By Ed Forry
“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves,” James Agee wrote in “A Death in the Family.”
“You can never go home again.”
Well home again I did go last month, to a special gathering to observe the 50th anniversary of my graduation from high school. And my, what a time we had!
Mine was the class of 1962 from BC High (see photo at right), and last year the alumni staff reached to encourage us to make plans for our event. The high school has done a good job of keeping current addresses for many of us – we were a class of 289 graduates that June day in 1962 – and a few had stayed in touch with classmates.
One of our number, Ray Capobianco, is the proprietor of Cappy’s Tavern, a delightful little outpost in Wolcott Square, where Hyde Park, Readville, and Dedham meet, and it was there one day last October that a few of us gathered to begin making plans for a reunion.
After a brief meeting at the old high school, we began to follow a loose schedule of sessions at Cappy’s. We let the alumni staffers believe they were “working meetings,” but truthfully they were old-fashioned bull sessions. Someone brought along a yearbook, and we quickly realized that we all were unrecognizable from that 50-year-old senior class .
The planning group numbered less than 12: Mike Manning, Carl Johnson, Joe Galeota, Jim Rourke, Ray “Cappy” Capabianco, Gil Sullivan, John Jones, Bill McCarthy, Tom Gilarde, with all of us in our 67th or 68th year, and some of us still working or in the early years of retirement. Among us were teachers, accountants, a youth athletic referee, lawyers, a retired business owner, even a couple who had spent time preparing to be priests, before their life’s path led elsewhere.
The sessions, always intended to have the serious goal of reaching out and finding other classmates, inevitably turned into nostalgia-fests. Old friends meeting again after 50 years shared handshakes, hugs, and all sorts of long-remembered stories. That very first night at Cappy’s, the barmaid handled a long-distance call from Houston. It was Hubie Walsh saying he wished he could join us.
We Boston guys quickly learned to love these get-togethers. There were just two rules: no discussion of personal political views, and a limit of three minutes, – tops! – to grandchildren stories.
Over time, we were able to reach about half of our classmates; sadly, we learned that about 10 percent of our old mates were deceased.
Joe Galeota spoke by phone with Tim Sullivan, and reported, “He was close to death a number of years ago; his family was summoned before he was to be removed from the extraordinary means. After the plug was pulled, his heart kept on beating and even though it took him almost 15 months to return to normalcy, he did and even went on to teach high school calculus at a Georgia high school! Truly, the class of ‘62 has experienced at least one miracle!”
Our alma mater saved the best for last. The class of 1962 was invited to the stage last month as the class of 2012 received their diplomas. One by one, the ’62 grads mounted the stage and received a golden diploma. One of our class, Father Jim Savage, is a pastoral assistant at St. Paul Church in Harvard Square, and he delivered the benediction to the new graduates.
As my fellow grads lifted our arms in silent prayer for the class of 2012, Father Jim spoke:
“We the graduates of 1962 of the era of Moriarty, Mahoney, and Gilday, salute you the graduates of 2012, of the era of Hughes, Kemeza and Perry, and we ask God’s blessing upon you!
“May your focus be small, Zeroing in on those things that you can actually control – like your manners, your temper, your values and your spiritual growth. But may your acts be large, living lives: lavish in hope, extravagant in generosity, and ambitious in self-giving.
“May you learn to cope with failure, and delight in success. May you learn to get over it, get used to it, and get on with it: Get over your mistakes and your failures – learn from them and don’t get stuck in them
“Get used to it – life is filled with loose ends, unfinished business, and persons and things that disappoint.
“And get on with it – not only living but also living well and doing what is doable and doing it now.
“May in the future you find not only a job but your vocation. May your greatest joy and satisfaction meet the world’s greatest needs.
“And in the spirit of this Jesuit high school, may you always excel for the greater glory of God and under the blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit today and hereafter. Amen.”
Fifty years after graduation, I was home, safely home. Again.