Peggi Fournier, Jeff Munson and Nina Gaby at RL Thomas Reunion in 2023
Peggi Fournier, Jeff Munson and Nina Gaby at RL Thomas Reunion in 2023

I go on Facebook to post Margaret Explosion gigs and this time I found some photos from last weekend’s reunion of RL Thomas high school. I snatched these two of Peggi and Jeff Munson. They’re shown talking to Nina Gaby (in the foreground.) I was sitting to Nina’s right and am thankfully out of the frame.

The reunion was a two part affair and we went to the first half, in the dismal upstairs room of the American Legion on Ridge Road. There were plenty of complaints about the stairs during the cocktail hour but it was mostly joyous, “happy to be alive” conversation. It was another opportunity for Doug Click, one of the first friends I made when I moved to Webster in the middle of fifth grade, to remind me how we used to hit balls over the hedge in right field to catch a glimpse of Wendy Williams (eventually the vocalist for the Plasmatics) sunbathing in her back yard. According to Wikipedia “She had her first run-in with the law at the age of 15, when she was arrested for sunbathing nude. Williams attended R. L. Thomas High School in Webster at least partway through the 10th grade, but left school before graduating.”

When the food came out Peggi and I sat down with Nina and Lauri Bortle. I have reconnected with Nina because we run in the same art circles. As I vaguely remember Nina was one of those girls in high school who were too cool or self assured for me to approach. Come to find out she lived near and hung out with Charlie Coco, later one of my best friends. Charlie was always surrounded by girls, not because he was a ladies man or anything but because he sort of was one of the girls. I remember Lauri fondly from Mrs. Sweeney’s class but I was struggling to remember anything else about her. Back home I looked her up in my yearbook and found this note, written at a 45 degree angle across her senior picture, carefully avoiding her features.

“Paul, Only you could come into class late every day and always make the wrong comment and still remain so innocent. Your personality is so perfective, it’s darling. Best of everything, Lauri

When I transferred from Bishop Kearney to R.L. at the start of 11th grade a guidance counsoler told me if I took Senior English the next summer school I could graduate after my junior year. But no way. I was having too much fun. So many of the notes from my classmates were about “ball-busting” or soccer. I shudder to think what I wrote in their yearbooks. Of course, these are all revisionist memories but I found the notes from my teachers to be the most informative. An eye-opening glimpse of immaturity, something I am still working on.

From my Physics teacher – “Paul, It’s been a struggle, but we’ve almost made it. Here’s hoping. Best wishes and rots of ruck, G. Ross

From Mrs. Clapp, an English honors teacher – “You seem charming in your myopic way. I thought you were great in “Teahouse” (Teahouse of the August Moon play)

I wish I had asked all my teachers to sign my yearbook especially my favorite, Miss Gertrude Wilder (math). She was so quick and witty. She would outsmart the smart Alecs and she made an heroic effort, in a meeting after class, to get me to apply myself.

Our fortieth reunion was a blast. This one was as comfortable as an old shoe.

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