When April 2022 appeared on my calendar four months ago, I thought this a fine summer for another Lincoln High class reunion. The 55th, specifically.

I emailed Marty, a neighbor I grew up with on Wagner Street in Warren. A retired teacher and assistant principal of the city’s Lincoln Junior High School, Marty masterfully directed our 50th class reunion in 2017. The event included a picnic at Stoney Creek a Friday in July, and a dinner dance the following night.

“Are you up to organizing a simple class reunion this summer? Perhaps a BYO food and drinks picnic?” I wrote Marty.

“We’re out west right now. I’ll get back to you in a few days,” he replied.

Our 50th reunion’s attendance numbered in the eighties, many spouses joining our classmates. With over three hundred fellow graduates in 1967, we had fun identifying the matured faces compared to our 25th class reunion.

Yet, I instantly recognized Al Newman’s smile in the picnic crowd. Al, my senior-year sweetheart, hit it off with my husband. Al’s wife answered my questions about his ongoing battle with Agent Orange consuming his body.

“We could drive from Cheboygan to Detroit’s VA Medical Center and back on auto pilot,” she jested.

We met the following morning for breakfast in Lake Orion before Al and Denise drove back home. “You’re welcome to come visit us in Cheboygan anytime, but I recommend the fall. It’s beautiful,” Al said.

Sadly, Mel and I attended Al’s funeral early last September before the colors emerged.

Perhaps Al’s passing prompted me to propose another class reunion to Marty. Or, did our mutual need to gather at picnic tables compel about thirty-five of our classmates and spouses to share the afternoon of August 4 together?

During the first boisterous thunderstorm of this summer in North Oakland County and Macomb Township, two by two and one by one, the hardy LHS folk found the Ridgewood campground. Exclamations, greetings, and bursts of laughter echoed under umbrellas and the pavilion.

Jane, also a friend from my Warren neighborhood, and her husband Michael, joined our table. Reminiscent of the 2017 picnic, we mentioned our missing classmate. “We have no guarantees for a long life,” Jane said.

Marty lit the grill for the gang who ordered hot dogs and hamburgers. Although I thoroughly enjoyed my chicken salad sandwich and Michigan’s fresh fruit, there’s nothing like the aroma of a charcoal barbeque to authorize a picnic.

And you would’ve thought the laughter and decibel level declined while we consumed our meal. Not so. Perhaps due to those amongst us who spent a small fortune on hearing aids and refuse to wear them.

Dear Reader, as the sun broke through the clouds, a group of women formed a semi-circle of lawn chairs on the edge of the pavilion. A mix of spouses and LHS graduates, they caught up on life between class reunions.

“My wife and the other girls decided they want to repeat this every summer,” Marty said.

“Count me in.”

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.