The Herald Bulletin

November 13, 2013

Jim Bailey: A bit of nostalgia, or you can just admire the mountains

The Herald Bulletin

---- — As we were leaving my wife’s Princeton, W.Va., High School decade reunion, one of her old schoolmates remarked to me, “You’re a good man to come to your wife’s reunion.”

Indeed. Besides my wife, her sister and our great-niece (who attended as my sister-in-law’s escort) I think I knew about one person, a guy who had attended, and later pastored, the church we usually attended whenever we visited her hometown.

Anyway the food wasn’t bad. And if things got too boring I could always gaze out the window at the sun setting over the West Virginia mountains.

The entire decade of the ’60s was involved. That naturally meant lots of gray hair, much of it missing among the men or covered up with darker hues among the women. For a couple of nights, though, they reminisced about their teenage years, swapped stories of their moves around the country or got out on the dance floor and acted like youngsters again.

One couple in particular hardly missed a dance, and it was evident they had plenty of experience. I wondered where they got their energy. As it turned out, the woman, with legs and a figure of someone much younger, admitted to having reached her 80th birthday. Her husband, a Princeton High School grad, was a mere 65. She explained that she had been a dance teacher but had retired after her first husband died. When she remarried, she and her new husband got back into it.

Bonnie’s graduating class, 1961, recently purchased a state-of-the-art $88,000 scoreboard for the football field. It’s even capable of those crowd-cam shots, although they learned later the price didn’t include the camera. They’re now raising money to add the cam.

Bonnie’s sister, Princeton Mayor Pat Wilson, was called on to give an impromptu discussion of the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown. It’s a dilemma faced by every city in the country, including Anderson, as core businesses now covet locations as close to the nearest freeway as they can get.

The reunion was held at the conference center at Pipestem State Park, near the town of Athens. Just like here, the leaves were just starting to turn on the abundant hills of southern West Virginia. We did see at least 20 deer as we drove into the park, most of them feeding right out in the open.

The decade reunion is held about every three years, and Bonnie has gone to three of them, although she hasn’t been back for a Class of 1961 get-together since their 25th. But she had a grand time. And I even managed to chat with some people I’d never seen before.

It’s that way, of course. People grow up, go through life’s experiences and figure out their high school cliques weren’t all that much. Then they come back together and backslap as if they had always been one big happy family.

Jim Bailey’s column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at