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Linda Whitted Shea: We are blessed to have silver and gold friends

OMG! Say it isn’t so. Hamburg High School Class of ’66 will soon be holding its 50th reunion. Wow, where have I been? And more importantly, what have I been doing?

If it’s true that we sleep one-third of our lives, then I have been sleeping for well over 20 years. That may explain my short-term memory loss. However, I can vividly recall my graduation ceremony 50 years ago.

The late Jack Kemp, revered Buffalo Bills quarterback and, later, respected congressman, was our commencement speaker. He touched on the importance of having a sense of humility and told of the day the Bills won the AFC Championship. He was “Talkin’ Proud” all that Sunday evening until his lovely, devoted wife, Joanne, reminded him it was time to take out the garbage.

He also told our class of nearly 300 students to take a good look around the crowded auditorium, for in all probability we would never see more than half of our classmates again. How could that be possible when we had just spent the past four years together, nearly every single day, getting to know one another by name?

The old saying, “make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver, and the other gold,” is so true.

We are fortunate enough to call ourselves snowbirds, spending six months in Florida each year. We always anticipate warm weather and sharing time with our silver friends. However, come May 1, we look forward to returning to Western New York and our family and friends.

The transformation of Buffalo is nothing short of astounding. I can recall feeling a bit embarrassed when out-of-town guests came for a visit. We would immediately head for Niagara Falls and then Niagara-on-the-Lake. That no longer happens. We are excited to show off Canalside, Larkinville, Graycliff and all of the beautiful architecture surrounding our destination city. Not to mention the wonderful new restaurants popping up everywhere.

I grew up for the most part in the bucolic Village of Hamburg. If you haven’t visited it lately, you should. Mayor Thomas Moses, a former classmate of ’66, has done a tremendous job of revitalizing the village. It was a wonderful place to grow up – having a true sense of community that still remains.

Mom was a stay-at-home mom, always making sure there was room for a friend or two to stay for dinner or for the night. I hope she knew how much we loved and appreciated her.

When we moved to the village, Dad promised to buy me a horse to help ease the pain of leaving my friends from that faraway place called South Buffalo. That was all the enticement I needed, for at age 12 I was horse-crazy. He followed through on his promise, though I think he traded a typewriter for good old “Buck.” At the time, I thought he was the most beautiful creature in the world but now, looking at old photos, not so much.

I am still not sure where all those years went. We had our fair share of successes and more than our share of losses. But as Frank Sinatra would say, “That’s life.” I would not trade one second of it.

So to all you Class of ’66 members, I strongly encourage you to attend your 50th reunion. Reminisce with your gold friends and count your blessings. It appears Kemp was correct. For various reasons, more than half of our class members will not be celebrating with us.

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