Miscellaneous Class Reunion Stories 2

’41 Grad Honors WWII Classmates

Russ Kohloff, one of the first Wauwatosa High School graduates to enlist in World War II, returned to his old high school to place a flag next to the plaque that honors 57 classmates from the 1940s who died in service. Russ, 80, was a delightful guest, touring the old hallways of the school he’d not been back to since his graduation in June 1941. He joined the Marines soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and fought throughout the Pacific. His exploits are detailed in “The Hero Next Door.”

Russ founded a Beloit chapter of the Marine Corps League when he returned from military service in 1946. His organization has agreed to post the colors at the world War II plaque for WWII classmates who died in the war that is located in the high school, each Memorial Day.

The plaque was placed in the school at the request of the School Board on the last day of the war in 1945. For years it stood in the school’s main lobby, but at some point was put in storage, then lost. Coach Martin Jackson who coached several of the men whose names appeared on the small, engraved panels, found the old memorial in a janitor’s closet where it had been used to dry rags. At his own expense, Coach Jackson restored the scroll that contained the 57 names and had it rehung on the hallway wall when the school’s new expansion was completed in the 1970s.

Give it Time, and They Will Come

Class reunion interest is low with students just out of high school. That changes with time according to Michael Schutzler, classmates.com president and chief executive.

Schutzler said that after 10 years or so, individuals gain interest in measuring their lives with fellow alums. When people get to their late 30s and 40s, there’s a need to connect with former classmates. Apparently it takes 10 or 15 years to mature.

Nick Lansing found those sentiments to be true. After attending his 15 year reunion, he commented that “there were people I had not seen at the five and 10 year.” He wonders if there’s “a core that won’t show up to any.”
Lansing believes multi-class reunions are efficient. The reasoning is that more people will show up, making it more fun and reasonably priced. Plus, added income could provide a bigger menu or multiple bands.

From the Marshfield (WI) News Herald. Shared by Ellen Vanderboom.

…And the Advice it Produces

Rick Ansorge in the Colorado Springs (CO) Gazette, used Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion in an article of observations about how “at real reunions” we may feel “the urge to make a good impression – and produce a padded resume.”

He quotes Judith Martin in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. “Keep in mind the purpose of the high school reunion, which is to give those who would least have suspected it the impression that you turned out to be a success in life after all.”

“At class reunions,” Ansorge writes, “we want to show former friends and foes (especially foes) we’ve conquered our demons and emerged as a well-adjusted (and preferably well-heeled) adult.

Success, the author fears, is too often “defined as svelte as Julia Roberts and as rich as Bill Gates.” Ways to make a good impression in spite of anxiety and angst are “to be yourself, be a good listener, and be honest about your life … up to a point.” You don’t need to reveal that you’re recovering alcoholic or mention your several failed marriages or years in jail.

Privy Pride

This must be some kind of record. As part of a weeklong All-School Reunion and Wisconsin’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, dozens of outhouses, pulled by vintage cars, floated through the streets of Eagle River, Wisconsin. That’s right. The privy parade had more than 500 participants, representing 60 different graduating classes. “I’ll bet there’s never been a parade like this,” said Sharon Brenda, who works for the chamber of commerce. Some of the outhouses made preview runs during a 4th of July parade. One, decorated in red, white and blue, boasted a sign proclaiming: “Come Downtown to Do Your Business!”

from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

One-room Reunion

Class has been over for 42 years at the one-room Woodland Road School near Hustisford, Wisconsin. The school opened in 1867. The floors are now buckled and walls scarred and cracked. But that didn’t stop 63 classmates, five former teachers and their families from gathering at the old schoolhouse for the reunion. “For years, everyone talked about having a school reunion,” recalled Beverly Becker Mann, one of ten children, six of whom attended the Woodland Road School. Will Henkel, 63, now a retired avionics engineer, came from Seattle, Washington. Others came from North Dakota, Ohio and Illinois.

Esther Mass, 91, was the oldest student to attend the reunion. She graduated in 1911. “Everyone I went to school with is gone now,” she said. Asked about her school days, Mass said she didn’t really like them too much. “Spelling and geography were hard for me,” she admitted. “To tell the truth, I wasn’t crazy about it.”

Stuck in the Sand!

Last summer I became aware of just what it means to turn fifty. Each year former college roommates and I get together for a reunion weekend of reminiscing and catching up.

As is our custom we alternate the site annually. I volunteered my recently purchased beach house for the reunion. On the afternoon of the second day we headed to the beach to enjoy a few hours in the sun. I had purchased each friend a low slung beach chair with her name imprinted on the back. We had a great time soaking up the sun and rehashing old memories. The moment of truth came, however, when it was time to go home. Three hours of sitting left us unable to extricate ourselves from the beach chairs. After several minutes of crawling about on the sand, accompanied by a good laugh, we agreed that next time we go to the beach we would bring “old fashioned” chairs like we used when we first got together.

Reported by Joann Higgins, Newton NJ

Even Presidents…

AP – George H. W. Bush relived boyhood memories with Phillips Academy (class of ’42) pals at their 55th reunion. Bush was described as an “indifferent scholar” but distinguished athlete while in school.

Class of ’27

Most graduating classes are fortunate to reach a 50th reunion before age and infirmity spoil the party. The Athens (GA) High School Class of ’27 reversed the usual order of reunions – they didn’t have their first until the 50th year but have been meeting annually since. Now in their late 80s, moving with the help of canes, most don’t hear as well as they once did.

The class was 123 strong at graduation and 20 attended the 70th reunion. Just amazed that they were attending a 70th reunion, one classmate announced triumphantly, “We’re still kicking, just not as high.” They reminisced how different life was. Theirs was a cotton town until the boll weevil struck during their junior year resulting in three failed banks and a county-wide depression. No one had money, there was only one car in their class, radio was so new, few families had them. When asked to tell about their lives 70 years later they talked about family, not troubling experiences along the way such as World War II in which many male and female classmates served.

submitted by Ken August Brunner, Atlanta GA, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution