Sunday, June 3, 2012

Forty Years and Counting

I got invited to my 40th high school class reunion this summer.  When I first heard about it, I thought it was a mistake because it sure didn’t feel like 40 years had passed.   It sounded like something my parents or older friends would be going to.   When I did the math, it came out to 40 years but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

As I thought about it, I reflected back on what has changed since those days.  For me personally, a lot has changed.  Since I graduated from high school, I 
  • Got a college degree in Mathematics and Computer Science and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
  • Got married (once) and found my life partner.  Have been together for 35 years and counting.
  • Have two sons, who are great guys.
  • Lost my older sister, Ann, who passed away.
  • Owned about 17 cars.
  • Owned two houses and one condo – now living in one I built in central Mass.
  • Turned a 3 acre overgrown corn field into a beautiful homestead.
  • Worked 31 years for the same company – held 16 various positions, started as a computer programmer and ended as VP and officer for a fortune 500 company.  I worked with hundreds and hundreds of people and got to travel all over the country.
  • Learned all about computers and technology with my job; installed everything from the earliest PC’s, minicomputers, phone switches, networks, routers, modems, to the largest mainframe computers.
  • Became a licensed life insurance agent and was registered with NASD to sell securities; learned all about investments to help manage my own portfolio.
  • Was the Finance Director for my town for 8 years; learned all about municipal finance and budgeting.
  • Co-chaired a fund raising committee for our town library to support a $1M addition – raised $400K.
  • Retired at age 54 after working every year since I was a sophomore in high school – first job:  rock picker in a potato field, last job VP Technology Operations.
  • Climbed all the 4000 ft. mountains in Maine – best / favorite hike:  the Bigelow Range.
  • Biked over lots of this country (Iowa, Montana, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Maine, Mass, NH, Vermont, Utah) wore out a lot of chains and tires averaging 3,000 mils/year.  Owned 5 bikes at one point.  Best trip – riding thru Glacier National Park with my son Liam.
  • Started furniture making as a hobby;  Made lots of pieces for our home and for family and friends
  • Learned to ballroom dance (forced to by my wife); now you can’t keep me off the dance floor; favorite dances:  swing and zydeco
  • Learned to ride a motorcycle at age 54; now own a cruiser and like to explore the back roads of New England.
  • Learned to play the mandolin at age 46 and developed a love for bluegrass music.
  • Weighed about 160 lbs. when I graduated and had a 32 inch waist.  At one point weighed 235 lbs.  Now weigh 180 lbs. and have a 36 in waist
  • Had brown hair; now have less and mostly gray, a much larger forehead, and a gray beard.
When I was in high school, things were different than they are now.  Every generation has a different point in time perspective on how things have changed.   For me some the differences are the following;
  • There were only rotary phones and usually only one in the house
  • There was one TV in the house with no remote and no cable
  • We bought and listened to our music on vinyl 33 rpm or 45 rpm discs – there was no iTunes, Pandora, or Spotify
  • We ate meals as a family at a table, not in front of the TV.   There were no microwaves
  • There were no computers, internet, email, cell/smart phones, gaming consoles, cable TV, or digital cameras
  • Credit cards were rare – we paid for things with cash or with checks
  • We rode bikes to get to our friend’s houses
  • A first class postage stamp cost 8 cents, there was no FedEx of UPS
  • Gas was 36 cents/gallon and there were gas station attendants to pump your gas
  • Major beer brands:  Bud, Schlitz, Pabst, Miller, Narragansett, Carlings Black Label
  • There was still a draft
  • We played outside a lot;  favorite pastimes were playing basketball and going to the beach
  • We went to MacDonald’s maybe twice a year as a treat; eating out was rare
  • Shopping Malls just started to be developed
So, I guess a lot has transpired since I went to high school.  I sure wouldn’t want to go back.  I’d take back a couple of years it I could, but my take on the past 40 years in mostly very positive.   And I can only image what this list will look like in 40 more years.

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