

I enjoyed this post a lot.

Love and Peace,

Spadoman said...

Thank you all for your comments, and for comingn here to read what I have to say. I appreciate it.

Peace to all.