I graduated from Archbishop O'Leary High School in 1978. Over the years I have stayed in touch with a few, but not many of the 440 odd people who graduated in the same year. In October we are having a hall party to celebrate our 35th reunion.
Our class is in no way unique from those who went before or came after, we have a collection of lawyers, plumbers, consultants and in my case a one term MLA. It wasn't being an MLA that garnered any one's attention, we had long before had semi monthly reunions at a local pub and had, as a group, taken up the cause of helping one of our own finance the Zamboni treatment.
It's a lot of fun to sit and chat with your friends and acquaintances from that long ago, in a school of 1,500 kids, most of us knew about 100 and were friends with maybe 25, more if you were a jock or a cheer leader, but most of the time, it's meeting strangers you have not seen for 35 years and you are only meeting now because they have not met you for 35 years either.
We all changed, a little greyer, fatter, more glasses, grand kids and marriages, but then 35 years is a long time and while nostalgia is one thing, a common bond of, for lack of a better word, safety, prevails.
North Edmonton did not produce a lot of monied families, most of us were raised poor, working class but taught to fend for ourselves and never realized that we were doing without. By and large people continue to live the lives of their parents, maybe with a little more square footage and bathrooms but ultimately the same kind of jobs, dreams and more importantly, expectations.
We were the sons and daughters of Firemen, Bus Drivers, Grocers, Factory workers and our parents sent us to Catholic school because we were raised the best way they knew how. As I drive to my house in Kensington, I drive by Angie's old place, Pauline's old place and Lang's grocery store. The Lang family still own the store, Pauline's home and family business P&H foods is gone and Angie's family long ago moved away. And I don't care because I will always call the white house Angie's, the building on 127 ave. Pauline's and while it's not called Len's Wellington Tom Boy anymore, Shop Easy foods on 132 ave. and 132 street is still open for business.
None of this mattered to me, really, until I ran for office in 2008 and realized that this really was my home and quite often I met the parents of the kids I went to school with. This was troubling at times for in addition to not being the best student, I also tended to get into my fair share of trouble.
What it really did was make me realize how important those years were to my development and what a phenomenal impact my peers had on making me who I am. I've written about the Spartan Class of 78 before and I probably will again, right after October 7th when I get to see everyone at the 35th reunion.
If you are a 78 Spartan, get off your ass and come out to the party.