And the whole town came
When I was living in Colorado, I met a friend I’d grown up with in Guttenberg, New Jersey. We wondered about so and so and I said it would be great to see everyone including teachers, police officers (our P.A.L. was fabulous) and basically anyone who lived in our four- by eight-block town. Eighteen months of letter-writing (before email) and too many phone calls resulted in a three-day reunion. Friday night was a dinner, dance and reminiscing … getting to know each other again. Saturday was a “jocks’ delight” in our old schoolyard for most of the daylight hours. And the ladies cheered us on. At night a friend whose father had taken many movies of town events showed them on a wall in the schoolyard just as they did back when. Sunday was a farewell brunch. We took movies and photos and made them available, including several distinct Christmas cards picturing opposing teams.
The reunion brought many old friends together after a 25-year hiatus and many continue to this day. Over 300 people from around the country attended and many who still lived in town walked in to various events. Many who didn't attend due mainly to not learning about it, wished for another reunion. Because I’d organized and planned the first reunion, I volunteered again to be part of our 2005 reunion.
For information, contact Bob Faro, Guttenberg Town Reunion 2005, 2483 Blue Jay Drive, Nazareth PA 18064; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Osturna in America
The population of Barton, Ohio, welcomes a village reunion of people whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents emigrated to the US from Osturna in present-day Slovakia. About 80% of the folks in Barton (about an hour from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) have Osturna roots -- a combination of Slovak and Carpatho-Rusyn, a fairly small ethnic group from Eastern Europe. This reunion features discussions about a DNA genealogy project, a master village database being developed and records already transcribed. There also are horse-and-wagon tours of Barton. The total community of “Osturna in America” is roughly 1,000. They’ve had a newsletter for over eight years and maintain an extensive website.
They expect many children of immigrants at reunions — in fact, the reunion is close to where most of them still live to encourage attendance. These people are now the “elder circle.” They also invite Slovaks direct from Osturna, including the priest and mayor. Attendees are from all over the US and Canada. For information contact Megan Smolenyak at email@example.com.
Kansas town reunion
Mayfield, Kansas, planned the town's first parade to open their reunion. It was the first time decorated kids' bikes and homemade floats cruised Osborne, the local equivalent of Main Street. It also featured locally built fire engines, horses and antique cars. It was part of Mayfield's two-day reunion celebration.
People from more than 15 states came for the reunion. The celebration included a mix of old traditions (Maypole winding and group dinners) and new events, such as the parade and a self-guided walking tour of the town.
There were also an all-ages softball tournament, time for reminiscing in the town's gym, a church service, and an “old-fashioned literary” featuring skits and music.
Mayfield hamburgers were the popular treat of the day.
From a story by Dana Strongin in The Wichita Eagle and Kansas.com.
Sons of Milltown
Sons of Milltown, New Jersey, reunions were started in 1999. After 2000, they decided to have a reunion every two years and began a program to honor Milltown residents at the events. This year, the Sons honored more than 30 Milltown Rescue Squad members and 30 Milltown firefighters for their service.
In an unusual move, the Sons chose to induct a woman, Ruth Ross (81) into the Milltown Sports Hall of Fame. Ross was the fourth-grade teacher for nearly everyone in attendance and a huge sports fan. She used to keep the World Series on at school.
Attendees had many stories to tell from the 1940s on up, but they all mentioned the sense of community they felt growing up in Milltown. Many described it as a unique and warm place; people were always concerned about their neighbors.
The community did much for kids back then: movies at the school on Saturday nights, Saturday morning basketball leagues, many baseball leagues. Kids ice skated on top of the mud hole and Farrington Lake in the winter.
From a story by Tara Petersen in the East Brunswick Sentinel, East Brunswick, New Jersey.
Reunions bring large numbers back home
Fifty years of class reunions —1944 to 1994 — generated an exciting weekend in Williston, North Dakota.
In honor of those who took the time to return home, a lot of work was done to ensure they’d enjoy. Hey, you never know, they might like it so much they’d want to stay.
Members of the Hometown Williston committee staged a program for a good old-fashioned Fourth of July. Along with all of the reunions and family gatherings, activities were planned for Harmon Park, the Avenue of Flags and the new Veterans Memorial Plaza at Riverview Cemetery to be joined by the Tri-County Korea-Vietnam Memorial in the near future.
These are some of the activities provided for reunion returnees.
The Williston Area Chamber of Commerce arranged street sales and other activities leading up to the Blast XV street dance in the evening.
Saturday began with the annual Hank's Huff & Puff 5K or 10K run.
A parade traveled through downtown Williston.
A “free feed” was provided by area businesses. Pie and ice cream were provided by Williston State College.
Sponsors throughout the community purchased benches and had them decorated. The Bethel Bench Auction benefited Bethel Lutheran Home and one special bench was designated to assist the National Guard Family Support Group.
Along with all of the class reunions, the Lady Tetons from Williston State College held a special event to celebrate the first 20 years of women's college basketball; 80 former players toured a new facility.
From a story by Thomas A. Kvamme, The Scope in the Williston Daily Herald, Williston, North Dakota.
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Reunion for a community no more
In the 1930s, Central Avenue was where Tampa, Florida’s, African-American community went to buy clothes, catch a movie or dance the night away. Decades later, the interstate sliced through the community, devastating it.
Those who remember Central Avenue in its heyday gathered for a reunion near where the Apollo Dance Hall, the Deluxe Cozy Corner restaurant and Pyramid Hotel once stood. It was the place where a musician found his inspiration to write The Twist, the song that made Chubby Checker a name known around the world.
“It was a time when black people really had their own business community,” said Bernadine White-King, daughter of African-American pioneer Moses White, who once owned four businesses on Central Avenue.
The local theater charged 5¢ for a movie and the Apollo Dance Hall hosted free after-school and evening dances. It was charming, safe and had such a sense of community, there was no reason to shop anyplace else.
From a story by Dong-Phuong Nguyen in the St. Petersburg Times, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Book sparks village reunion
Colleen Redman began writing The Jim and Dan Stories as a way to manage her grief after two of her five brothers died a month apart in the summer of 2001. She recorded her recollections of Jim and Dan, the rest of her Irish Catholic family of 11, and the years they spent in the tightly knit Hull Village, Massachusetts, in the 1950s and 60s. When her book was published, others saw some of their own childhoods in Redman's descriptions of old coastal forts and bunkers, swimming off the jetty, sledding in the cemetery, riding makeshift skateboards down Telegraph Hill. It's a memoir of Hull Village, a simple life, a simple place.
Such tucked-away memories triggered plans for a village reunion. Redman, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, says she’s received lots of emails that start, “You probably don't remember me, but …” Many of these were from friends Jim or Dan grew up with.
The reunion was planned for Memorial Day (so it would be easy to remember), with a small parade ending at the playground where there was a reunion picnic.
From a story by Christine Wallgren, Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts.