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Dear ‘61 Classmate:
If midlife crisis has you in a spin, why not come and spend your time (and money) on a weekend of laughter with old friends at our 25th reunion?
Here’s the agenda so far:
Friday, July 25, 1986, 6-8 p.m.
       Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres at the Gatlings
        1563 Birch Lane
        (315-578-4986)
Saturday, July 26, 1986
    11:00 a.m. - Tour of Cherry Valley High School (afternoon on your own)
         6:00 p. m. - Cherry Valley Country Club
         7:00 p. m. - Cocktails (2 free)
          7:30 p.m. - Dinner
          9:00 p. m. - Cerebral interactions
          $75.00 per couple
Sunday, July 27, 1986, 12-3 p.m. - Brunch at Jack Thornton’s, (315 -538-9826)
If you need motel accommodations, please let us know.  Call Jeff Sanders at (201-538-9826)
Please return the enclosed sheet and checks to:
          Andrea Coe (yes… I’m still available)
          352 Laurel Lane
          Cherry Valley NY 37658

 

Characteristically rumpled after a day at the University of Washington, Richard Zacharias absently thrust a hand through his hair, stopping mid-temple with tufts of thick, sandy hair poking between spread fingers, as he read, with mounting enthusiasm, this invitation which had come in the day’s mail.  He slowly sank into the padded seat of the hall tree in the foyer as he read it, his hand sliding down the side of his face to frame and support his strong jaw.  He finished the letter and rubbed his hand across his face, cupping his chin in a hunched, reflective attitude, remembering.

Getting up and walking into the den, he set a just-opened can of beer down on his desk and, turning around to a closet, he pulled out a dust-coated cardboard box and plopped it on the floor.  Bending over and rummaging through it, he soon produced, with a sharp “Ha!” of satisfaction, his Cherry Valley High School yearbook. 

Picking up his beer and standing by the desk he opened the yearbook carefully and turned to the senior pictures.  Inscriptions covered many of them, most starting with the salutation, “Dear Zack,” for that was his nickname, and his father’s, and his grandfather’s.  As he flipped through the pages, some of the lines smoothed from his face, and a faint, aroused light grew in his eyes.

He looked first at his old loves, going straight to Corey James.  Although Zack had considered Corey to be his “steady” (she wore his class ring and then his silver football charm around her neck), she had always been faintly aloof.  Among the boys she had been known as the “Ice Queen.”  Awkward and subdued in high school, Zack had been in awe of Corey, because she had dated a senior when they were freshmen.  She had been slender and blue-eyed with thick, shoulder-length chestnut hair which she wore in a long pageboy.  If she had a blemish it was her nose, which was ever so slightly humped.  But the nostrils were delicately flared, and a small mole midway up the side deflected attention from the bump.  Altogether, Corey was beautiful.

Zack had become aware of Corey during freshman year in high school.  He had thought her pretty and attractive, but never entertained thoughts of dating her—she was too good looking, and in their freshman year she had begun dating a senior boy named Bob Evans.  To Zack she had been as inaccessible as the moon.

Corey had been attracted to Zack ever since her family moved to Cherry Valley when she was thirteen and in the eighth grade.  But she had been new to the area and did not have access to the girl-boy network whereby other girls could have signaled her interest in Zack through intermediary boys.  Her early shot at Zack had come right after she moved to Cherry Valley—there had been a loosely chaperoned boy-girl party in the home of the tall, coltish girl living at the top of her street.  The girl’s mother had badgered her to invite Corey to help her make friends.  A lively game of “spin the bottle” ensued in the basement.  When Zack’s turn came he flicked the bottle inexpertly, hoping when it stopped spinning it would point at Andrea for him to kiss.  But when the bottle pointed instead at Corey he had become embarrassed and flustered and had dashed up the stairs and out of the house.  Horribly embarrassed herself, Corey had done the same, running all the way home through torrents of tears.

