High School Reunion

Saturday, July 20th was my 40th high school reunion. I am a graduate of the Class of 1979 from Chief Logan High School in Lewistown, Pa. If my memory is correct, I was one of 243 students in our class.

The former Chief Logan Joint High School was changed in 2011 to the Mifflin County Junior High School. The change was associated with cost cutting and decline in the population of school age children. The building itself was built in 1957 and has gone through several upgrades over the years. The school itself sits near Pleasant Acres, a housing community situated between Lewistown and Burnham. Many of my friend lived in Pleasant Acres. My best friend from high school lived about a block from the school.

We were the Chief Logan Mingos, named after the Indian Logan. Logan was born in Pennsylvania circa 1725. Logan’s father was a Cayuga American Indian named Shikellamy. Shikellamy later renamed his son after James Logan, a prominent Pennsylvanian. He lived near what is present-day Lewistown in the late 1760’s to early 1770’s. He later resettled to Ohio near Yellow Creek, a village of Seneca-Cayuga natives. Logan became a war leader but continued to urge his fellow Cayuga not to attack whites settling in the Ohio Country. His attitude changed on May 3, 1774, when a group of Virginia settlers murdered approximately one dozen Seneca-Cayuga. Among them were Logan’s mother and sister. Logan demanded that the Seneca-Cayuga and their allies, principally the Shawnee, revenge the deaths of his loved ones. Cornstalk, a prominent Shawnee leader, still called for peace, but Logan ignored him. He conducted raids in western Pennsylvania, killing thirteen whites in retaliation for the Seneca-Cayuga deaths. His attacks, and escalating Anglo-American settler aggression against the Ohio Country’s American Indian peoples, resulted in Lord Dunmore’s War.

In August 1774, Pennsylvania militia entered the Ohio Country and quickly destroyed seven Seneca-Cayuga villages, which wereabandoned as the soldiers approached. At the same time, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, sent one thousand men to the Kanawha River in modern-day West Virginia to build a fort and attack the Shawnee. Many of the tribe, who had experienced a change of heart toward the white colonists as the soldiers invaded the Ohio Country, dispatched nearly one thousand Shawnees to drive Dunmore’s force from the region. The forces met in October 1774 at what became known as the Battle of Point Pleasant. After several hours of intense fighting, the English drove the Indian followers north of the Ohio River. The two sides eventually met to determine peace terms. Logan refused to attend but did send a speech known as “Logan’s Lament.” Simon Girty, an Englishman that the American Indians had kidnapped and then raised as one of their own, may have read it at the conference. It became one of the most famous speeches by an American Indian in North American history, made famous by Thomas Jefferson. Logan died in 1780’s.

Over the past twenty eight years I have gotten back a few times to visit family. As time goes on, that frequency has been less and less. The last time was a year ago, taking my daughter to a riding camp and my son on a mini-vacation. That last time, I drove my kids to the old high school, but it was closed. Not much contact with teachers either. My favorite hasty teacher died a number of years ago. I did manage to reminisce with my high school Chemistry teacher at my dad’s funeral a few years ago. Actually I had to bring him up to speed in terms of members of the class, some whom were his neighbors during high school.

In an ironic twist of fate over the years, a good friend of mine from high school went to work with a friend of mine from college. I talked to both of them via e-mail and LinkedIn. I hadn’t seen my high school friend in years; the last time was his senior year in college. I went to visit my sister at Penn State and we met up. Too much drinking that night.

Over the years, I managed to return to two high school reunions. The first was after 5 years. It was easy to attend that reunion since I had graduated from college and was getting my masters degree about an hour from home. The last time was for my 35th high school reunion. The reunions after that were notionally 5 and 10 years apart. I don’t recall getting many notices about those events, between Graduate School and leaving for New Mexico, the distance and time a was transformed by living life, family and kids. There was the occasional “crossing of paths”, a wedding, notice of the loss of a friend, family, etc. Never really time to catch up and reminisce.

I tried to reminisce that Saturday evening, some 2000 miles away from home and the reunion. But I could not find my yearbook. I can explore the pictures and the pages of the book on Classmates.com, but without it, I don’t have many photos of that time period in my life. Between having moved over the years, living my teenage years in a broken home, often on my own. I participated in several extra curricular activities my junior and senior year, but that was somewhat curtailed with a job at the local KMart. Those were good times and I had a great group of friends. We all have drifted apart over the years. Aside from an occasional FaceBook post, I have lost contact with many of them over the years. Perhaps travel upon retirement will afford me the opportunities to reconnect. There is always the Christmas Card route.

I really wanted to return to my 40th because a number of my friend, through FaceBook, indicated that they were going to be ther. Sadly, work-related travel and travel for horse events has curtailed my ability to travel back east. To even get back east for a day requires a full day out and a full day back.

Friends posted group and individual photos on FaceBook so that was great to see how people had changed over the years visually. Maybe we will have a 45th year high school reunion hen most of us will be 63. Of course, there is also my college reunion with the classs of 1983, Graduate school doesn’t have much in the way of reunions.

I was able to look at the FaceBook photos posted. Everyone looked well and they looked like a good time was had by all. Wish I was there.

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