Original Release: 9/1/2021
Not to be outdone by the guys, the gals in the Class of '76 personify what it means to be lifelong friends. It was the 1970's. A young songwriter from Brooklyn decided it was time to start singing her own music instead of writing songs for others to sing. In 1971, Tapestry was released and would go on to be No. 1 on the Billboard charts for a record breaking 15 weeks, staying on the charts for a stunning six years. Carole King spoke from her heart and she happened to be in tune with the mass psyche. She delivered exactly what we wanted to hear... so, in 1976, as we were about to leave Brush High School, these lyrics became the anthem of our graduating class. In some way, the underlying spirit of these lyrics have followed and defined our class for the 45 years that have passed since we walked across the stage at Blossom Music Center.
You just call out my name and you know wherever I am,
Over the years, small groups of our classmates remained friends... but we had our careers, our children, and our parents to care for. We were navigating marriages and relationships. In 2009, our kids were beginning to "adult" and the time we spent invested in their daily lives was less and less. This left us more free time to reconnect. One day, I was perusing Facebook and saw a post from Kathy Disodoro Rapp. With a class of close to 750 kids, we certainly didn't all know each other. I knew who Kathy was, but I didn't know Kathy.
According to Facebook, she was looking to see if anyone knew of any way that she could get a 1976 yearbook. I had some connections with the Alumni Association and managed to find her a yearbook. I also knew, through Facebook, some of the friends Kathy hung around with at Brush and I contacted them and asked them if they wanted to sign Kathy's yearbook before I mailed it to her. They did. Kathy was so thrilled to receive a signed yearbook that she sent me a lovely "thank you" gift and contacted me to meet her for lunch the next time she was in Cleveland. Thus, at the age of 51, we became "new high school girlfriends". The togetherness and relationships that have formed, been reestablished and blossomed since that Facebook post have been an amazing blessing.
In 2013, some of us started to gather annually on a Saturday night in the middle of winter to attend a fundraiser sponsored by the Junior Women's Club of Mentor. Paula Paradise Stuebbe is a member of this volunteer organization whose mission is to create change and contribute to community improvement through volunteerism. The evening includes raffle baskets, sideboards, dinner and dancing. And, of course, lots and lots of chatter and laughter. Then, in October of 2016, to celebrate our 58th trip around the sun, a group of us gathered, to spend a fabulous fall weekend in my summer home at Atwood Lake. Both the fundraiser, and the Atwood weekend, have become annual events that everyone looks forward to. A smaller group of us have spent time together playing in Florida. We meet for lunches... we meet for dinners... we meet for beverages. The ensuing stories, laughs, tears, and conversation are priceless.