SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Still Hazy After All These Years
By Dave Kiffer


July 16, 2007

Ketchikan, Alaska - The Ketchikan High School class of 1977 turned 30 a couple of weeks ago.

Actually, it really turned 30 in late May, but the 4th of July is the official reunion season around these parts.

Besides, I can't remember exactly which day it was we graduated. At the time, it seemed like the most important day in the history of the world, but looking back from the advanced age of 48, the whole thing seems, well, hazy.

I remember that Governor Hammond spoke, but I can't remember a word he said. I remember that there were other speeches and music and even a prayer or two (separation of church and state was a little less separate in those days).

jpg Class of 77

2007 Fourth of July Parade - Ketchikan
Class of 1977
Photograph by Carl Thompson

I did not stumble as I went up to receive my diploma, nor did I roller blade, do jumping jacks or walk on my hands like I have seen graduates do in recent years.

I remember it was very hot that day in the cavernous old Kayhi auditorium. Which is funny, because if I check the local weather reports for the last couple of weeks of May that year I see it was colder and wetter than normal.

So even my hazy recollections are unreliable. But - as always - I digress.

Leaving the halcyon remembrances of things past and getting back to the topic at hand - my 30th high school reunion - it seems the Class of 77 was a little late to be part of the "don't trust anyone over 30 crowd" so it doesn't have to worry about not trusting itself now that it has slipped over the hill.

In 1977, 2007 seemed an awful long way away anyway. A few of us probably looked ahead and wondered what it would be like in 2000 when we would all be 41.

That seemed very geriatric in 1977. I'm not sure any of us contemplated being 48 (and we won't even mention the big five oh, thank you very much).

In 1977, we were all just hoping to make it to our 10th reunion in 1987. It seemed like a long way away. Long after matriculating to college or the finishing room at the Pulp Mill.

Now that aspiration seems more than a little quaint. For most members of the Class of 77, our biggest current aspiration is to make it safely to breakfast each day without tearing, turning or twisting something important.

It's true that in our minds we still think we are 25 and forever young. But our bodies are practicing a different realpolitik. They say you're only as young as you feel, but right now my knees feel like they've been around since the Polk Administration.

Well, enough about me. Let's ask you about something about yourself. What do you think about me? It doesn't get any more "high school-ish" than that question,, eh?

Anyway, it seems to me there are some consistencies with every high school reunion and that includes both mine and any one you've attended recently or otherwise.

There's a clear pattern with reunions. Good, then bad, then good again, then really bad.

The 10th reunion is the time when everyone comes back and takes notice because frankly, it's never going to get any better than that.

People are still on the upswing in their careers and lives (they've all survived both starter houses and starter marriages and are on to the real thing!).

You look around the room and see that your classmates have not only survived but generally thrived. It's a good thing.

Sure all the high school jealousies are still fresh enough but just about everyone walks away from a 10th reunion with a certain degree of smugness (usually at the cheerleader who's gone to seed or the basketball star who is a greeter at Wal-Mart).

Besides since most folks are now living 3,000 miles away you can nod when they talk about the fancy car (it's a lease), the fancy job (the executive deputy assistant vice president!) or the trophy spouse (also a lease!!!). In all likelihood they actually are in the management program at McDonald's.

The 20th reunion is when the wheels come off.

The first thing you notice is that everyone else in the room has become their parents.

Jowls are increasing, joints are aching, hair is leaving the head and relocating to the ear and nose.

You want to keep circulating at the 20th reunion dinner, because if you sit down for too long it's too hard to hide the pained expression when you put your knees in motion again.

You also find yourself repeating "Oh, he's with his father in Des Moines" or "She's remarried and living on a Ashram in Oregon" too often.

Fortunately, the 30th reunion is not as bad, because you've had 10 years to accept the fact that you went to school with a lot of folks that got old a heck of a lot quicker than you.

Sure, a couple of them are already tossing - a little too cavalierly, I might add - that awful 'g' word about ("Yes, I have two grandkids!!") but overall you're in a pleasant holding pattern, most everyone is doing okay.

Sure a few of the folks are still trying to be as flirty and vivacious as they were 30 years previously, but in general you've accepted the fact that you all would have taken better care of your selves if you had of known you were going to live so long.

The 40th reunion is all bad news.

You have officially become your grandparents and spend the entire reunion discussing your new hips, your cancer surgery, and how much you like to watch "Matlock" and "Murder She Wrote" on television.

I haven't decided how the 50th reunion is going to turn out yet. Although I have some - obviously older! - friends who have experienced that one, I'm not sure if any members of the Class of 77 will make it that far.

After all, that would be 2027, "climate change" in Ketchikan could mean we will all have succumbed to skin cancer by then.

Or be under 10 foot higher ocean levels.

Or maybe just suffering from such slow mail service (and $10 stamps) that we are still waiting for our invitations to our 40th reunion.

It could happen.


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2007

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