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Our 50th Reunion

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And here are but a few of the stories overheard at Our 50th Reunion... Editor's Note:  We want your stories...we need your stories...so if you have a reunion story to share, let us know about it by sending an e-mail to crow@vt.edu ...Bruce Downey...and let us know of your reactions to the stories presented here, whether favorable or unfavorable. 

Submitted by Bob Golseth as he rememered it from Milt Lynnes' first telling of this story--- " Bob Golseth's family first moved to Elmhurst while we were all in sixth grade.  On Bob's first day at Hawthorne Elementary School, Mrs. Brobst, our sixth grade teacher, asked Bruce Downey to introduce Bob to the class and show him to his seat.  Well everybody knew that Bruce had always been the biggest kid in our class, so when Bruce rose from his desk and strode up to the front of the room to greet Bob, a collective gasp rolled up and down the aisles---How could this be ?  Bob Golseth was bigger than Bruce Downey ! Editor's note: To see for yourself just how big Bob Golseth was in relation to Bruce Downey back in those days, take a look at the Hawthorne Jr. Hi 8th grade 'Heavyweight" Basketball Team picture at "Our York52 Homepage."
Submitted by Bruce Downey--- "We were in the Food Management Dining Room for the York tour, eating a lunch prepared and served by York students, all of whom were appropriately dressed for the occasion.  There were actually two groups of us, so we were only half of the York Class of 1952 contingent when in walked Caroline Johnson Jackson.  Caroline lives in California and was staying at her brother's house in Wheaton, IL.  Caroline was drenched.  It had been raining, quite heavily most of the morning.  Caroline had driven in from Wheaton and got lost in trying to find York, so she got caught in the worst of the weather because she had to park her car quite a ways away from the school and had no umbrella.  She was obviously quite miserable in all her wet clothes.  Well, earlier that day, as our two groups boarded the school buses to go from the hotel to York High School for the luncheon and tour, I had on a light-weight cotton pull-over shirt/sweater over my short sleeved sports shirt.  (You can see where this story is going, can't you).  But I had to shed that light weight shirt/sweater on the bus because of the oppressive humidity that had built up before we ever pulled away and got the air conditioning going.  So there I was with an extra "shirt" that I knew I would then have to carry around the rest of the day.  I wasn't looking forward to keeping track of that extra shirt one bit.  So, when I saw that Caroline was in need, I pulled my extra shirt out from underneath the table where I was sitting, held it up, got Caroline's attention, and told her to take her top off and put mine on.  She said, "Right here ?" and the place exploded with laughter.  Being the gentlemen that I am, I then said "No, go find a ladies room and do it."  And so she did, and when she came back into the lunchroom I received a great big hug for my gallantry.

The following item was sent by Lynn Juul Thompson to Bruce Downey as a post-reunion story. Lynn sensed that, like herself, I too might also be a "KEEPER" because of my work on this website.  And if you've gotten this far into this website, read on, because you too are probably a "KEEPER...".

"Some things you keep. Like good teeth, warm coats, bald husbands . . . They're good for you, reliable and practical and so sublime that to throw them away would make the garbage man a thief. So you hang on, because something old is sometimes better than something new, and
things you know are often better than the unknown.

These are my thoughts; they make me sound old, old and tame, and dull at a time when everybody else is risky and racy and flashing all that's new and improved in their lives. Whether its new careers, new cars, new bodies,
or new spouses, the world is dizzy with trade-ins. I could keep track, but I don't think I want to.

I grew up in the mid to late forties with practical parents - a mother, God bless her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it.  A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. They weren't poor, my parents, they were just satisfied. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers and tee shirt and Mom in a
housedress - lawn mower in his hand, dishtowel in hers. They always found time for fixing things - a curtain  rod, the kitchen radio, screen door,  the oven door, th
e hem in a dress.

Things you keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, re-heating, re-newing, I wanted just once to be wasteful.
Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant there'd always be more. But then my father died, and on that clear autumn night, in the chill of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any 'more.'  Sometimes what you care about most gets all used up and goes away . . . never to return.

 So, while you have it, it's best to love it and care for it and fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. That's true for marriage and old cars and children with bad report cards and dogs with bad hips and aging parents. You keep them because they're worth it - because you're worth it.

