Saturday evening, July 26, 1980, at the Holiday Inn in Rockville Centre, NY, our
dear old friend, Joel Pravda (whom we sadly lost in 1999), welcomed us to our
20-year reunion in the one way we would all expect from big Joel ―
And although hearing of the passing of any of our classmates (see Memorial
may bring many of us to tears,
"it's the laughter we will remember,
whenever we remember"
way Joel was.
Joel gave Howie
the microphone and allowed me to make his first sentimental reunion
speech. It went something like this:
(Click here to hear Howie's first
nostalgic reunion speech
in its entirety.)
And who could forget the sight of over 200 almost 40-year olds doing the
Stroll or the sound of them singing "ľ
and you've got ― personality."
* * * * *
By 1980, we were beginning to hear our music
(which was renamed "oldies but goodies" in the early '60s and then
shortened to just
"oldies") being played as theme music for TV commercials. (The
fact that nostalgic people of our generation were now beginning to wield some
decision-making power on Madison Avenue was, no doubt, the reason for
it.) The national
feeling of nostalgia for the '50s had escalated from its gradual beginnings in the
'60s to new heights, fueled by the 1973 movie classic, American
Graffiti, and the highly successful, long-running, and aptly titled TV show, "Happy Days" (both of
which, by the way, like Blackboard Jungle in 1955, also featured
"Rock Around the Clock" as the opening credits rolled), and the
popular TV champions of old time rock 'n' roll, Sha-Na-Na (whose popularity
soared after their unlikely triumph at Woodstock in 1969).
We had all endured the '70s, with its dull disco music, its bold and
often tasteless fashions (for example, polyester leisure suits, platform shoes
and Afros), Gilligan, the Partridge family, Charlie's Angels, the Cunninghams and
the Sweathogs, the BeeGees, the Village People (UGH!),
the death of Elvis, and
long, disgraceful lines at the gas pumps followed by Ford Pintos that were good
on gas mileage (except when they exploded) and downsized Lincolns, Buicks and Cadillacs. We
endured the ups and downs of the Apollo space program, and an escalating
divorce rate that was the apparent backlash to the dramatic rise of aggressive
Whether we liked it or not, we watched the aftermath of Nixon's Watergate,
Ford's clumsy golfing and Carter's Camp David Peace Accords, streakers, the Symbionese
Liberation Army's kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the Three
Mile Island crisis, Legionnaire's Disease
― and, of course, those
Yes, by 1980, we were ready to let the good time roll again at another reunion.
I'm Howie, and thatís the way it was.
Click on the Brownie to view the 20-year reunion photo album.
© 2000 by Howard B. Levy and