Early Thursday morning I will depart for Boys Town to attend my 40th class reunion. It is a trip I have looked forward to for the past year; though at times it appeared doubtful I would be able to make the trip. This is only the 3rd reunion I will be attending in 40 years and only the 6th return trip to Boys Town. The last trip was on July 4, 2003, when I made a day trip there with my cousin Carol to show her where I grew up for seven years.
After experiencing 14 moves within the Michigan foster care system from the day of my birth until age eleven, the system gave up on me and decided to send me off to become someone elses worry…to Boys Town, Nebraska.
Though during my 7 years at Boys Town I did not believe it was a great decision…twenty years later I realized it was the best decision the system ever made for me.
Boys Town became my first stable enviorment. It became the place where I got a moral compass, a good education and the opportunity to further my education after high school…to name just a few of the positives offered me. I realized Boys Town had become my childhood home for me and I continue to call Boys Town my home today; 40 years later! I dedicate four chapters of my book to my years at Boys Town as well as one of my past visits there and how Boys Town has changed since I was there.
Though Boys Town has changed greatly over the years since my years there, some for the better and some I feel for the worse, it is still a place where one who is open to what they have to offer and take advantage of the opportunities offered them can change their lives for the better.
There will be alumni of Boys Town there this weekend from 1939 to 2008…each coming back to the place they called home; some for just a year or so while those of us prior to the mid 70’s spent much of our youth there.
There were 126 members of my class in 1968, only 108 of us remain today as we have lost 18 of our brothers since then. This will be the largest gathering of the class of 1968 since our graduation. Most of us are reaching 60 or already have. We do not know how many such gatherings remain for us. It is an opportunity for us to renew our friendships, share old “war” stories of our fays there.
I will be reconnecting with some I have had no contact with for these past 40 years while others I will be renewing friendships since I last saw them in 1997…the last reunion I was able to attend.
The system made a lot of mistakes during my first years of life but I remain thankful they finally made the right decision the day they decided to send me to Boys Town (April 16, 1961).
One of the first places I will stop, as I have done during each visit home is the tomb of Fr. Flanagan (founder of Boys Town) in the chapel. There I will say a silent prayer thanking him for founding Boys Town and giving me the opportunity to have a place called home for seven years.
I will blog about the trip upon my return home here in North Dakota next week.