HUGHESTOWN — Members of the Pittston Area class of 1979 can “keep in touch” via the Facebook page they’ve set up, but they realize the value of a handshake, a hug, and a long conversation over a hot meal and a cold beer; and that affinity for personal connection — in this case reconnection — keeps them organizing and participating in class reunions.
This year’s 36th anniversary reunion at the Hughestown Hose Company brought about 50 people together on July 18, and the peculiar anniversary (reunions are typically held every five or 10 years after commencement) was fittingly catered by the Peculiar Culinary Company, which shares the same building as the fire hall.
“It’s a little unusual,” said Susan Socash, a member of the reunion planning committee that organized the gathering. Socash, who acted as DJ for the evening, explained that the impetus for a 35th reunion came a bit late in 2014, so the committee decided to schedule a proper celebration this year.
While proper, the reunion was not formal, reflecting the personality of the class. Those in attendance wore shorts and T-shirts or sundresses, with the occasional colorful polo shirt acting as the fanciest of attire.
“Our class wasn’t one to be dressed up,” said Tony Birillo of Pittston. He called the group casual, and said that he enjoys seeing his old friends and reminiscing.
Even the menu, which included pulled pork, fried chicken and salads, communicated a relaxed, picnic-like atmosphere, although the Peculiar Culinary Company’s creative take on traditional comfort foods brought something original to the buffet table.
Birillo sat, enjoying that food, which he said was “excellent,” and catching up with a table full of friends including Tom Lentz of Exeter.
Lentz, who had missed all of the class’s reunions until the 30th, said he’s found an appreciation for staying connected to his classmates.
“To come back and see how everybody’s doing is awesome,” he said. “Everybody’s healthy. Their kids are growing up. Everybody did well.”
Birillo and Lentz were not in the only group that was solidifying old bonds. Jim Fina, Sue Banos and Sharon Greco stood together, and they were catching up after a long time apart.
According to the trio of friends, none of them had seen either of the other two since they graduated in 1979.
Fina, the class treasurer who was also on the planning committee, said that classmates rarely get a chance to see one another unless they hold these reunions, but that people often reconnect through the class events and continue to stay in touch.
“We get together and we have a good time, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Fina who also called the planning for the event a “group effort” and gave credit to his classmates who were willing to organize and participate.
Banos, a Mountain Top resident, and Greco, who is originally from Avoca but travelled in from Wylie, Texas for a vacation and to attend the reunion, talked about how close their group of friends was in high school and how it was a special day for them in terms of being able to spend time together in person.
“If you work in town, you get to see those people’s (classmates) families, and sort of keep connected,” said Banos, “but it’s not the same as seeing Jim (Fina) next to me, and Grecs (Greco). Oh my goodness!”
Greco added, “I’ve been in Texas 16 years now, so the only time I get to see these guys is on Facebook, so it’s really nice to physically see them.”
As the casual crowd grew even more comfortable, past stories of laughs and getting into trouble as adolescents began to fill the room. Old friends reconnected and those who see each other often shared even more memorable moments together.
Gino Cadden of Pittston is the president of class of 1979, and according to him the class experienced their “best reunion ever.”
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