What is it that makes nearly 100 people turn out to celebrate friendships that existed 40 to 50 years ago?

What makes someone fly 1,600 miles to see familiar faces from childhood?

Whatever it is, we need to bottle that stuff and sell it, because the world needs more of it.

Two weeks ago I was given the rare chance to spend a day with my high school classmates. I hadn't seen many since a previous reunion 10 years ago. And there were others I hadn't seen in 40 years.

Reunions with classmates and childhood friends are sparked with magic. So I made sure not to miss it.

Maybe the magic has something to do with what we experienced.

Half a century ago, we were a bunch of kids growing up in a special time in history.

The 1960s and early 70s were probably the best years of our lives. But we didn't know it back then.

We stepped into high school in the Woodstock year of 69.

Big stories were unfolding. Everything seemed very important. Man stepped on the moon. The Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion.

The Watergate burglars pleaded guilty and President Richard Nixon announced that an end to the Vietnam War was in sight.

Triple Crown winner Secretariat was sold for $5.7 million. Marlon Brando won the Oscar but turned it down in support of Indians.

It was the start of space stations with the launch of Skylab and end of the run for the TV satire "Laugh-In."

Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match and Jim Thorpe was declared the best athlete of the first half-century.

But we didn't talk about any of those events at the reunion. Instead, it was more personal. We picked up where we left off best pals.

In a way, it was planned as a low-key event. But there was nothing low-key about the friendships renewed at the picnic. Everyone had a great time. For one special day, we were kids again, having fun and enjoying each other's companionship. I rode my highwheel to the pavilion.

A DJ played hand-picked tunes from the era. Yet nobody danced, and it wasn't because of arthritis.

Instead, we were consumed with hopping from table to table to say hello.

The passage of time is a common denominator. It draws us close and binds us. After 40 years, everyone has been impacted by life-changing events, including the loss of 24 fellow classmates

For the most part, the same or similar threads were woven through everyone's stories: grandchildren, divorces, retirements, deaths, empty nest syndromes. Life begins anew.

We've weathered storms. But the Class of '73 held up well. We agreed that we look mahvelous, dahling.

The picnic started at noon. I had such a good time that it was difficult to leave. Others felt the same. I arrived home almost 10 hours later, yearning for more time to spend with those smiling, warm, unpredictable characters. We can't get enough time together and so we might hold another reunion in a year or two. If that happens, count me in.

The one thing I learned is that, deep inside, we're still a bunch of young whippersnappers.

We're a bit older and hopefully wiser. But there were no old people at the reunion.

I looked around and saw free spirits, flower children, wholesome souls and idealistic minds. Most of all, I saw friends.

But I didn't see a rocking chair. Not a one.