Two essentials for a successful high school reunion:

• Name tags

• Large printing on those name tags

Neither memory nor visual acuity improves with the passage of years, and when the time that has passed since graduation is approaching 60 years, that is a dramatic reality.

But there’s one thing that should be cause for celebration: the overall improvement in health for our generation of chronologically gifted citizens.

A few days ago, the Summerlin Institute Classes of 1957 and 1958 held a joint reunion. Why those two classes?

“We had a lot of intermarriage,” quipped Jimmy Whidden, president of the Class of ‘57.

The event drew 28 alumni and 14 spouses and significant others, and when the celebration drew to a close, one of our classmates pointed out to me how fortunate we were to have so many healthy classmates remaining among our ranks.

At 78, I was the baby of the bunch — the youngest member of the Class of 1958 — with a growing number having turned 79. Members of the Class of 1957 were mostly 79 and 80.

Marriages that have lasted 50 years or longer — once a milestone of remarkable attainment — are hardly a rarity these days.

Early in my journalistic career, say in the 1960s and 1970s, our newspaper photographed and interviewed members of our community who had reached 50 years of marriage. As a general rule, only one member of the couple (more often the wife) was still mentally sharp, while the other was showing significant loss of mental acuity.

Yes, we have lost many classmates in the 60-plus years since we graduated, and some who remain with us are less than physically or mentally robust.

In my continuing project of cleaning out volumes of papers accumulated in our newspaper business of 75-plus years, I found a column I wrote about Dad on the approach of his 80th birthday in 1995.

He was in the second of what would be three retirements — none of which took — and had circled the globe more times than America’s early astronauts.

I reflected how fortunate he and I both were that he was still able to take an active role in the business, while leaving the day-to-day management responsibilities to his son. Ours was a great partnership.

Anybody who uses the term “80 years young” makes himself or herself look pretty silly. Eighty ain’t young, but thanks to advances in medical science and healthier lifestyles, it can still be a happy, active milestone.

(S. L. Frisbie is retired. A few weeks ago, he read this observation: “What if the world ended tomorrow, and the only things you had left were the things you gave thanks for yesterday.” There’s a great message there.)


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