Hollywood High Class of ’64 Reunion

(This is the sixth episode in Leslie’s fascinating “return to LA” saga. To track down the other stories SEARCH (top right) Leslie Clague. )

The museum and the library

By Leslie Clague

DSCN1501 HHS museumAnd then there was the reunion. It was the reason for coming to Los Angeles. It started with a tour of a recently developed small museum at the high school, adjacent to the school library.

The museum is still in development. It features exhibits of famous alumni, including Lana Turner, James Garner, Carol Burnett, Mike Farrell and even Fay Wray, from the class of ’25, the heroine of the original “King Kong.” Class photos line the walls and a small auditorium/stage is set up, for lectures and presentations.

DSCN1497 HHS libraryThe library, built in the 1920s, is beautiful, but alas I was told the school is not supporting it properly. The average age of books is 30 years old. The computers on offer for student use don’t work properly. The attitude, according to one alumnus who is planning to battle the situation, is that libraries are passé.

At the Santa Monica Beach Club

The main reunion was in the evening at the Santa Monica Beach Club, located on Pacific Coast Highway on the beach. Dress was encouraged as casual. As L.A. was in the midst of one of its classic September heat waves, with temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius, we looked forward to ocean breezes.

Sheri and I went early, having volunteered to help with the set up. We quietly sweated through decoration making for the 30 plus tables seating 10 to 11 each. Each table setting featured a small white bag containing a gift of a glass tumbler, imprinted with the reunion date and the logo of the school.

We were then the first on drinks duty, selling tickets for the bar. The task was great fun for seeing people you had not seen, in my case, for 50 years. Everyone had a name badge featuring their graduation picture which certainly helped in identifying people.

Mixing and Mingling

DSCN1503 reunionThen it was mix and mingle while a small trio played some background music. Then the buffet dinner, a presentation by the student body president from our time, more mix and mingle and then home.

I got a mention for being the alumnus who came the farthest. There is a former classmate who now lives in Australia, but at the last minute her husband became ill and she could not attend.

I was disappointed that there wasn’t a band after dinner. I had visions of doing The Twist and The Surfers’ Stomp. Although I got to see most of the people I wanted to see, there wasn’t the time to really inter-connect.

Those in attendance were looking good and had done well. I guess those who did not feel successful would not attend as U.S. culture is about ‘making it.’ Careers on tap included lawyers (lots of those), teachers, psychologists, movie industry professionals of course, a couple of journalists, some musicians and artists. I think I was the only librarian/library manager. One very special friend from the time did not attend and no one knows where she is today.

New Zealand: nice to get back

People did seem to know where New Zealand was, but most were amazed that I had spent more than half my life here. I was even told I had a slight accent, which delighted me.

Two or three are very keen to travel to New Zealand, but the great majority have never travelled outside the U.S. The insularity of U.S. citizens continues to amaze me.

Los Angeles homelessSo overall, it was a good trip, nice to make contact, L.A. looking better than I expected. Even the smog wasn’t too bad. The heat was terrific but that’s southern California.

The one real negative that does haunt is the number of homeless. Angelinos are good at not noticing them, but they are there with their bags of stuff. Some are very thin, others just look lost; some beg, others sleep on a piece of cardboard. A count of homeless in Los Angeles County in 2013 was around 57,000, second only to New York City.

I am glad to be home. I am glad to be a Kiwi.

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