40-Year Reunion 

Welcoming Address
by Howard B. Levy

  LI Marriott, "Re-Uniondale," New York, July 29, 2000    

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Once again, it is my extreme pleasure to welcome all of you to our reunion — this, the 40-year reunion of Oceanside High School’s Class of 1960 —



When we gathered together for our 20-year reunion in 1980, we were still in our thirties. It was astonishing, then, to think that many of us had children in high school at that time. But as we stand at the dawn of this new millennium, it is AWESOME, indeed, to consider that it’s now 40 years — yes, 40 years since our Graduation Day, that we are in our late fifties, and that some of us actually have grandchildren in high school.  (WOW!!  Isn’t that something?)  

As we look back tonight and remember the brief but wonderful time we spent together at OHS, we instinctively compare our own high school experience to that of our children — and of the kids today, in this terrifying age of Columbine. And how many of them will say that high school was one of the best times of their lives — as so many of us do? 

Oh, how different it was.

When we were in high school, over 40 years ago, science fiction writers spun tales of space travel, the Russians had Sputnik, and we amused ourselves with silly spoofs about flying saucers and a purple people-eater — but we never dreamed it was possible to put men on the moon in the same century, much less just around the calendar corner in the very next decade.  We were aware of computers (very BIG ones, that is) but never imagined actually owning one.  We certainly never heard of software, the Internet or e-mail — and viruses only gave us colds or the flu. TV was just starting, and we had situation comedies, not "sitcoms."  Remote control channel surfing was almost unheard of. We had no CDs, no wireless phones, FAXs, beepers, answering machines or voicemail, VCRs or even Japanese cars. 

Oh, how different it was.

There was no Viagra, Propecia or Prozac, Ibuprofin or Nutrasweet, or even bottled water, then.  (How did we get to be almost 60 years old without walking around with a bottle of water all the time?)  And no fertility drugs, free radicals, fat-free foods or faddish dietary supplements (like ginko biloba). No one knew about cholesterol; we were told it was healthy to eat red meat and "wholesome, farm-fresh dairy," and milk was delivered to our back doors, remember? We had just conquered polio; cancer was relatively rare, and no one ever heard of AIDS. We often dreamed of doing the "dirty" deeds depicted on the dog-eared pages of Peyton Place or Blackboard Jungle, and the fellas frequently fantasized about fondling Annette Funicello, but having real sex then (at least for the guys) was considered getting lucky — really lucky — not risking our lives. And if we did get lucky, we used condoms (not pills) to protect against accidentally starting a life (not ending one). And the term "safe sex" meant not getting caught by the girl’s parents. 

Oh, how different it was.

We understood back then that we were responsible for our own actions.  We didn’t blame them on addictions or abuse by a "sexual predator" or "dysfunctional family" (concepts we never even heard of). We also didn’t blame our misbehavior — or our ailments — on stress. (Surely, we had some stress, but the word wasn’t even in our vocabularies.) We never heard the terms, "quality of life," or "family values" either, but we surely had them, too, back in those days of the TV Cleavers, the Nelsons and the Andersons. 

"We never heard the terms, 'quality of life,' or 'family values' either, but we surely had them, too, back in those days of the TV Cleavers,
the Nelsons and the Andersons."

Athletes and actors were just athletes and actors, heroes nonetheless, but not political activists or candidates, and there were no debates or demonstrations over spotted owls or fur coats, feminism or abortion, gun control or gay rights. (Remember, back then, "gay" meant happy.) 

Oh, how different it was.

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