My wife and I are 1958 graduates of Blue Island Community High School, now Eisenhower. Last weekend, with more than 100 other former classmates, we celebrated our 50th class reunion on the old campus and at the Doubletree Inn in south suburban Alsip.
It was an eye-opening experience in several respects. Many of us hadn't seen each other since we graduated so it was a wonderful time to renew old acquaintances and catch up on the life stories of so many who came from California, Arizona, Montana, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York to be part of the event.
It began on Friday with a tour of the old school, a pizza party and the Oak Lawn/Eisenhower homecoming football game and extended to a Saturday night dinner attended by 220 and a Sunday farewell brunch.
Principal Gary Rauch, as youthful and as energetic as his 1,800 students, greeted us in front of the main campus building. It doesn't look as old as it is. Imagine, the building was dedicated in 1950 by then Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was an old Army pal of H.L. Richards, our school superintendent who later built Richards High School in Oak Lawn.
The homecoming game was so much different from what we experienced in the 1950s. There was a Fourth of July-like fireworks display at halftime. The three-time state champion dance team performed its championship routine, the marching band was on key and the cheerleaders executed flips and jumps that were far cries from our "two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar" cheers of long ago. And the homecoming parade had a Rose Bowl-like flavor.
Through it all, what struck me most was a common theme. Even though Eisenhower lost to Oak Lawn 21-11, the kids were bubbling with excitement and enthusiasm. They had pep and spirit. They were involved. They wanted to be there. They were dressed in their school colors and the big crowd seems to be having a good time from start to finish.
All of us from the class of 1958 had a good time, too.