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It's true - some things get better with age

We were Cold War babies who came of age in the time of Woodstock, many born into military families, others the friends of military children.

We were Cold War babies who came of age in the time of Woodstock, many born into military families, others the friends of military children.

Growing up military then, as now, meant times of periodic personal upheaval, as families were posted from one encampment to another, often clear across the country and sometimes overseas.

The kids frequently had to say goodbye to established friends, then make new ones in unfamiliar places. Occasionally, though not often enough, we'd meet old friends in our new surroundings.

But here, at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, we became politically and socially aware together, shared new musical interests, developed our first romantic relationships, grew long hair to the annoyance of our parents and teachers, and wore "mod" clothes, faded jeans and platform shoes.

Some espoused hippie ideals and some smoked pot, and to varying degrees we almost all challenged authority in our own ways.

A few developed a passion for cars and motorcycles that endures today.

We hung out at the local community centre and as awkward teens attended one or more of three local high schools, cross-pollinating growth and life experiences.

After school, some stayed and built their lives in the Valley; others left to eventually settle across Canada, the United States, and around the globe. Some enlisted.

And here in the summer of 2012, almost 400 CFB Greenwood "alumni" were gathered again, at a reunion dubbed Greenwoodstock, looking into the eyes of people most hadn't seen, and in many cases whose names we hadn't heard, in four decades.

Some had only to cross the virtual street to be there; others came from as far as China and Italy.

Long story short, Greenwoodstock was a big success for all concerned. Old friendships were renewed and new ones made, long forgotten memories were vividly rekindled and plans were floated to do it all again, maybe next year, maybe in five years; at this age, no one wants to wait another 40.

For myself, Greenwoodstock closed several incomplete circles, revived feelings and emotions not felt for years, rebuilt a few bridges I had thought burned and awoke a muse that had been dormant for decades.

And peripherally, on an automotive note, it reintroduced me to a nameplate I'd first encountered soon after leaving Greenwood and striking out on my own: the compact Ford Fiesta.

In 1976, with my own car broken and a need to be somewhere else, I rented a first-generation Fiesta Mark 1 to get me there.

The model was then new to North America, imported from Ford of Europe, where small cars had already been the norm for decades.

In an age of domestic "compacts" bearing names like Dart, Pinto and Vega, the spunky little Fiesta - possessed of an eager spirit, lightweight construction, lively acceleration and adroit handling - was a revelation as to what a small car could be.

In short, the front-wheel-drive, three-door hatchback was fun to drive, a quality its competition singularly lacked.

An 84-horsepower, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, mated to a slick four-speed manual transaxle, revved freely to redline, and the four-wheel independent suspension gave it ride and cornering attributes that the competition just could not emulate.

Thirty-six years on, the 2013 Fiesta has grown, matured and broadened its appeal; much, come to think of it, like those who attended Greenwood-stock.

Its features are smoother, softer, much more aerodynamic and the vehicle itself is less prone to committing rash acts.

Still bearing the original's front-engine, front-drive configuration, but with 36 more horsepower and two more doors, the current Fiesta features safety systems and performance that the original could not have offered at any price in its day, when crumple-zone construction was in its infancy and airbags had yet to be invented.

Where the Mark 1 was virtually devoid of electronic assistance of any kind, the 2012 SE model bristles with more computing power than Darth Vader's Death Star.

Direct electronic fuel injection achieves precise metering of air/fuel mixtures for lower consumption, more complete burning and cleaner exhaust at all speeds and under all load conditions.

Standard equipment in all Fiestas includes keyless entry, auto-locking doors, electronic stability control; dual-stage front row airbags, driver knee bag and side-impact and side-curtain airbags as well as four-wheel anti-lock brakes and on-board, real-time tire pressure monitoring.

The SE, the middle child in the Fiesta lineup, adds standard cruise control, premium sound system, and Ford's latest-generation SYNC infotainment system. It puts the power to the road through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Interior space has similarly evolved to where the Fiesta is a comfortable and inviting place for four adults or a family of five, with enough hatch space to handle all their luggage and/or athletic equipment.

My white test car included a $500 "graphic tattoo" on its rear flanks that seemed especially appealing to women attending the reunion; I thought it detracted from the Fiesta's clean lines.

Like those who marvelled at Woodstock as kids, and who 40 years later gathered again for Green-woodstock as adults, the youthful Fiesta exemplifies the axiom that things just get better with age.