The Chicks of ’66

“Chicks” of ’66 Graduating Class



We were the largest baby boomer class to go through our school, around 60 in our high school graduating class, and most of us had been together since first grade. Many of our fathers farmed as we began first grade; very few did by the time we were seniors. We were a cliquish class, more painful for some than others, particularly the ones on the outs, which I suspect many of us felt at one time or another.

But after our 40th reunion, some of the women started meeting for dinner on the second Tuesday evening of every month, calling the group “The Chicks of ’66.” I don’t know why it took us 40 years to cross clique lines, but suddenly people seemed to enjoy being with everyone, and those present reported on how lively the meetings were. I could hardly wait to attend.

I live 2000 miles away from these dinners but had attended our reunion some five years before. It had been surprisingly tense. I suspect we all entered wondering who the old person was also walking into the restaurant, was he/she one of us? Would we recognize each other? Remember names? Would others recognize us? (and actually, many of us did not!) The conversation was stilted. It was a disappointing experience.

Then, last week: I had been unable to finesse a Tuesday evening due to work and plane schedules, but the group kindly shifted to Wednesday evening, and half the women in my class met to share food and stories. We came from California, Michigan, Missouri, and of course, Illinois, and for the first time ever I enjoyed being with everyone as each of us talked about our lives, our travels, triumphs, losses, who was not there, and why. At one point when health issues came up, a classmate, a cheerleader, now with significant health issues, reminded us that the group had promised not to talk of physical ailments when people decided to meet, and the conversation did not degenerate into that. We did reminisce and laugh with each other (not at!) about incidents that had once been embarrassing, but now with the empathy and kindness of maturity.

One woman commented that this was an uncommon discussion; I agreed. We sat together, remembering childhood and the culture we were raised in that is no more: small farm life barely exists any more. That world had cracked open, like an egg, releasing us into an adult world very different from that in which we had been raised. At the time, we only thought we were growing up.

That evening we met the women we each had become. Some of us had stayed, some had left, but we shared common ground, the knowledge of which reminded us of our roots still deep into that Illinois prairie.