I guess you’d say reunions of any kind are nostalgic events. Whether it is High School, College, or family, if you did not have fond memories of the group you would not attend.
Last week I went to a reunion of a former employer. This was a bank that I had worked at for 13 years. I had worked 7 years at the subsidiary Mortgage Company and 6 years at the parent so I knew a lot of people there. The entire thing was put together via Facebook. (When kids go to bed nowadays and say their prayers they now say God bless Grandma and Grandpa, and Mark Zuckerberg…) Some enterprising soul started a Facebook page last year called “I Once worked at Plymouth Savings Bank”. In a matter of days it had grown in membership to about 50 and then to about 90 in a couple of months. It was to this audience that the idea was floated about a reunion. Now this was a fairly good sized bank in its day. Not BIG but when I left in 1999 there were about 450 employees between the subsidiary and parent company in Southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. It stayed at about that level until it was bought by a large regional bank and was basically dismantled. Therefore, the 90+ employees on this Facebook page is not as good as it could be.
Now I realize that this is not a new concept. I actually went to a reunion of my first employer about 15 years ago. That bank had been taken over by the FDIC about 10 years prior. Many of us had hoped there would be more get-togethers but to date that has not happened. The consensus at that event was that we had a blast! We had food, a DJ, it was great!
The Plymouth Savings reunion was much more subdued. Invitations were sent via Facebook, and there was no expectation of how many people would show. I spoke to the woman who was the de facto organizer a few days before the reunion just to say hello and see if she knew who and how many folks would be there. Her response was that she had no idea. “It might be just you and me Ed” were her exact words. We were meeting at a restaurant near the former headquarters building. I told her I had Facebook messaged many former fellow employees who were not members of the “I used to work at…” page and received mixed responses. Some loved the idea and were coming, some loved the idea but were busy. Others did not want to come because they did not like their time at the company.
I was fashionably late by about 10 minutes. When I got there about 15 people had already arrived, including 87 year-old CURRENT employee Fred. I had hired Fred as a part-time mail room worker in 1994. I knew he was in his early 70’s at the time. I forget if he told me or I noticed it on his ID. But he has been there nearly 18 years! He still goes to work 3 days a week and uses a cane to get around, but he picks the mail up at the Post Office on his way in, sorts it and delivers it desk-to-desk. He remembered me like I saw him the day before. I had not seen him since I left in 1999. I kept in touch with his mail-room partner, but just never with him. I guess I figured he would retire soon. Silly me! His mail room partner died a couple of years ago.
The total count was 48 of us, chatting about old times at work, old friends, people we wish were there and people who had worked there who had passed away. Of the 48 there were only 4 who currently worked there, including Fred. One woman drove in from New York, where she and her husband had relocated a few years ago to buy a farm. One of the maintenance guys who still works there and worked for me when I was there brought some promotion pieces with the old bank’s logo to give to people.
The whole thing was a lot of fun, at least for me and from the reaction I saw from everyone else, they had fun too. There was a lot of talk about making a bigger effort and having another reunion in the fall.
During the next couple of days, as I saw people other former employees that had not been at the reunion on Facebook I messaged them saying what a good time it was and everyone was very enthusiastic about coming to the Fall Reunion if it is held. I’m a nostalgic guy, I know I’ll be there.