For Karl Riesterer, a West Hempstead resident for many decades, holding onto old friendships is a priority. And each year for the past 13 years, he makes that fact known when he opens his Southold home to host a West Hempstead High School reunion for some of the people he grew up with. “Many of the ‘kids’ are around 80 years old,” said Riesterer. “The group is getting smaller each year, but they come from around the country and spend time visiting old friends and family still living on Long Island.”
About 55 people that graduated the high school from the mid 1950s through the early 1960s joined in the festivities at Riesterer’s home, with some bringing food, and others a bottle of booze.
“I was in charge when we did the 50th anniversary, and had everyone’s name,” said Riesterer. “We didn’t want to go to a restaurant because you have to make a commitment — and everyone kind of like this setting anyway. It’s more comfortable.”
Riesterer, a West Hempstead High School graduate from 1955, said he was the second graduating class from the high school, which officially opened in 1954. People find it rare, he said, that his friends of long ago are still so close. “We’ve gone on cruises together, we have reunions in Florida. We have a sense of camaraderie,” he said. “It’s really very nice.”