A Small Town Lawyer’s 50 Year Perspective – The Linsly School’s 200th Homecoming Reunion
These are the guys who visited the Maple Chalet.
Thinking that I may have mentioned my high school education and classmates a few times in my blog, I searched them for “Linsly”.
Linsly is now The Linsly School. We knew it as Linsly Military Institute, or LMI.
It was founded in 1814 by Connecticut Lawyer Noah Linsly. It survived crises. During The Great Depression, the Headmaster had to mortgage his house.
Linsly survived the post-Vietnam War era, unlike two other WV private prep schools, but exchanging the military format and uniforms for blue blazers and adding…..GIRLS! Distractions to be sure, but its standards have remained high.
Here are the links to my blog posts that mention Linsly: (You may skip them for now.)
Joe (J.B.) Shaver, our class spokesman, and my college freshman roommate.
If I am writing about my perspectives as a small town Lawyer, nothing is more appropriate than to mention Linsly again. Fifty years ago in May, at our graduation banquet, we were handed a large gold program the 150the ( Sesquicentennial ) year prominently displayed, and we were told by our speaker, “At your 50th Homecoming Celebration, you will be helping to celebrate Linsly’s 200th.”
Randy Cleavenger’s graduation present from his parents, 1964 Pontiac GTO, a “goat”.
Try as I might, I could not envision myself, my classmates, or their spouses and companions as 68 year olds.
Although we have changed a bit, here we are: http://tinyurl.com/m8qxmjp (If this is not “live”, just copy and paste it into your browser.)
Of 36 living classmates (out of 43 graduates), we had 23 participate in at least one event. Most were there for everything. Our Maple Chalet was filled with good cheer and spirit(s).
J.B. Shaver, Burt Hunter, Bruce Bandi, Ed Poor, Rick Terry, Tom Cooper, and Rick Stark in the Maple Chalet’s kitchen
But, when we were 18, with our lives ahead of us, gays and lesbians were “queers”, President Kennedy was recently deceased, and “war” was the world wars and Korea. We all had memories of a world without television. And, it was still black and white.
Who knew what Vietnam was going to do to our boomer generation? And who would believe that a legal same gender marriage ceremony would take place during the Homecoming gathering?
And, the girl I was going to fall in love with, and pursue as her “best friend” for 4.5 years until she said “Yes,” had only visited West Virginia Wesleyan once, on advice of her school guidance counselor. I had no way of knowing we would meet 3 months later. The 5oth anniversary of our first meeting in Sept. 1964 has now passed also.
What idyllic, exciting, challenging, and stressful years those 50 years have been.
I do not know when illness and death will strike. We have been fortunate there, but by watching carefully those ahead of us, I have a much better “perspective” on the next 30-50 years, than I had back in 1964 on the next 50.
My classmates were born in 1946, so we are the earliest of the boomers. If we wanted a transistor radio, soon everyone wanted one. The same with our music. If we liked Elvis, or later Country Joe and the Fish, soon everyone did. We were pampered by our families, and many of us are here because our fathers returned from war.
Linsly Military Institute had a boarding school, and Linsly had students from 5th to 12th grades. I have learned over the years, and learned even more during the last 5 days, that our teachers were not perfect, nor were our parents, nor were we. Some came to school because of “trouble at home”.
As the oldest, and the only boy, I got the privilege of attending Linsly, and my three sisters did not. In fact, a first-born boy tended to feel “entitled”. Wearing a Cadet Uniform, getting that stellar education, and being called “smart” by my teachers impacted me in a way that is not always pleasant.
Truth is I was a mediocre athlete, and, except for some good SAT and ACT scores, my grades were not where they should have been.
Each of us was inducted into Linsly’s Aviator’s Society, and got our pin and tie.
I have commented in the posts linked above the other influences on my life, family, teachers, youth groups, and church, but with six merit scholar semi-finalists in our class, 9 out of 10 of the top math test scores in the State of WV, and 3 out of the top five Latin scores in the greater Pittsburgh area, we thought we were darned smart. Fifty years, and four great days of conversations, later I know we are.
As many of us are retiring (not me for a long while I hope), we have in equal measure field grade military officers, lawyers, doctors, successful businessmen, and other professionals. We all attended college. Most of us have advanced degrees.
Not every marriage or partnership (yes, certain of our classmates are gay, and I am proud they are my classmates) have survived, but the mix of spouses and partners at the Chalet and other gatherings was a wonderful one.
We were average and above average, guys, who were provided a wonderful educational opportunity. I could have performed much better, but I am so glad that my mind was stimulated, my language, chorus, and math skills cemented, and my sense of duty and discipline trained.
My time at Linsly very much helped me get through the last 50 years. Many of us will be there for the others as we continue our journeys through life.
Finally; I would be remiss not to include the photo below of Ed Poor and his companion Ruth Medios. Ed found and made arrangements for the Maple Chalet for our 45th and 50th reunions, and in many ways was the “brains” of our collaboration. He and J.B.(Joe) Shaver simply love people and Linsly. I share that, so in spite of some “drift” over the years, we have become lifelong friends. Thanks Ed and thanks J.B. and thank you Nancy Hunter, Patty Shaver, and Ruth for allowing us this mild obsession.
This post was written by Burton Hunter
You guys never fail to amaze me! You care for each other and for the world in which you live. Each one of you have made a positive impression in today’s society — you may not realize that, but each of you have. Linsly influenced each of you but in different ways. For some it put you back on the “right track,” for others it offered a higher academic expectation that you needed, for others Linsly gave you the security and stability of family. The values of Linsly helped mold each of you into the gentlemen that you are today. Linsly reminds me of my own high school’s motto: “Enter to learn, depart to serve.” You guys did well — Linsly is definitely proud of you! It is my pleasure to know each of you! Thank you for all you guys have done!!!