Jay Radcliffe submitted his impressions of our wonderful reunion, see below . . . . .
HANDSHAKES, HUGS, KISSES AND TEARS
Where were you between October 7th, and October 10th, 1999?
If you were at the Sheraton Four Points in Atlanta then you undoubtedly engaged in one or more of those activities listed above, and probably did so many times over.
How many times did you hear, "Oh, my gosh, isn't that so-and-so?” I think I said those words at least 15 or 20 times. How many times did you hear, "Hey, who is that?" which was followed by, "That's so-and-so", which was followed by, "Wow, you're right. I’ve got to go say hello".
However, the one question that none of us had to ask was, "Hey, isn't that Mr. West?” We all recognized him immediately, and we couldn't help but smile. Then, when we realized that he recognized us, our smile became a full-faced grin.
We can all thank Sandy for her effort in surprising us by having our favorite Teacher, Coach, Principal, and Friend there. And, yes, those words were capitalized out of the respect we have for this wonderful man.
For some of us, this was a reunion of the "other" reunion held back in 1979, and for those of you who opted not to count, it really was 20 years ago. (Let's all give out a collective groan). Yet, for those who were making their first trip to a GTMO reunion, it was a gap of 40+ years in many cases. (I think the groan just got louder).
Forty plus years since we had seen each other! I'm not sure that any of us, during our GTMO days, even thought we'd live forty years, let alone be seeing each other that many years later. But, there we were. Some of us looked exactly the same as we did at GTMO. Well, maybe there was a little less hair, and maybe a few more pounds, but there was no mistaking those faces. Others of us, of course, had made wholesale changes in our physical selves. The truly wonderful thing was that once we began talking there was no doubt as to who we were.
We were the same as we used to be. The Time Machine had zipped us back, and the clowns back then were still clowns. The nicest of us back then were still just as nice, and that one miserable little kid was still miserable, and for that I apologize.
"Reunion" must be a synonym for "memories", and that must translate into "stories". How many stories did you hear, and how many did you tell? If someone had been there taping each story, and made the tape available to the general public, then a bunch of us would be in deep trouble. The public might have thought that GTMO was a secret military term for "the whole damned group is nuts", and they would be delightfully right.
As with all reunions, we renewed old friendships, and made new ones of those we only knew by name or reputation when we were on our favorite Rock.
Forty years of Time, forty years of Life, forty years of Memories, and they were all there in about forty seconds. So we thank you, GTMO, for keeping us bound together over the years, for giving us such a truly great Rock on which we built the foundation of our lives, and for helping us realize that the fragility of Life is made stronger through our friendships. Those few days in October blended with those many years of memories, and it all happened with Handshakes, Hugs, Kisses and Tears.