Reunions always are amazing
Monday, July 29, 2013 3:46 AM
Anyone who receives those usually-annoying forwarded emails is likely familiar with the mixed feelings many people have about upcoming class reunions. Most recently I got the same reading from several sources. It was about three women, after not seeing each other for a long time, meeting up at a high school reunion. Two of the three went to great lengths to appear amazingly attractive and successful.
Through sales of a locally-written book, enough money was raised to build the new Elmore/Pilot Grove Veterans’ Memorial, and it is a beauty!
Maybe the people who forwarded that email to me knew that I was about to attend such a reunion. For us, it was not just a class reunion; it was an all-school event in conjunction with the 150th anniversary celebration of our hometown. Most classes - the oldest group there being from 1939! - took advantage of the opportunity to have separate get-togethers at various times and locations over the weekend. For Spouse Roger and me, our class met with the class ahead of us ('57 and we were '58) at the local golf course on Friday evening.
The weekend was so chock full of socializing that already at the end of that first night, my voice was becoming hoarse. Obviously, I must have talked more than I listened, though I think I did a lot of that too. There were just so many people with whom I wanted to catch up. And that was just the first afternoon and night.
The next evening there were over 500 people in the old school's gymnasium for dinner, and I know there were even more people around who had skipped the dinner for one reason or another!
On Saturday a.m., we got out and about fairly early so we could attend the dedication of a new memorial at the cemetery. Through sales of a locally-written book, enough money was raised to build the new Elmore/Pilot Grove Veterans' Memorial, and it is a beauty! I was very interested in seeing it because I had three aunts who were in the military during World War II, and whose names should be on it. Fortunately, most of the speakers at that event were brief, because most of us were standing, in the sun, and it was getting hotter as the morning went on.
The highlight of the afternoon was the parade. Again our two classes joined resources to enter a unit. It consisted of a flatbed wagon pulled by a classmate's tractor, which looked as if it had been washed and waxed for the occasion. We had the choice of walking by the vehicle or riding on the wagon, and we asked our high school English teacher and spouse to ride with us. They were quite happy to do so and we enjoyed having VIPs along with us.
The signs on our "float" identified our graduation years, and there were some comments from parade watchers that they hadn't even been born then. Others noted that we kept up a pretty brisk pace; what they didn't add, out loud at least, was "a brisk pace for being so old!" But we had a lot of laughs, remembering that its decorations were a far cry from when we were in high school. Back then we pulled hundreds of pieces of facial tissue through chicken wire to create our "real" float.
We made a stop at the local museum and now I know where the items I have saved over the years will soon go. We groaned about the band uniform on display there, reminiscing about those all-wool garments that we wore in summer parades. We especially remembered the North Iowa Band Festival, where the parade was at least a two-mile march, in full uniform, complete with a heavy hat, in 80 to 90 degree sunshine.
When over the years people have asked where I am from, I have of course replied that I grew up in Elmore, Minn. Usually the response is that they have never heard of that town. I go on to say that there are three very famous people from Elmore. When they ask whom, I first reply that Walter Mondale is from there. That usually generates a little conversation, and then I will volunteer another: T. Eugene Thompson. That stimulates quite a bit of conversation, since all Minnesotans of a certain age know about him.
Most people do not get any further than that before the conversation turns to something else. Once in awhile a good listener will say, "What about the third one?" to which I reply, "Well, me, of course." And I explain that my claim to fame is that I have married 20 percent of the males in my high school graduating class. Sometimes I have to explain that it was a very small class, with only 10 males total.
All three of the famous people from Elmore were in attendance at this get-together; Walter Mondale was even the featured speaker at the dinner on Saturday evening when once more we were packed, with no air conditioning, into the former school gymnasium. It was so hot that we did not dally after dessert; instead most of us moved to the main street for a street dance. To be honest, even though the band was the popular "White Sidewalls," there was more talking (again) than dancing!
I didn't get time to do much gussying up before this weekend event, I didn't lose any weight, and I didn't even get my fingernails polished. But after all, that wasn't the point of this get-together. I guess by now we all realize that we have aged -together - and we are what we are. That's a good place to be in life.