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  • Some Random Thoughts of The 50 Years Since Graduation:
    By Bill Hardy

     
    It may seem odd that a C+/B- student, who probably only got into college because he could throw a football, would be addressing his 50th high school reunion classmates, especially when he was always more nervous addressing the pep rallies than playing the games. We were very fortunate to have been raised in Teaneck, a model town, during a time of relative innocence and good will on earth. A major reason we are all here tonight is because of our wonderful Teaneck High School teachers. Aristotle said “Teachers, who educate children, deserve more honor than parents, who merely give them birth; for the latter provided mere life, while the former ensure a good life.” And to paraphrase Henry Adam’s thoughts on teachers, “Teachers affect eternity; they can never tell where their influence stops.” Our Teaneck High teachers prepared all of us very well for life, even if they didn’t always give all of us high grades.

    Barbara gave a great review of our formative high school years. The rest of our lives began on that warm Thursday evening, June 12, 1958 when, proudly bearing our new high school diplomas we exited Teaneck High School and wondered what would happen next. There was no way for each of us to ever imagine the career and personal paths we were about to embark upon for the next 50 years. Here we are together again after 50 years, one half century since some of us last saw each other last. Had we been born a few centuries earlier, those intervening fifty years would have been years of little change. For thousands of years most of the world's population lived just as their parents lived, worked just as their parents worked, and died where their ancestors had been laid to rest. For our 292 classmates, whose whereabouts are known, 125 still live in New Jersey, but 36 moved to Florida, 28 to New York, 17 to California and the rest scattered to 22 other states and 1 to PR. The town that most of our classmates now call home is Teaneck (14) followed by New York City (8). There were 6 sets of classmates who married. The last piece of trivia is: the most common female and male first names were: 12 Barbara and 13 Robert, very different from the “creative” names of many of today’s children.

    For thousands of years the idea of progress, even of change itself, was not only foreign, it was simply unknown and unthinkable. Not with us. Little did we know, back in the tranquil wonderful years of the 1950s, that ahead of us lay a world of local, national, international change. I won’t bore you with a list of all of the discoveries and events during the past 50 years, but I will mention 2 milestones that occurred in 1958: first the Intel corporation invented the integrated circuit and thus the microchip and, second, and far more important especially for men, was the invention of the remote control, yes the dreaded “clicker,” by the Zenith corporation. But in a more serious vein consider this: had we been born only fifty years earlier, the chances of our being around at our current age would have been minimal. Life expectancy in our country in the early years of the twentieth century was only 47 years. Had Fleming not discovered Penicillin, from moldy bread in 1943, probably an additional 20% of our class would not be alive today. Surely it is by the grace of God, and good fortune, that some of us, but unfortunately not all of us, have lived long enough to share this night together. Gray hair, gravity, and wrinkles aside, the women are just as beautiful as when they graduated and we men, although we may have more facial hair but less on top, are here to celebrate. Tonight we recall our formative years at Teaneck High School and share with each other a little of what we have experienced since that day in 1958 when we confidently took hold of our diplomas and set out, as we sang in our alma mater, to conquer and prevail.

    We either went into the job market or into military service or to college or got married- or all of the above. Many of the “girls,” now women, were guided into professions that were gender oriented- secretaries, nurses, teachers, and homemakers. Although it is much different today for women, the female gender professions are still among the most noble, important and rewarding. We knew the joys of good marriages and the pain of failed ones, but through it all we did our best to be good parents and to raise our children well. Then we watched with joy as our grandchildren came into the world as different from their parents as our children were from us. As someone once said “If I only knew how great grandchildren were, I would have had them first!”

    Okay, so we didn't always conquer, but we did prevail, and we are here tonight to prove it. I am confident that what we learned at Teaneck High, and the friendships we shared, prepared us for the half century that followed. I am thankful, as I'm sure you are, that tonight we can share this common milestone in our lives and say together, “Hail to thee, our alma mater, hail to Teaneck High.”



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