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Members of WMHS Class of 1980, shown above at a prior reunion, will get to celebrate their 40th reunion one year later on July 31. Photo from Lesley Hunter

As pandemic restrictions lift, more leisurely activities are showing up on people’s calendars, among them high school reunions.

Members of WMHS Class of 1980, shown above at a prior reunion, will get to celebrate their 40th reunion one year later on July 31. Photo from Lesley Hunter

For one Ward Melville High School class, it’s all about plus one. Toward the end of 2019, members of the Class of 1980 began planning their 40th reunion. A few months later, planning came to a stop due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now the class is gearing up for their 40+1 reunion at Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa in Port Jefferson, July 31.

The class was one that grew up during a time when the area saw an increase in population with people arriving due to jobs at the recently built Stony Brook University and the construction of homes in the alphabet section of Stony Brook.

Charlie Lefkowitz, who along with fellow former classmates Kim Keady, Lesley Hunter and Paul Magidson is planning the reunion, said with members of the planning committee living across the country, a lot of planning was already being conducted using email, phone and Zoom.

Lefkowitz said at the beginning of last year, they began to see the slowdown in responses. Even though New York State lifted restrictions slightly at the beginning of last summer, the committee knew the 50-person limit wouldn’t be enough to accommodate everyone and people from out of state wouldn’t be able to make it.

“Pulling the plug was not a very hard decision, because a lot of people were coming from, especially in California and from Massachusetts, states that were so restrictive,” Lefkowitz said.

While they tossed around the idea of canceling the reunion altogether, they finally decided to plan a reunion for 2021.

Keady, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, said it helped that their former classmates had trust in them that they could pull it off.

“We were really lucky because our classmates just had faith in holding steady and pausing, and they just trusted us,” she said.

“People have lost folks and been very fearful for good reason during this time. I think that gratitude levels are going to be really high.”

— Kim Keady

Lefkowitz said while there are still some people who can’t attend due to other events or health reasons, in the last few months the response has been overwhelming with more than 100 attending so far. He added that planning was still touch and go at first at the beginning of the year because even though restrictions were being lifted, there were still some state-mandated requirements at the time such as no dancing and wearing masks when not eating. He said once the number of vaccinations increased and the infection rate decreased the group became more optimistic.

“Everyone’s saying it’s 40+1,” he said. “We’re one year older and one year wiser.”

Hunter, who will be traveling from California, said a friend who is an epidemiologist looked at the venue to check out the airflow in the party room, and they are making sure Danfords keeps the doors of the room open. She indicated it made the decision to go ahead easier after their friend looked at the room.

“She said you don’t know what’s going to happen next year,” Hunter added. “It’s the best as we know it could be this summer.”

Keady said she believes the reunion will be even sweeter.

“People have lost folks and been very fearful for good reason during this time,” she said. “I think that gratitude levels are going to be really high.”

The reunion will include a memorial event the night before at West Meadow Beach for those who have passed through the decades followed by drinks and cocktails at The Bench in Stony Brook, one of their former hangouts. Keady and Hunter added that the Class of 1981 has been invited to join them, too, making it not only “plus one” for the added year but the added class.

For more information, visit www.wmhsclassof80.com.

So much for well made plans. It was to be a milestone high school reunion this past weekend, a classmate was coming from Denver to stay with me, and we would attend the reunion together. I have known her since seventh grade, and for whatever reasons apparent only to middle school kids, we had nicknamed each other then “Salmon” and “Clambroth.” We giggled about that over our cellphones, temporarily traveling back in time 60 years, as we arranged the logistics for the coming event.

She had been one of the shortest girls in the class and I was one of the taller, so our classmates inevitably referred to us as “Mutt & Jeff” as we walked the halls. Would anyone besides us remember that? More than 50 women out of the original 225 in our all-girls school were coming into New York City or already there, and it promised to be a grand gathering.

My friend was already flying east Thursday morning when I climbed out of the shower and fell on my back in the bathroom. The pain was sharp and immediate. In an instant the much-anticipated weekend evaporated before my eyes. Never mind the weekend. I was going to be lucky if the bones on the left side of my body — my shoulder, elbow, forearm, ribs and hip — weren’t broken. None of the surfaces in the bathroom are forgiving, and I had cracked against the wall of the tub. The vision of walking into reunion was replaced by my coming home from the hospital in a body cast.

