I graduated 30 years ago from Piner High School in Santa Rosa. Piner was the “agricultural” school in Sonoma County’s largest city.
Our 30 year reunion is planned for October this year. There have been meet-ups once each month in advance, the latest was yesterday at Riverfront Regional Park on Eastside Road west of Windsor, CA.
The meet-ups leading up to the reunion are getting bigger and better, and the reunion itself will be amazing largely because of Kim and Bill. Kim Finitz runs our reunion/alumni site piner79.com and has tracked down 234 of our classmates. Bill Towner runs our facebook alumni site and 65 classmates have joined the group.
At our 5 year reunion, people hadn’t changed much and hadn’t done much yet. At our 20 year reunion, some people had changed too much and we had all done too much…I could remember too few of my classmates but everybody seemed to remember me.
I was active in high school. I was in student government, theater and sports. I was an athletic geek, a rah rah who visited the smoking grounds. I was comfortable everywhere, and knew everyone. 20 years after graduation, I had forgotten the connections I had with some of my classmates from so long before, and I could not tap into memories that, at least that night, seemed lost permanently.
The internet and social networking sites, most specifically facebook, have been such a great aid to me and other alumni. We now have connections reestablished before the big reunion, putting our new more experienced faces to our names, rekindling memories of shared experiences, and creating new experiences will make this the best reunion yet.
Yeserday I saw Derek Clark, Jeff Dahlquist, Doug Duffield, Kim Finitz (Clark), Linda Forthuber (Kynoch), Todd Grames, Susan Greening, Robert Haney, Keith Lewis, Marie Lovell, Deena McConnell, Karen Mishler (Togrimson), Keith Robinson, Jack Sather, Bill Towner, Tim Vigil, and Kary Witt. There were spouses, significant others, children and even grandchildren too.
I also got to see four additional classmates, Cynthia Johnson (Wise), Felecia McGill (Cordova), Shannon Smyth (Loranger) and David Yokoyama, the night before thanks to Derek and Kim.
I loved seeing everyone, but had the most fun talking about lacrosse with some of my old team mates. In the 9th grade, our cross country coach encouraged us to play lacrosse as a form of cross training, running for an hour without thinking of it as running. We, a group of tiny freshmen, were put in the men’s division of the Northern California Lacrosse Association. We didn’t yet have decent stick skills, and we were pummeled. We lost our first game 33-0, and the only person on the team with any skill left the game early with a broken arm. We played against adult teams for two years, getting better, and finally were able to play even games, managing to win one or two. When we were juniors in high school, our team was put in a high school team division. For the next two years, we were amazingly good. Our competition had gotten smaller, less skilled, and less experienced while we had become larger, more skilled and more experienced. We also had an enormous chip on our collective shoulders about having suffered through two years in the wrong age division. We played with a ferocity that the other teams didn’t expect. We surprised ourselves with lop sided wins. We liked being dominant and practiced more. We developed a bit of a swagger. We started keeping records of spectacularly brutal hits. Collectively, we remember our grandest act of arrogance when we set up a one on one shot on goal by our goalie; this led to a hockey type brawl and an early end to the game. Our other shared memory was our worst physical beating at the hands of a team that decided to play against us in our own style, but with even more extreme violence. We had people leave the field that day with a ruptured spleen, while others were forced to carry on with concussion, or a 100 mph goal shot to the balls.
I wondered to myself how many of us could still handle a stick. It would be fun to pass the ball around, if less fun to run after a missed ball.
I had to answer questions about Murphy-Goode’s Really Goode Job for each classmate I saw this weekend. I had sent notes to every Piner ’79 alumni that is on facebook. Kim did me one better and passed on my plea to all 234 classmates that have been tracked down on our alumni website. You reap what you sew, and so I explained 20 times what the job was about, explained that votes don’t determine who gets the job but can’t hurt making the winery more aware of me, and thanked everyone for the Piner push. I received a ton of votes from Piner 79 grads, their family and friends; many people voting from more than 1 email address. I continue to marvel and the kindness, and complete willingness so many people are showing me in the support and help I am getting in my effort.
Another classmate, John Coons, who I knew probably back to the 4th grade 38 years ago, took notice of my attempt to land what I have referred to as my “dream job” with Murphy-Goode, made note of my qualifications in my video application, and contacted a Calistoga winery owner that he knows on my behalf attempting to help me get a job in wine marketing. I don’t think other wineries are looking to give someone the same position that Murphy-Goode is, but I am incredibly touched by John’s kindness.
I asked for help, for votes. John saw the plea for help and went farther. I have written many times that we are not alone. Ask and people will help.
I continue to be humbled to be the recipient of so much help, kindness, sweetness.
I had a great time this weekend visiting with my high school classmates, I look forward to seeing as many as possible at the July meet-up. I need to go check my work calendar and request a day that I am in town.
Yesterday, on the way home from Windsor with my wonderful son Charlie, we drove out far into the Alexander Valley and parked at the winery of Robert Young. Robert Young passed away Friday. Young was the patriarch of the Alexander Valley wine growers, replacing his orchards with vineyards long before vineyards were fashionable. Sonoma County’s Chateau St. Jean vineyard designated one of their chardonnays as Robert Young Vineyard before anyone else identified single vineyard wines in that way.
If not for Chateau St. Jean and Robert Young, I would have been selling Alexander Valley Chardonnay at Windsor Vineyards instead of the Murphy Ranch Chardonnay I did sell.
I passed my respects yesterday to Robert Young in his vineyards.