Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reconnecting With The Friends Of My Youth

Grams graduated from Corpus Christi's W. B. Ray High School in 1972. That means, next year my high school graduating class will hold its 40 year reunion. Now, I love the idea of a reunion. The thought of getting together with old friends and rehashing the way things used to be reminiscing appeals to me. But the reality of such a reunion just didn't work out for me. I've only been to one of my high school reunions. That was in 1982 when we gathered for our 10 year reunion. The class of '72 at Ray HS was huge -- several hundred students. I had few friends who were actually in my class. The few kids from school that I ran with were a year older than me, so they were not at the reunion that I attended. Very few of my friends were there.

The reunion committee did a great job planning activities for the entire weekend. The class met at a local barbecue place for dinner on Friday night, there was a family picnic at noon on Saturday, and then a dinner and dance on Saturday night. In 1982, Grandad and I had two small children and not much money. We spent what was at the time a significant amount of money to attend. About halfway through the weekend, I realized that I had wasted that money. These were not my friends. These were not the people I wanted to see again and I was not having a good time. I turned to my husband and said something like "I didn't even like these people in high school. What am I doing here?" Needless to say, we've never been back to another reunion.

When I realized that my 40 year reunion would be next year, I started thinking about it and realized that there is actually a group of people that I would like to see again. I was privileged to belong to a church youth group that was very active and very close. There was a core group of about 50 kids with another 25-50 who came and went over the years. These were the kids that I ran with.

I remember feeling like all most teenagers feel with the kids at school. You know the feelings -- not good enough, not smart enough, not wealthy enough, not pretty enough, and so on. But, with this large group of teenagers at church, I don't ever remember feeling that way. For the most part, we were all accepting of each other. We went to summer camp together, we hung out in the youth room at church several times a week, we dated each other, we took summer mission trips together, and generally we spent a lot of time together. I don't ever remember anyone being alienated, bullied, or treated badly. Everyone was welcomed with open arms.

Don't get me wrong, we were kids.We did the same things all kids do ... we rolled houses, we drove too fast, we went parking, we got into mischief, but the important thing is we liked each other and we were open and accepting to new kids in the group. Now, 40 years later, I realize how rare and wonderful that group was and how fortunate I was to belong to such a group.

This youth group was part of Morgan Avenue Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, which no longer exists. But thanks to Facebook, several of us have gotten back in touch. We started kicking around the idea of a reunion for the MABC Youth Group of the 1960s and 1970s. We spent a few months tracking down as many of our old friends as we could. Then last Saturday, we met in San Antonio for a 3 hour reunion. We ate, we talked, we reminisced, we took pictures and we even sang. It was a blessing. We were also delighted to be joined by Scotty & Thelda Jefferies who were two of our adult leaders. They are the couple seated on the front row.

We're making plans to get together again next year, possibly in Corpus Christi. In the meantime, we'll be working on tracking down a few more of the people from that youth group. Next year we're going to include the entire church membership in our reunion.

If you are a former member of Morgan Avenue Baptist Church, there is an alumni group on Facebook that you should join. The name of the group is Morgan Avenue Baptist Church alums. Nancy Kay Rodman Smith is the group moderator. Nancy also maintains an email distribution list for former members of MABC that is separate from Facebook. If you would like to be included on that list email Nancy at nkrsmith(at)gmail(dot)com.

I can truly say that the years I spent as part of the youth group at Morgan Avenue Baptist Church were wonderful. Every child should have friends like that and adults who care and set such a good example. These people helped make me the person I am today. I am so happy to once again be in touch with these old friends.

Morgan Avenue Baptist Church may no longer exist as a place or a building, but it is alive and well in the friends of my youth.





3 comments:

  1. What a novel idea -- a reunion of people you actually want to see and not just a random group of people who happened to be in the same place at the same time.

    Went to my DH's 20th. Absolutely the worst time ever. Did not go to my 20th because his was SO BAD.

    But this? this is an idea I can get behind!

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  2. I've only been to one reunion as well, my 30th. People had changed so much. It was fun reminiscing. Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

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  3. Hi Grams!

    You are right on! I found your blog through Grandma's Briefs. As it turns out, you and I are the same age. Next year is my 40th also. As far as the reunion, I am wondering why bother because I have had much of the same experience. However, my choir and theater friends, also mostly Christian, now have reconnected through Facebook. It has been lovely.

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