Going Undercover to a LoveFest
by Aaron Burton, The New Yorker Magazine
When my editor approached me back in March, assigning me to cover a high school reunion in Upstate New York,
I was rather baffled. And after she pointed out the tiny town of Portville on the map, all I could ask was, "What could
a story on a bunch of Appalachian hillbillies bring to this sophisticated, urban magazine?"
My cynicism was not tapered at all when she assured me that I would be visiting a legendary group of people
from a very unique place. But my interest did rise when she enthusiastically proclaimed that I'd be going undercover
with a secret identity, a secret camera, a rented pick-up truck, and total freedom with a company credit card.
I was in.
To prepare for my weekend visit to Portville and the Portville Central School Class of 1979, I called up
the school for some contact people within the class.
"I really need the phone number of the biggest person in the 1979 graduating class," I asked the secretary.
"That would probably be Craig Becker, Albino Warner, or Leon," she replied pensively. "Do you
mean size, height, or what? Back in high school or presently? The guidance office doesn't keep information like
that any more."
"I mean the most IMPORTANT and POWERFUL person in the class," I apologized.
"The class of 19-79?"
"Yes, the so-called famous class of 1979."
to be continued...