A year later, when Corey was finally accepted by girls her age, she was wrapped up in the gravitational field of Bob Evans, a boy three years her senior.  But she never lost interest in Zack, in spite of the spin-the-bottle fiasco.  It wasn’t until two years later when Bob had been off to college for two years that Corey and Zack started dating—Corey initiated it by screwing up her courage and inviting Zack to a “Sadie Hawkins” dance in the middle of their junior year.  Zack couldn’t remember much about the dance, but he recalled with a wry grin how Corey had charmed him afterwards at a classmate’s house teaching him how to spin a hula-hoop around his waist.

Whenever over the years Zack had looked at Corey’s yearbook picture, he’d ached with mingled yearning, tenderness, and a sense of loss. With little effort he could scent Corey’s warm, moist breath, hear her quickened breathing, and feel her arms tightening around him as they pressed their lips together in close-mouthed adolescent kisses.  He remembered how her breath would change after a few minutes of their kissing, becoming thicker and ever so slightly musky.  Because he was so completely inexperienced, Zack did not pick up on this subtle signal Corey’s body was sending him telling him she wanted him to love her.  Comprehended or not, these sensations had always produced an intoxicating rush of diffused warmth, beginning at the nape of his neck and spreading forward and downward to pool in his chest, striking him dumb with wordless, soaring joy.

Kissing Corey had been difficult at first.  Zack had not been able to bring himself to kiss her during the initial weeks of dating because of his shyness and lack of experience.  He ended dates with a platonic and frustrating, “Well, I’ll be seeing you,” and shrug of his shoulders.  Corey finally became so exasperated that she enlisted a girlfriend to approach him in the school cafeteria one day with a clipped out “Dear Abby” column about how to overcome shyness for the first big kiss. 

And so, emboldened, two nights later Zack laid his first kiss on Corey in the front hall of her home after bringing her back from a movie.  Full on the lips, this kiss was open mouth to open mouth for several glorious, incandescent seconds.  And the tingling sensation that flashed across his face, neck, and chest was terrific!  Momentarily stunned, and not knowing what to do next, he wrenched his face away from hers, making a loud snucking sound.  But it was done.  Everyone apparently knew that this was the night because when he got back in the car Andrea Coe asked from the back seat, “How was it?  Wasn’t it great?” Actually, it was great.  And forever. 

* * *

The Cherry Valley that Zack and his classmates grew up in was an upper-middle class bedroom community of Syracuse, New York.  Businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals lived in Cherry Valley’s established suburbs of tall maple trees and manicured lots.  Cherry Valley was surrounded by outlying tracts with nursery-stock maples, fresh sod, and curbless streets.  Grocery stores, restaurants, drug stores, gas stations, haberdasheries, and shoe stores were crammed into a single brawling thoroughfare that ran through the middle of Cherry Valley.  There were two drive-in movie theaters, one pre-MacDonald’s hamburger stand, and four private country clubs.  Three major roads intersected in the center of Cherry Valley, forming a “Y”.  The high school was close at hand, and students often gathered at a restaurant, appropriately called “The Y,” located in the apex of the intersection.  The father of one of Zack’s classmates owned the restaurant.  Years later that classmate would run it, and he became a focal point organizer for their high school reunions.

At the time Zack and his classmates went through high school World War II had been over for almost fifteen years, and the Korean Conflict was already a fading memory.  America had become a rich and confident nation.  Rock n’ Roll was an emerging statement of teenage freedom.  It was an age of independence, fostered by the automobile that spurred the hopes of teenage boys.  No longer were boy-girl dalliances restricted to heavy looks and hurried kisses stolen on the glider on the front porch.  Rather, love’s mysteries were explored from the semi-private depths of the car’s back seat at the drive-in movie.  The G.I.’s had brought cigarettes and beer home from the War and the following generation of war babies reaped these new expressions of freedom.  Coupling these forbidden adult pleasures with back seat gropings heightened the heady titillation of adolescent sex.

There's more, a lot more to chapter 1, but you get the picture - it acquaints you with the characters, times and places as back story for the reunion and what followed.

Want to try a little more? How about Friday night of the reunion? To read that, click on Friday Night.