I realized I was screaming as I lay on the ceramic floor and had been for a number of seconds to no avail. There was no one else home. I screamed some more, just because I could, then began the miles-long crawl to my bedroom. For some unaccountable reason, I thought I would feel much better if I could get into my bed. Silly me, I couldn’t even stand. Nor could I stop shaking. I was able to pull the phone off the table, however, and I called a dear friend who fortunately was home and had rescued me before. Together we drove to the hospital.

That was only a 10-minute trip, but I felt every pebble and bump in the road. The hospital personnel were wonderful. They wheeled me into the emergency room, and after some inevitable paperwork but not much of a wait, I was helped onto a bed between two curtains and my date of birth corroborated several times with the paper bracelets on my wrist. An empathetic physician’s assistant greeted me and asked what had happened. Then came the X-rays.

Of course they were going to X-ray the places that hurt, and I tried not to scream during the many rearrangements of my body. The process seemed to go on forever although I had no idea of time, and then it was over. I joined my angelic friend between the two curtains and squirmed in bed, searching for a pain-free
position as we waited for the results.

The PA came with good news and bad news. My shoulder, elbow, arm and hip were badly bruised but not broken. In fact they were already turning colors of the rainbow amid the swelling. But my back, the area of greatest pain, had what seemed like a new compression fracture. I had endured that trauma before, and the PA couldn’t be sure it was a new or old injury. And there wasn’t much the PA could do except recommend a painkiller, preferably Tylenol, and send me home.

Imagine the reaction of my Denver friend when she completed the 2,000 mile trip to my house, only to find me laid out in my living room and still shaking. She did go the different events of reunion weekend, and through her descriptions and the texts and emails from those gathered, I was able vicariously to enjoy hearing what they talked about. I think before the next milestone reunion, I won’t shower.

The rock is from the Huntington class of 1966's 40th reunion and it sits at the high school campus outside the back entrance. Photo from Lucille Buergers

Huntington High School’s past is raising money for its future.

On a night in September, the Huntington High School class of 1966 will be coming together for two very good reasons. They will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their graduation, but they will also be raising funds that will go to the class of 1966 reunion scholarship, which will award a current senior $1,966.

Lucille Corcoran Buergers, a member of the class and one of the organizers of the event, said the recipient of the scholarship won’t necessarily be an honor student, but rather a student who has overcome obstacles and has ambitious plans for the future. The scholarship winner will be selected later this year.

The Huntington class of 1966 reunion cap and t-shirt, which will be sent to those that make a $66 donation. Photo from Lucille Buergers
The Huntington class of 1966 reunion cap and t-shirt, which will be sent to those that make a $66 donation. Photo from Lucille Buergers

Huntington High School students are in the process of crafting essays, with the winner to be selected by the high school’s general scholarship committee.

In 1966, the world was just being introduced to the Beatles, the United States was still coping with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War was in full swing. Buergers, who attended Woodstock, said in a phone interview that the tumultuous events of the 1960s impacted the lives of people who were growing up at that time forever.

“People I know started to question the establishment,” Buergers said. She said that she went into social work to help people endure with life’s stresses.

The reunion will be at the Huntington Country Club. Buergers said the committee organizing the reunion believes about 150 of the 526 graduates from the class of ’66 will be in attendance so far. They are still working to locate more graduates.

“Our classmates have gone on to become successful businessmen/women, educators, entrepreneurs, other professionals, and overall good citizens,” Buergers said. “Overall the consensus is that Huntington was an ideal place to have grown up and those that have moved away are eager to return and revisit the many places that hold special meaning to them…many fond memories that we have of a time that we will always cherish.”

There will also be a silent auction at the event with works from the class of 1966. Buergers said three painters, a stained glass artist, a photographer, a basket weaver, a jewelry maker, a quilter and an author have all agreed to donate works for auction.

Tickets will be $95 at the door, though they will be less expensive if purchased in advance. Any members of the class of 1966 who have not yet purchased tickets are advised to visit huntingtonhighalumni.org.