My Personal High School Reunion
Jericho High School, class of 1976, had its 30th reunion last night. I didn’t attend, remaining on the fence until a few weeks back. While it would certainly be interesting and somewhat cool to see people I knew since kindergarten, the ones who meant the most to me would not be there.
Center to that crowd of absentees was Jeff Strell, who I’ve known since that first year of elementary school. We were tight and best friends right through high school, drifting towards different interests and careers as he attended Columbia and I went further away to Binghamton.
Jeff and I have kept in sporadic touch ever since but we have not been physically together for something like 18 years. When he indicated he wasn’t going, that the majority of the people he wanted to see, weren’t going to be there either, that sort of sealed things. Sure, it would have been nice to see Michelle Innelli who I had an odd friendship with since junior high. It might even have been fun to once more be the guy who is living out his childhood dream, still connected to the comics world, writing Star Trek and doing things that are cool.
But the friends who mattered most, starting with Jeff but certainly including Laura Greenberg, David Reed (so smart he left a year early), Dan Visentin, Peter Gentile and others, weren’t coming.
Not to waste a day marked on the calendar, the Strells and the Greenbergers held their own reunion. We went to their nice one bedroom apartment in Mineola (forever enshrined in my mind as Smallola thanks to the radio ads on the once great WLIR) and I marveled at the walls filled with custom made shelving to hold his ever-growing collection of vinyl LPs. He showed the wall containing every album ever rated an A or A- by the great critic Robert Christgau, dismissively waved his hand at the eclectic stuff and the deep jazz assortment.
We sat and started chatting, and as Deb put it later, it was like we hadn’t seen them in two months, not 18 years. The talk continued through the afternoon, and later all through dinner at a wonderful Portuguese restaurant just blocks away. It was everything a good reunion should be.
Sure, we tripped down memory lane, dissecting days that became turning points in our lives and the lives of our friends. We told stories from varying eras, reminding each other of details and delighting both women. Jeff and Debbie look the same, despite the passage of time, and it turns out we continue to share many of the same passions, from comics to baseball. In fact, like us, they never miss Opening Day at Shea, so we’ve been communing together all these years without realizing it.
I hope everyone attending the overpriced event in Uniondale had as good a time, but I kind of doubt it.