Sunday, November 4, 2018

And what's more, the school didn't look the same!

Well, it was Sunday, 9-23-2018...the third and final day of the Class of 1973's 45th get-together in the Des Moines area.

This time, the final major activity of the reunion was scheduled to take place at the very school itself: West Des Moines Dowling Catholic High School. 

Nope...not a pep rally.

No, not another sports event.

It was a Mass.

And two of our classmates- now men of the cloth- were tabbed to say that morning's Mass.  

But was time for interested classmates to tour the very school that gave so many of us so many great, great memories. (This was the tour that was originally scheduled for the previously Friday afternoon.)

And, thanks to a recent construction project, the physical plant at 1400 Buffalo Rd. is bigger and better than before. 

Our host for the understandably brief tour was Ron Gray...the longtime (and legendary) DCHS head wrestling coach who's now the longest-tenured teacher in school history. 

He's been at it for a whopping 41 years!

We got a chance to tour the hallways (lockers, trophy case, and all) and Ron's classroom. (By the addition to currently being the school's head boys' golf coach and head girls' golf coach, he teaches economics and social studies.)

What if we'd had this kind of a classroom back in the late 1960s and early 1970s?'s not really the size of the classroom (or style of classroom) that counts.

Now it was 10:30 AM...and time for Mass.

I hadn't been to an out-of-town one since Saturday, 6-11-2005.

It's a long story (and a possible blog post in itself), but after high school, I largely stopped going to church (only to go back to Mass on visits to Des Moines while an Iowa State student). 

I'd had my fill of the downbeat messages the monsignor at the Catholic church I was going to in DSM was giving his parishioners. (Whenever the church wasn't taking in enough money to suit the monsignor there, he'd tell the churchgoers: "You're throwing defiles in God's face!")

I switched to the Unitarian Universalist Church not long after I first moved to Omaha in 1980...only because First Unitarian is within walking distance of where I first lived when I moved to the Big O on 8-2-1980. (I moved back here on 3-29-1997.)

Moved to Sioux City, IA on 6-30-1988 to manage a used-record-and-tape store...and spent the next five years and two months shunning church services.

All this time, though, I'd still go into church basements and get some practice in on those congregations' old-fashioned upright pianos (something I started doing in October 1976, back in Ames). 

Well, that all changed in February 1994.

That was the month I decided to fill up the hole in my life and join the United Methodist Church.

I've felt more comfortable as a United Methodist than I ever did as a Catholic. 

Even so, that wasn't going to stop me from participating in a Mass that Jim Gould and Dennis Wright were to preside over.

It was supposed to be Mike Peters teaming up with fellow Catholic priest Jim G., but Mike P. got called away to another assignment.

So Dennis W., now a deacon in the Des Moines area, took Mike's place. (I remember Dennis' cartoons in the school newspaper...the publication originally called The Aquin but renamed The Paper once the old, all-boys' Dowling merged with the all-girls' St. Joseph Academy in time for the 1972-73 school year and set up shop on Buffalo Rd. in the 'burbs.)  

The Mass took place at DCHS' brand-new St. Joseph Chapel, a much bigger one than the chapel that originally came with the new Dowling.

And it went beautifully...from Julie Russell Craven's music (she played the hymns on an electronic keyboard) to Jim G.'s homily to everything else. 

Once the service- meant to honor the 29 classmates who've passed away- was finished, we went right to the school lobby for coffee and donuts.

This coffee-and-donuts session was more enjoyable than those I was able to attend when I was younger and going to a church whose top priest railed away about all those defiles. 

Tom Meyer, Ron G., Jim G., Dennis W., Julie R., hubby David Craven, and I got together with Joni Hockins Edwards, Lisa Lamberto (one of Joni's fellow cheerleaders), Meg Tibbetts Williams, Margo Munoz O'Meara (never had a chance to see her at the other reunion events), and so many other classmates to talk up old memories and current goings-on. 

We had such a great time that our time together ran into overtime...and the DCHS Class of 1973's 45th Reunion broke up around 12:15 PM.

All I can say is:

Please, please, PLEASE let circumstances allow me to get to the 50th Class of '73 get-together! 

About that Mass I went to on 6-11-2005: The Mass was actually a wedding of Matt and Liz, a young couple I met earlier that year at the Omaha Children's Museum. (From October 1997 to June 2006, I volunteered at the OCM, where they let me entertain visitors of all ages on an old-fashioned upright piano in the museum's music room. The best part of it all: When I wasn't playing, I got a chance to hear the children and some of the adults they brought with them tickle those ancient keys.) 

After they heard me play, Liz and Matt invited me to perform at their wedding reception. I said "yes," and on the second Saturday in June that year, I traveled to Shenandoah, IA, to watch the two of them become husband and wife.

I'm Jim Boston...thanks for reading this blog!

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