Thursday, September 4, 2014

It's on...

It's hard to believe that the past 8 months have gone so fast.  Our reunion team kicked into motion in December of last year, and now we are two days from the reunion.  Time goes so quickly.

I can't wait to see all of you again.  We were a class of almost 200 people.  Some of us were inseparable back then.  Some of us hardly knew each other.

But regardless, we all share a common timeline.  And after 35 years, that timeline links us together in a way that makes us all dear, life long friends.

When I think back about my past 35 years, I think of my struggles, my triumphs, and my ongoing journey toward understanding who I am and what it means to be alive.

And I am struck by the understanding that what we have achieved in our lives is far less important than what we have experienced.

And more important than anything are the lives we touch as we make our way through life.

I wanted to lose 10 pounds before the reunion.  I wanted to get a little tan on my feet (that haven't seen the sun in over a year).  I wanted to complete some of the very incomplete person that I am.

But really, none of that matters.  Shiny or dull, I am who I am.

And you are perfect as you are.  I am so excited to see you all again.

Please come, and let's celebrate and remember the amazing year of 1979.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Why a 35th high school reunion?

(Originally posted on Facebook by Robin)

Why a 35th high school reunion? Good question, really. The person in the first photo (above) did not LOVE high school. It was not the "time of her life", but she has grown up and realized one important thing ... the people in the second photo (below) are the people she grew up with. 

Some figuratively and some literally. They are the people that walked the same path at the same time ... and had different experiences ... and now they're all grown up and gone their separate ways, and I'm interested not so much in revisiting who they were then ... but learning who they have become. Together we shared many firsts, and the lesson that I learned from my time with Steve Hooks is that you just never know when we'll be sharing our lasts. I hope to see you at the reunion ... let's catch up ... because these are the ongoing times of our lives!!! If you cannot come, please drop us a note and update us on your life. We will miss you!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Steve Hooks left us yesterday. After a surprise accident and routine surgery, he suddenly and unexpectedly perished, leaving us all stunned and saddened.

 It was impossible to not love Steve. He had a boundless spirit that lit up the room. He was loud, playfully provocative, funny, and a joy to be near. He treasured his friends and made sure that we knew it. His love of life was infectious. His unflinching embrace of the human struggle he shouldered was humbling.

 After reconnecting with some of our AHS classmates, I have been a more frequent lurker on Facebook. One night, I got myself into deep Facebook water by pledging to get down with my bad self and dance the night away with Robin. Knowing that I have no dance skills whatsoever, Robin mercifully has not called me on that pledge.

 But shortly after that exchange, 70’s disco and funk favorites started popping up on my Facebook timeline. Steve had appointed himself as my new minister of music, and had taken it upon himself to prep me for my dancing debut. From Shalamar to Joe Tex, and Kool and the Gang to Instant Funk, he diligently built me a library of danceable late 70’s tunes. His last submission was ten days ago; James Brown, “People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul.”

 That was Steve. He loved to laugh. He wanted to ride in every Corvette he saw. He made the people around him feel good.

 A while ago, Steve posted something that, paraphrased, read, "Don't wait and say nice things about me at my funeral …tell me now." Thanks to Steve being the person that he was, many of us did get the chance to do just that. That is comforting today.

 We have a limited time in this world, and our fortunes can change in a moment. Bearing that in mind, I will remember Steve for many things, but importantly for the lessons he taught me. Steve has helped me to value the friends I had forgotten. He has taught me about humility and perseverance. He has made my life more meaningful by including me in his.

 He always ended with, “friends for life.” Even longer than that, buddy. God bless you Steve.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Generic Blog Post

Here's a blast from the past.  Remember these packages in the grocery stores?

Starting sometime in the late seventies, these generic products began showing up on grocery shelves.  I did a little research, and found out that Chicago based Jewel Food Stores pioneered the introduction of generic grocery products into the US market, with a range of 44 items in February 1977. The program was so successful that Jewel Food Stores quickly increased its generic line to about 100 items.

About the time we turned 18, the generic rage was in full swing.  I remember thinking the beer was just about the funniest thing I'd ever seen.  It was nasty beer, too.  Especially the light beer.  Bleh!

Remember how all of the generic products were lined up side by side on their own store shelves?  

For a couple of years there, you could buy generic everything!  Then it turned into a joke...

Then suddenly, the novelty faded.  A couple of years later,  the packaging disappeared from the shelves and it was all over.  Amazingly, most of the people I work with today have no idea this ever happened.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sunday Get-Together

After our last reunion planning meeting, Leon Byrd took a few minutes to document our crowd, and then put this cool video together.  Nice job, Leon!

It's easy to see which of us was hard at work, and which of us was goofing off.  I have the distinct honor of being the one caught coming out of the bathroom.  I hope that doesn't count as my fifteen minutes of fame!