Some things you keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate you
grew up with.  There are just some things that make life important...certain people
you know are special...and you KEEP them close! "

author unknown

Submitted by Bruce Downey as he recalls this incident while talking with Lloyd Serfling at the Saturday evening event at Our 50th Reunion--- Editor's Note:  The following is a true story, but to protect the innocent, the real name of our classmate, identified herein simply as "Sallie Mae," has been withheld. "At the informal gathering of classmates on Friday evening, I (i.e., Bruce Downey) started talking with "Sallie Mae".  Sallie still lives in a nearby Chicago suburb.  Looking back to that evening, there was nothing particularly notable about our conversation or about Sallie's demeanor.  Then, the next evening at the main event on Saturday night I had just been to the men's room and was coming out when I met Lloyd Serfling going in.  So we stopped and talked a bit...mostly about Ernie Olds, when someone rushed up and said, " Sallie's out in the parking lot looking for her car ! "  Lloyd cut short our conversation to begin a hurried search for Sallie when I asked Lloyd the obvious question, " Well, what's so unusual about that ? "  And as he was scurrying off toward the parking lot, Lloyd turned around and said, "Sallie doesn't drive."
Submitted by the one designated as "least changed in 50 years"--- "I was on the way home that Sunday morning, the final day of the reunion.  I was running low on gas, so I pulled off the Interstate somewhere in Indiana.  You know how the gas pumps are set up---there's an island, with pumps facing both directions.  So you're only a couple of feet away from another car facing the opposite direction.  So there we were, both standing there---me on one side and this lady on the other...looking at one another every once in awhile while our gas pumps were filling our tanks.   Finally, I broke the silence and asked her which way she was headed.  She told me briefly where she had been and where she was going.  Then after a slight pause, she looked up again and said, "How about you ?"  "Well," I said, " I've just been to my 50th High School Reunion and I'm heading back home to Virginia."  To which she laughingly responded, " Well, you sure don't look old enough  to be coming from a 50th of anything ! "  To which I replied, " You know, that's interesting that you should say that because I just won an award at our reunion for being the classmate who had changed the least over the intervening 50 years !   We both laughed, finished pumping our gas, and went our separate ways. " 

Submitted by Bruce Downey---

Skye Downey

I was out in the hallway at one point at our Saturday night function when Irene Morgan Bergmann approached me.  She wanted to talk to me about Skye---my granddaughter, whose photo is at the left and again below, right.  Irene simply wanted to tell me that "she just couldn't get over what a cutie Skye is," adding that " someday we would all be hearing about Skye again."  I thanked Irene for her kind words, volunteering that Skye is quite athletic, taking swimming, tennis, and figure skating lessons at the tender age of only six.  I went on to suggest that if we ever do  hear from Skye again, that her best chance would be tennis.  While Skye's mother is quite a good tennis player in her own right, it is Skye's maternal grandmother who in her day was the Pennsylvania state champion amateur tennis player.  So maybe, just maybe, Skye will make a name for herself someday in the tennis world. We'll see.
Skye Downey

And then this post-reunion item from Jerry Wheeler....it's a poem about High School Reunions...how people change over the years and how their reunions change too...

High School Reunions...
"Every ten years, as summertime nears,
An announcement arrives in the mail,
'A reunion is planned; it'll be really grand;
Make plans to attend without fail.'

I'll never forget the first time we met;
We tried so hard to impress.
We drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars,
And wore our most elegant dress.

It was quite an affair; the whole class was there.
It was held at a fancy hotel.
We wined and we dined and we acted refined,
And everyone thought it was swell.

The men all conversed about who had been first
To achieve great fortune and fame.
Meanwhile, their spouses described their fine houses
And how beautiful their children became.

The homecoming queen, who once had been lean,
Now weighed in at one-ninety-six.
The jocks who were there had all lost their hair,
And the cheerleaders could no more do kicks.

No one had heard about the class nerd
Who'd guided a spacecraft to the moon;
Or poor little Jane, who'd always been plain;
She married a shipping tycoon.

The boy we'd decreed 'most apt to succeed'
Was serving ten years in the pen,
While the one voted 'least' now was a priest;
Shows you can be wrong now and then.

They awarded a prize to one of the guys
Who seemed to have aged the least.
Another was given to the grad who had driven
The farthest to attend the feast.

They took a class picture, a curious mixture
Of beehives, crew cuts and wide ties.
Tall, short or skinny, the style was the mini;
You never saw so many thighs.

At our next get-together, no one cared whether
They impressed their classmates or not.
The mood was informal, a whole lot more normal;
By this time we'd all gone to pot.

It was held out-of-doors, at the lake shores;
We ate hamburgers, coleslaw and beans.
Then most of us lay around in the shade,
In our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.

