Thursday, June 2, 2011

Alumni Whirlwind

Alumni Weekend in St. Marys, WV is one of my favorite times to make a return visit to the ol' hometown. Although the weekend was touched with the sadness surrounding Warren's passing, class reunions of St. Marys High School still gathered, classmates reunited and reminiscing abounded.

Reunions generally kick off with events on Friday nights. As I was fortunate enough to stay once again with my dear friends Kaki and JB at their beautiful lakeside home, I watched much of the weekend unfold from the Greenhouse. The Greenhouse hosted the class of 1976 on Friday and it was a gas to see the folks attending. The GH Gang sampled much of the gourmet food line they carry but also demonstrated their culinary prowess with some outstanding hors d'ouerves including savory Filet Bites, Fruit Skewers with a Lemon Curd Dip and my personal favorite, Grilled Salmon Shooters with dill sauce served in sleek shot glasses. There was also a wide variety of the many salsas the GH carries on display.

Kristy and I were recruited to bartend for these folks and it was a hoot. A pop-up storm with drenching rain drove everyone inside for a bit. JB, unfortunately, continued grilling outside in the pouring rain. Among the Class of '76, Willie as always, was a blast to be around and I got to try Bob Gessner's Almost Famous Sangria. His sangria is top-notch and the use of Granny Smith apples was an excellent idea. These classmates seemed to have a most marvelous time throughout.

Saturday morning, Kristy and I joined what seemed like the majority of the townsfolk to watch the Alumni Parade. After a bake sale breakfast (loved the peanut butter cookies), we watched the honored classes ride on floats; waving and throwing out candy to the kids. Various Alumnus of The Year honorees (such as Barb and Dotte-The Cheerleaders to blog readers) ride by in cars, including this year's honored Alumnus Susan Allman Bailey. It was incredibly touching to see local legend Helen Hammett watching the parade and waving at everyone who passed by. I was most excited to run into many of my favorite familiar faces including Sarah Jane and Sara Louise (Attack of The Sarahs!) and two friends whom I hadn't seen in many a moon: Randa and Deanna. I used to love being in the general orbit of Randa and Deanna in high school as they never failed to elicit a guffaw from me and blessedly, after all of these years, this time was no different. A conversation amongst the gathered chicks centered on hair color...

Deanna: What hair color product do you use, Randa?
Randa: I don't have gray hair. Why do you assume I have gray hair?
Deanna: Because I can see gray in your moustache.

This was a classic exchange between two old friends that literally made my day. Following the parade, Kristy and I piled into Connie's car to head down to the marina and see where the Alumni festivities led. We spoke with various folks and caught up with several old friends.

Following the parade, a visit with my Mom in Marietta and Warren's visitation, we returned to a very spent but still game Greenhouse, where they were preparing for that night's hoedown: the Sixties reunion. JB's sister has been hosting a combination class reunion for all of the classes who graduated in the 60's at Abicht's Landing for the past couple of years. We mingled with several folks celebrating amongst the beautiful lakeside setting in front of the towering pine trees. I caught up with my sister Shirley and her friends Marilyn and Niles; who were in from Washington DC as well as our dear friends Liz and Tod who always bring some of their patented New Orleans flair with every visit. It was a terrific night featuring some gorgeous weather.

This Alumni weekend seemed to be a great time had by all despite the sometimes sad circumstances. It seemed strangely fitting that Warren's funeral take place over this weekend as so many folks were in town and were able to pay their respects. We gather together every year to celebrate the past and sometimes that sadly includes mourning a fallen classmate and friend. This weekend always includes Memorial Day and that often means many of us are visiting graves and missing lost friends and family members.

Alumni is primarily a celebration, though, and its truly a grand tradition. Its a time to reflect on our days as students and citizens of our beloved hometown. Outside of Warren's funeral, the biggest chill I got this weekend occurred at the parade, when the band played the Fight Song and the Alma Mater:

Far Above Ohio's waters, stands St. Marys
High, And the cheers with which we praise her echo from the sky. Alma Mater, Alma Mater, Thou which art the best, We will love thee through the ages, Dear SMHS...


Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved this post..... and love all of the alumni festivities as well. Sure do hate that our paths did not cross this visit. Ah.... but there is always next year. (-:

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