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The Springfield Times           Friday June 28, 2002

Lee's Class of '62 reunites after 40 years

Forty years ago, Springfield was a different place. There was one stop light, one strip mall, and Robert E. Lee High School was comprised of two modest wings.

So when Lee's class of 1962 gathered last weekend to reflect on their high school years, Springfield's evolution from sleepy suburb to major metropolis was a hot topic of conversation.

Beneath all the change, however, the people seemed to remain the same.

"The biggest thing is it wasn't so different, people still had a kinship they had before," said Bonnie Bennett McCabe, who hadn't seen many of her classmates in four decades.

The graduates of 1962 were the first class to spend four years at Lee, which first opened its doors in the fall of 1958. While there are many links, including the green-tiled walls, connecting today's school to the one they attended proved challenging.

Lane LeBosquet recalled eating lunch in the classrooms since the cafeteria was not complete when the building first opened.

In all, 125 members of the 292-person class gathered for a weekend filled with laughs, smiles, hugs and tears. In addition to swapping stories and cracking timeless jokes, the former classmates mingled with old friends and filled in more than a few gaps in time.

"I was fascinated to hear who married who, did what and went where," said Larry Curtis, class president. "There were some amazing adventures."

"It was the people who were the real delight of the whole affair," Curtis added. "You forget how good of friends you were 40 years ago, how nice your friends were. ... And 40 years is a lot of gossip."

While most graduates remembered some things differently, several key events--the upset victory over McLean in football, the senior class trip to New York and a prank that involved placing a car on the school's roof--appear to be etched in stone.

Other stories making the rounds involved the basketball game that changed a player's reputation, outings to Washington D.C.'s Brickskeller bar, and the horrifying sound of a homeroom teacher's metal-tip high heel shoes walking down the hall.

Besides having a chance to catch up with former teammates, acquaintances and lab partners, students also met with the teachers and staff that helped to shape their lives.

"We had a lot of freedom in that school, but we knew the limits. That's because of the teachers and faculty that groomed us," said McCabe, whose class graduated when gas was less than a quarter a gallon and John F. Kennedy roamed the Oval Office.

People returned to Springfield from all parts of the country, including Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana and many other locations. The festivities began Friday with a party at the Hilton and continued with a picnic at Lake Accotink Saturday afternoon followed by an evening tour of the renovated high school. Although Lee is still undergoing renovations, the changes to date were enough to throw some of the former students for a whirl.

"At first, I kept getting lost," said LeBosquet after taking the tour of the school. "But then I was able to find my way."

Not only were the attendees attempting to locate their former classrooms in a school that has continued to expand, but they were busy identifying faces from decades ago.

"What was wonderful was, after a little bit of disorientation where you felt dizzy, we were able to find our way around like we used to," said Curtis, relating the experience to being spun around blindfolded and then trying to pin the tail on the donkey.

LeBosquet organized the reunion as a way to reach out to old friends in the wake of Sept. 11. She began making arrangements in October and the confirmations began rolling in shortly thereafter.

"I thought we all should get together and go back to a quieter, more peaceful time in our lives," she said.

Mission accomplished.


ŠArcom Publishing Inc. - Fairfax/Fairfax Station/Burke/Springfield/Annandale Times 2002