Beginning with the 10-year reunion, we've been gathering every five years since we graduated from Camden High School in 1964. This year at least two of our classmates, Bill and Jim, returned for the first time, and it was Martha Sue's first reunion since the 10th.
On Friday night, Elaine's daughter and son-in-law hosted us at their house on Mustin Lake, a small lake near Camden where a number of local residents have weekend homes. Without the GPS, I'm not sure Susan and I would have found our way there even though as teenagers we spent many days at Mustin Lake swimming and just hanging out with friends. Back in the day, we didn't take senior trips to Disney World or Caribbean islands, but Mustin Lake was the scene of our senior outing.
Saturday several of us met for lunch at the location of the Duck Inn, another of our teenage hang outs. Now a Mexican restaurant, it just isn't the same. Once we started driving, we could leave school at noon, and Duck Inn was one of our favorite places to eat lunch. There was nothing better than Duck Inn homemade French fries dipped in their special homemade salad dressing.
After lunch Susan and I took a short driving tour of Camden. Most of the traffic lights, where we used to do Chinese fire drills, are gone from downtown. Watt's Department Store closed years ago, and Belk-Jones is now an antique mall.
We took a quick drive through the old high school campus. The main building is long gone, with the steps leading up from the street the only thing remaining. Coleman Stadium is still standing and looks pretty good, but the old gym where we held sock hops after every home football game is pretty run down.
We tried to find the homes where some of our friends had lived. Virginia's house on Clifton Street is for sale, and the Helen Street Grocery is now a residence. Incidentally, my grandfather named Helen Street for my mother's oldest sister when he helped develop that part of town.
Saturday night's banquet was at another familiar spot. Located on the Ouachita River, River Woods was once the Supervisors' Club, owned by International Paper Company and operated as a benefit for mill employees.
The Supervisors' Club played an indirect role in one of our biggest "crimes," a story that gets told at every reunion. When we were seniors, International Paper Company sponsored a day long outing to the Supervisors' Club for our class. I suggested that it might be fun if all of us brought alarm clocks that day to put in our lockers and set them all to go off at the same time. Plans were made, and we pulled it off, but Freddie Ann got blamed instead of me, and she won't let me forget it.
So now we are looking forward to our 50th reunion in just five short years. We all seem to get better with age, and we long ago stopped trying to impress each other. As I overheard one classmate say about another classmate, "She's so much fun; I wish I had hung out with her more."
Sometimes you just wish you could go back and do it all over again, this time with the wisdom of age.