I think there were fourteen of us at the meeting.   There's a few more of us every time we get together.  Our next planning get-together is March 23rd.  If you are in the area, stop in!


You've just gotta love the internet.  Thanks to the totally open-sourced nature of Wikipedia, I was able to list the Apex Class of 1979 website in the External Links section of the Wikipedia page about Apex High School.  Check it out!

Now, theoretically, people all over the planet could stumble onto our site.  If we wind up with hundreds of foreign tourists crashing our reunion on September 6th,  well, we know where they came from!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More from the Wayback Machine...Music Edition.

This really took me back to 1979.  The Knack, Donna Summer, Chic, Rod Stewart.

I guess my favorites are along the lines of "What a Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers and "The Logical Song" by Supertramp.  Really the whole "Breakfast in America" album.

We really did have great music.   Back in our day, musicians didn't "sample" a successful predecessor's work, and most of them actually played a musical instrument, even competently.

The music...even the disco...still sounds great.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Got photos?

That (above) is a gas line during the energy crisis of 1979. Remember?

Since starting this project of reconnecting with all of you Apex 1979 classmates, I have been searching for pictures that document our days in Apex.  Cameras are prolific today, and everyone has an enormous number of pictures, documenting everything from profound events to everyday moments.  Pictures today don't carry the same value as they did when we were in high school.

Constant picture taking was not the norm back in 1979.  There was no such thing as digital photography.  Pictures took effort and consumed resources.  As a result, much of our daily life was not documented in photographs.

While in school, I worked as the soda jerk at Bennett's Pharmacy in downtown Apex. Anyone who remembers Mr. Bennett's store probably remembers that Mr Bennett ran a classy, friendly, home town place that was fun to visit.

I loved working there.  I got to make lemon-aids and orange-aids the old fashioned way, with real fruits.  I'd slice them and squeeze them in a manual press to extract the juice, then mix that juice with the simple syrup I had made from hot water and lots and lots of sugar.  Nothing is better.

I remember making vanilla Cokes for customers.   I even remember a day that an elderly local came in and asked for an ammonia Coke.  I had no idea what that meant.

Mr Bennett told me to go and get a bottle of ammonia form the shelf, and to put a tablespoon of it in a fountain Coke.

It calmed the nerves, as I remember.  Who knew?

I remember talking with Mr. Bennett about the gas crisis that raged in 1979.  I told him I wanted to store gallons of gasoline under my parents' house, in empty milk jugs.  He quietly advised me that such a plan would possibly end in a big explosion that destroyed the house.  I abandoned the idea.

Remembering all of the wonderful memories I had working at Bennett's Pharmacy led me to search in vain online for pictures of the street (Salem street?), or the pharmacy.  I turned up nothing.

The point of this story is just this: I need your photos to make the blog come alive. We all had our afternoon jobs and our familiar routines.  Memories of those routines most likely feel as precious to you now as my memories of Bennett's Pharmacy do for me.

Please contact me if you have photos.  I'll arrange to scan them and get them back to you, or if you are able to scan, even better.   Send your scanned photos, or messages about photos that need to be scanned, to

Extra credit for you if you have pictures of Bennett's Pharmacy!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

At Tacotacotaco-Bell

Another cheesy (sorry) commercial from 1979.

Important Stuff From 1979

Look at everything that was happening in 1979!

1979 was the year that Skylab re-entered Earth's atmosphere, disintegrated, and burned up over Australia.  BTW, Pluto was still a planet when we graduated.

The first Sudoku was published.  Back then, it was called "Number Place."

About the time we graduated, the Gossamer Albatross, a human powered plane, successfully crossed the English Channel.

1979 was the year that "Alien" hit the movie theaters.  Man, that movie scared me.

"Mad Max," too.

Although Apple didn't release the iPod until October 23, 2001, the technology was invented in 1979. Meanwhile, we were lugging our gigantic boom boxes around everywhere...

...unless we had a Sony Walkman, also invented in 1979.  

The compact disk player, too.  

Rollerblades and snowboards...

An Nacho Cheese Doritos!  Remember these commercials?


Thirty-five years!  It’s hard to fully appreciate what a long time that really is.

Think about it. Thirty-five years is enough time to bring children into the world, raise them to adulthood, and watch them leave home and start their own lives.

How about thirty-five years measured in cars?  For me, that’s fifteen.  Homes and apartments?  Twelve.  Pets?  I can’t even count them all.

It’s long enough that as I sat to write this post, I had to really struggle to remember what life at Apex High School was like back in 1979.  Eventually, the memories have started coming back into focus, but they are way down deep inside, where they have laid quietly for most of my life. 

It feels good to wake them up.