by Marc Cullison
I’d had no interest in high school reunions until 12 years ago. Oh, I had attended one, the 20th reunion in Blackwell, Oklahoma. That’s where I graduated from high school; my alma mater. My family moved to Blackwell just before I entered the ninth grade, so I had four years to make new friends, establish my reputation as a good student, which I more or less was, and enjoy the perks and status as a high school student.
As it turned out, four years weren’t enough. I’m not exactly a social fellow, and I find establishing friendships a bit difficult at times. So it should be no surprise that I had few close friends at Blackwell. Don’t get me wrong. I did have friends, just not that many close friends. So my venture back to revisit old relationships after 20 years was a bit counterproductive. I tried another reunion later and found that the group was soon segregated into the old cliques fostered by similarities in perceived status or interests. Apparently I had few interests in common with the student body and I certainly had no significant status other than my own satisfaction of a well rounded high school education.
Before moving to Blackwell, I had attended Hobart Public Schools from midway through the second grade until after the eighth. During that time in southwestern Oklahoma, in Kiowa County, where the dirt is red like the ants and horned toads flourish, I had establish deep and close friendships with a number of classmates. We enjoyed and respected each other and spent much of our time in common activities outside of school.
Several years after the Blackwell reunion, two dear friends of mine, Michael and Truett, mentioned that Hobart, Oklahoma, was having a high school reunion. They invited me to attend and I balked at the idea, since I really hadn’t graduated with those folks and I feared I would be an outsider. I eventually conceded to his persistence, since he explained to me that the reunion was not just the class of 1964, but included all classes for that decade.
I approached that first reunion with trepidation, knowing I was not really one of them. Of course, as I’m usually given to folly, my apprehension was unfounded. I was welcomed as a fellow classmate and treated as if I had never left. The close ties quickly rebounded and it was as though I had lived there all of my life.
I’ve been to several Hobart reunions since and they all have been spectacular. The camaraderie has never faltered and my presence has always been accepted with respect and a handshake or hug. I have always regretted leaving Hobart. Not the town so much as the friends I have there.
The recent reunion in 2016 was a notable highlight in my life. I met several new folks, some of the Vietnam vets. I am always keen to meet fellow vets. There is a special bond between us that even friendship would find difficult to surpass. But the folks in Hobart are a special breed; one that’s hard to find in many places. With the world so wrapped up in wars and hatred and selfishness, Hobart provides a much needed respite from it all. Each time I go back there I feel like my bond with my friends had deepened. There are no outcasts, no cliques, no judgmental looks, no arrogance. It’s all about being with each other and caring. As I mentioned, I’m not a social fellow, but there in Hobart, one doesn’t need to be.
I enjoyed my time there, as always, and I commend the few brave souls who labored to arrange and plan the event. We all appreciate their efforts. And I appreciate all of the folks there in the town that I like to call my home.