By the fortieth year, it was abundantly clear,
We were definitely over the hill.
Those who weren't dead had to crawl out of bed,
And be home in time for their pill.

And now I can't wait; they've just set the date;
Our fiftieth is coming, I'm told.
It should be a ball, they've rented a hall
At the Shady Rest Home for the old.

Repairs have been made on my hearing aid;
My pacemaker's been turned up on high.
My wheelchair is oiled, my teeth have been boiled;
And I've bought a new wig and glass eye.

I'm feeling quite hearty, I'm ready to party;
I'll dance 'til the dawn's early light.
It'll be lots of fun; I just hope there's one
Other person who gets there that night."

author unknown

...and the 'Age of Innocence' still prevails here!



"Of Greenhouses, Goldfish, and Other Important Things"

--- a true story submitted by Bruce Downey..

"I got to wondering one day awhile back whether Nancy Brown was in our 8th grade homeroom picture (Room 207) at Hawthorne Jr. Hi. I couldn't really remember. Flipping my old print of that picture over, I found that just about everyone signed my print of that old picture and many of the signatures were as interesting as their matching faces on the flip side. There was Wayne Mahood's signature, followed by a second signature also in Wayne's hand...it reads "Mudhood." Then there was David Cunningham's signature followed by the words "garbage collector"---also in his hand. Then Glen Schricker signed his name followed by "(Pres. 207)"---Hey, I voted for you Glen ! And Dick Turchi signed as "VP"---And I voted for Dick, too. And Kathy Flechsig simply signed as "Kathy F." Well, as it turns out, Nancy Brown was in our homeroom 207 picture. And there were a total of thirteen girls and seventeen boys in that 8th grade class picture. I have most of the girls' signatures, and all of the boys'. So I started figuring out which of the girls' signatures I was missing. I don't have Marilyn Hersey's signature, nor do I have Nancy Brown's signature.

And who amongst us remembers Nancy Brown ? Well, I, for one, do---principally because of an event that almost took place a very long time ago . I think we were in 7th grade at the time and we were taking a class at Hawthorne Jr. Hi. on sex education. We had sex education maybe only once a week...boys separate from girls, of course. Well, that course generated such a keen interest that a few of us boys thought we needed to do some further research at the Elmhurst Public Library. So one day after school we went to the Library. There must have been maybe three or four of us that went...I can't remember exactly who now, but we all went straight-away to the room where the biggest dictionary in all of Elmhurst was housed. And what were we boys up to ? Well, we were looking up the definitions, and hopefully any accompanying pictures, to expand upon our limited knowledge of the female anatomy...when in walked Nancy Brown. Well, Nancy took control of that dictionary with us guys looking on as she searched for what interested her---the male anatomy. Then Nancy, being the extrovert that she always was, made the astounding pledge that the next day after school, she would show us guys her private parts if we would show her ours. I kid you not...she offered us that proposition. We needed privacy, of course, and it was Nancy who suggested the perfect place. It would be by the goldfish pond just inside Elmhurst's only Greenhouse on the grounds of Wilder Park, just a few steps from the Library. At that point Miss Strand, the librarian, came into the room and suggested that we all leave as we were all getting a bit too boisterous by her standards. And so we left as Miss Strand tidied up the room, returning Elmhurst's biggest dictionary to its rightful place at the very head of the long table near the bay window. Well the next afternoon after school and at the appointed hour, I, and maybe only one other guy, showed up at the Greenhouse, eagerly awaiting Nancy's arrival. We wondered whether Nancy would really come or not. I mean we were there, so why wouldn't Nancy come too ? But Nancy never did show up. She chickened out. And so my very first experience with real-time discovery and exploration was put on hold for yet another time...and another place. Incidentally, that same Greenhouse within the grounds of Wilder Park was still there when my wife and I were in Elmhurst with two of our grand-boys in 1999--see picture above. And when I saw that Greenhouse again I couldn't help but think of Nancy Brown...and her offer...and the events that almost took place there some 50-years before. I told the grand-boys that there were goldfish inside and, of course, they wanted to go see. The door was unlocked, just as it always was, and we found the goldfish pond just where I said it would be. Everything was the same...nothing had changed...time had stood still. I looked around and thought I saw Nancy Brown sitting there on a nearby bench...but no, it was just my imagination. And then someone said "Let's go" and so we did, but I couldn't help but smile as I closed the Greenhouse door behind us.


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