Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Try to Remember

The fiftieth anniversary of Morris (MN) High School graduation of the Class of 1959 was marked this past weekend by a reunion. Sixty-seven of the hundred and three graduates turned up, which is a remarkable number. For a gathering of people all the same age, it was surprising to me how different in age they looked. Some were seriously senior, others barely past middle-aged. But they were all happy to see one another, and soon were exchanging reminiscences of high school days. Teachers good and bad were recalled, band parades, sports, chorale, dances, tricks pulled, the list was endless, the laughter warm. Everyone was given a name tag with his or her high school photo on it and I was surprised at how many people knew one another without having to look. "You haven’t changed a bit!" was a refrain often heard – though to my eyes none of them looked eighteen. A lot of spouses were there and I thought perhaps we'd get together and make comments, but we were too busy being introduced and enjoying meeting the friends of our spouses' youth. A professional photographer had been hired to take a group photo. He got them lined up with the front row on chairs, the next row standing, the row behind that standing on chairs, and there were still people left over. "We need a row sitting on the floor," he called. "How many of you still have good knees?" That got the laugh of the evening.

I, of course, started thinking of how a reunion like this would make a terrific murder mystery.

I’ve been assigned a panel at Gaylaxicon in early October here in St. Louis Park (that’s a suburb of Minneapolis, where I live). It’s called "Collaborative Writing," and it’s supposed to cover both the benefits and pitfalls of collaborations. I was once half of Margaret Frazer. Gail and I wrote six medieval mysteries together before we called it off. She has continued the series alone, and done very well with it. I’ve also written some short stories in collaboration with my husband. The stories in both cases were much improved with two minds working on them, but I will also note that the worst quarrel of my marriage was over a short story we eventually sold to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Benefits? For sure. Pitfalls? Absolutely.

Tumbled into a plastic bag in a corner of my office are two big skeins of washable yarn and a pair of knitting needles. My church has a program offering "prayer shawls" to its members who are in grief or suffering serious illnesses. I want to join the the group and learn how to knit the shawls, but every time I find out who is running it and when the meetings are, the person resigns or the meeting is cancelled for some reason. And then I get busy with other projects and forget to pursue the matter. But on a Sunday when the offering is brought to the altar and with it comes a thick, cozy, folded-up shawl, I remember and promise myself I will try again to find out who is currently running the project. And I will, as soon as I finish Buttons and Bones. Stay tuned.

5 comments: said...

My prayer shawl pattern uses Lion Brand Homespun and size 13 needles.
Cast on 57. Knit three, pearl three. Repeat until you have almost used up three skeins.
I don't belong to a group though some of my friends do. There is always a home for the shawls. And they make great mindless knitting for trips and meetings.
Becky Preston

Betty Hechtman said...

I liked hearing about the reunion and could definitely imagine a murder plot. When I was young, I thought time made people forget about stuff. Now I get how something that happened 40 or 50 years ago can still be fresh and require revenge.

A note about prayer shawls. I have a pattern for a crocheted one in my second book. I think any shawl will do. It isn't about what it looks like as much as the comfort that comes from knowing someone made it for you.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

We actually buried my mother in a shawl that someone had crocheted and given to the chemo patients. Mom had worn it to chemo all the time--and it seemed to comfort her a lot. Betty, you are right about where that comfort comes from.

Camille Minichino said...

If I may, Monica --"Mourning in Miniature," which comes out October 6, is centered around a murder at a 30th high school reunion!

I'm sure there are others, but maybe none where a mini room box is also featured.

And now I'll stop my BSP on your blog day.

I echo your observation about people not looking the same age though they must be within a year or two -- I had the same experience at my own 50th.

Monica Ferris said...

Thank you, Rebecca955! That seems easy enough, and I already have two skeins of Lion Brand.

I'm going to have to look at Camille's book on a reunion murder. Maybe it will ruin my ambition -- or inspire me to write my own!