Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Having a Blast from the Past, PHS Class 62's 50th!

Monday, September 10, 2012

OLA: Having a Blast from the Past, PHS Class 62's 50th!

all 102 of us, the 54 classmates who made it and the spouses and significant others present at Gala Night!
brunch at Corner Bistro
We have just completed the last activity, Sunday Brunch at Corner Bistro, of the 50th Reunion of the Pittsburg High School Class of 1962. And everything was indeed a blast from the past, from the organizing meetings to the Saturday Night Gala. Knowing that we have made it to the auspicious age of 65+, everyone was beaming with joy. About 54 old (emphasis on the old) classmates congregated in Pittsburg, Kansas September 6-9, 2012 to celebrate friendship, memories, and life.

Organizing Meetings

Bill and I were so lucky to have been able to attend one organizing committee meeting and to help in the last stage of preparations. He even volunteered me to craft the message to be wrapped with the magnifiers, a surprise gift in each souvenir bag which also included ‘bucket list’ note pads and a gold plated and engraved letter opener, pens, and other goodies . Not to be outdone, I volunteered Bill to make the ‘Thinking of You’ cards for those who wanted to come but couldn’t. In the end, however, I ended up designing the card, too. Fun!

busy, busy, busy
The real planners had been meeting for months to make this 50th reunion special. Carolyn Lamborn, Sandy Myers, and Joyce Cunningham were busy reporting on the progress of the preparations. Carol Gorenc was arriving the following day to make a final check of all payments received.  Sandy’s report on her campaign for updated info for a new Directory brought a mix of emotions, happy conversations with those who are excited to see or connect with everyone, and the sad (and some bizarre) talks with those who cannot or will not. The meeting was well run and Kenny Waltrip made notes as program MC while Leslie Luttrell, Gary Cunningham, Dan Edwards, Larry Fite, George McAdams, Charlie Simpson and Ron and Sharon Strahan all made their contributions.

finnally, the hellos at Chicken Annie!
Thursday Cocktail Reception at Chicken Annie

Chicken Annie is the nationally famous chicken place that was featured on Food Network. It was born out of a miner’s wife’s desire to augment their family income. As a matter of fact, right beside it is Chicken Mary, founded by a sister, another miner’s wife. Equally famous, it was also featured in the  documentary.  Of course this became the first meeting place, as it was a common catchment area for the boys and girls of PHS around the 1960s. The mood was electric but there was silence and oohs and aahs as each one introduced himself or herself and his or her present spouse. It was a roaring start.

part of the Strahan Garden at the back of their 6-acre property
the bbq chatter at the Strahans
Friday BBQ at the Strahan Garden

Then Ron and Sharon Strahan opened their lovely home to the brood for Friday lunch while the golfers did a round of 18 holes at the Countryside Golf Club. The pulled pork barbecue sandwiches (HUGE), fried chicken, baked beans, and another side of pasta, gave everyone a hefty lunch.  But the real show that afternoon was Sharon’s garden with watermelons, apples, pears, and grapes growing amid the flowers and the bottle tree! Not to be outdone, Ron’s two planes occupied his two big barns! Such hospitality was generously returned with a lot of baked homemade goodies for a dessert table that filled us for hours!

gift bag with some of the goodies!
Friday Night Dinner at Parrott Bay

The formal registration began right before the Friday night dinner at Parrott Bey, a lovely event place in downtown Pittsburg. Purple and white bags of goodies, magnifier, engraved pens, and an engraved letter opener with special sleeve made by Joyce, were given each classmate attendee. The magnifier tag reads: 'Here’s the 50th reunion gift you have dreamed of getting..a magnifier, Sherlock Holme’s secret weapon! You don’t have to wonder why we are giving you one! Age brings some wisdom, but it takes away vision.’

'Thinking of You' card
There were prayers offered to those who have passed on, around 35 of them, according to Don Bunnell’s count. Huge cards were also at the bar for signing by each classmate present to be sent to other classmates who were not able to make it. The card reads:
     ‘Since you are not able to join us at our reunion;
       Let us bring our fun 50th reunion to you!’

The buffet dinner of three pastas, Italian sausages, and salads was spread out so two queues easily made their way back to their tables which were buzzing with reminiscing talks. And the coup de gras was the dessert: cookies to die for, each with any one of the following ‘sweet’ words: PHS, 50, 1962-2012! 

the special 50th reunion cookies!
Saturday Lunch at Chatters

lunch at Chatters!
The lunches were always optional but around 70 joined the chatter and ordered wonderful lunches at a  place near the PSU campus called…Chatters! I had lettuce wraps and peeked at the US Open semifinal match of Murray and Berdych from one of a dozen or more flat panels hung around the walls. You could hardly hear anyone except for the one right beside you! The place was bustling with youthful energy and joie de vivre! What a joy reunions are!

champagne toast at Gala Night!
Saturday Night Gala at Parrott Bey

But the Saturday night event is the one usually eagerly awaited by everyone. Bill chose a special dress for me and indeed the ladies all looked even lovelier that night. Before dinner the classmates posed for a class picture with Michele, a professional photographer and daughter-in-law of Leslie and Gerard Luttrell.  Finally, 10 minutes after the scheduled time, 6 shots were taken to remember this special occasion, when 54 classmates gathered together on their 50th and golden anniversary of high school graduation! And for the first time, a nearly impossible mission, the spouses and significant others were included in a literally HUGE photo…all 102 of us!

the purple dragon cake!
The buffet dinner was sumptuous with beef brisket barbecue, glazed ham with pineapple, and grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes and potatoes au gratin and salads as sides. Kenny Waltrip wowed everyone with humor of the best kind…a bit of self-deprecation from high school days. Jack Mackie taught a bit of geography when he asked everyone to stand and successively asked classmates to sit down, starting with those from Pittsburg and expanding the circle until only Darwin Zellmer remained standing. He and his wife Nancy came all the way from Anchorage, Alaska! Jack also congratulated the organizing committee for such an excellent reunion, a much deserved thanks! Then Kenny led everyone to a champagne toast. The surprise of the night was a young magician, Jake Temate, who brought the house down with his original and inexplicable antics!

Vicky C, Olson helping the magician to levitate the table!
Becky Stratton-Deal's nails were painted purple and white with the letters PHS inscribed!
Then many said goodbye because they would be leaving early the next morning.  And the goodbyes of that night were repeated at the brunch the next morning at Corner Bistro were all the same: appreciation for the time given us and the opportunity to rekindle old friendships and the wish that we would all create new memories again in 2017 at the 55th reunion!   Life is indeed a blast...even more so from the past!