It’s a very strange feeling to drive around your old home town and bump into yourself at every turn – especially when one of you is 50 years younger than the other.

In July of last year, Moncton High School’s graduating class of 1948 reassembled in that New Brunswick city to celebrate, commemorate, reacquaint, and reminisce, and the three-day gathering was an eerie mix of strangeness and familiarity.

I passed the drill hall of what had been No. 31 Personnel Depot, Royal Air Force, and pictured my sneaker-clad alter ego carrying a badminton racket to practice with pals Bob Gaskin, Bob Mills and John Keating. Earlier, during the war, it was where my 11-year-old self met Flying Officer George “Buzz” Beurling when he was transferring from the RAF to the RCAF.

The street I was on was new – made from the road-bed of the tracks which had once been part of the long-gone CNR Shops. But the name was familiar – Vaughan Harvey Drive. The father of Myrna, one of my classmates, Vaughan had summoned me to drive his brand spanking new 1948 Chev – chauffeuring Myrna to her grad photo session. Wow!

I couldn’t believe that Vaughan had bought this beautiful piece of machinery without kwing how to drive. He knew I had a licence – what he didn’t know was that I had had one solitary driving lesson in an old 1931 Chev, and had driven only twice in my life. But with the arrogance of youth I took on the job – and not a single scratch.

Turning from Highfield Street onto Main, the sight of Brunswick Hotel on the corner took me back to 1943 and a brief, unforgettable encounter with Cary Grant. To my great fortune, he was staying – or more accurately, stranded – at the hotel, his plane grounded because of weather.

Main Street. My mother and I lived there in an apartment throughout my high school years, and in the days before malls it was “the” shopping universe of Moncton. More Main Street memories: On my bicycle – VE Day – an apparition in red, white and blue, festooned with flags and crepe paper. I rode up and down the street for hours as part of the spontaneous parades and celebrations – my soldier-father was coming home.

Next – high school. MHS was amazingly modern for its time, with a 1,200-seat auditorium, an orchestra pit, and an immense stage which could be expanded into the gym behind. My humble appearances on that stage paled beside those of Paul Robeson and the Trapp Family Singers.

On the steps of the school I conjured up the ghostly image of my 17-year-old self, diploma in hand. “What the hell do I do now?” My wildest dreams could not have encompassed the events of the next 50 years.

And now the class of 48 was back – full circle.

How did they find us? The determined organizers began with relatives still living in the area, then friends, then friends of friends. They chased down old addresses, sleuthed our various career moves – racking up dozens of phone calls to ferret us out from all over North America and beyond.

We launched our reacquaintance with a reception at the Moncton Golf and Country Club, an oasis of green nestled beside the Petitcodiac River. I had an uneasy feeling as my wife and I parked the car. How will you recognize people you knew as teenagers? What do you say after all this time? Will we have anything in common? Will my closest friends from childhood still feel close?

But as each of us registered, we were given a button to wear with our graduation picture and name below and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then I was greeted by two women who had been among the class beauties of the day – and still were. I grinned, telling them I’d had a secret crush on both of them all those years ago.

“Well, why didn’t you tell us then?” they chorused, and so began an evening of magic.

Time was suspended. We were back in 1948. There was no artifice, no pretence. It didn’t matter what life had turned us into – clerk, housewife, secretary, mechanic, business tycoon, veterinarian, minister, lawyer, teacher, professor, doctor, journalist, author, accountant – we were merely classmates again as the years and trappings of a lifetime melted away.

The following day we toured our old high school, marvelling at the new additions, nostalgic of the way it had been. Amazingly, one of our former teachers, Ernest Bradley, was there to greet us. Over 90 and still sharp, the taskmaster now a gentle soul.

Two more of our former teachers joined for the Saturday evening dinner/dance – Bill and Thyra Quartermain. A live band blasted out our tunes to jitterbug and cuddle to, but most of us just wanted to mingle, reminisce, and catch up on half a century of living.

Our last formal gathering was at Moncton’s Old Free Meeting House on Sunday for an ecumenical church service. Emotions ran high as candles were lit to remember classmates no longer with us. The Reverend “Bud” Bone reminisced, Betty Lumsden played Candle in the Wind, and I sang Once Upon a Time. I looked down at the faces I had carried with me for 50 years, many looking back through tears, and I struggled as I sang the words “How we always laughed as though tomorrow wasn’t there.”

Our tomorrow is here, but what joy it was to revisit yesterday.