Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Moline High Class of 1966. The Class the Stars Fell On. 50th Reunion

Patty and I were considered the most talkative at Garfield Grade School.
Kris Streed and my wife were in the same dorm at Augustana College.

This MHS66 reunion was especially fun but also poignant. Everyone came to the event, if at all possible. The 55th reunion, far in the future now, does not have the same drawing power, and some of us will no longer be available.

Toby McGriff
Our first priority was to see Toby McGriff, a friend from the 7th grade at John Deere - and also in the band. He has undergone a lot of surgery, thanks to MRSA and other problems. We were happy to learn dogs were welcome at Rosewood, so Sassy went along.

Toby is at Rosewood Care Center.

At one point I took an outside break for Sassy, so we went all the way through the facility and back again. Sassy, as always, looked for new friends, and they looked for her. We came to a stop at the big room, and soon the corridor was so choked with wheelchairs that no one could pass through. Sassy and I sang the Cattle Dog Blues together, an unlikely duet. The residents and staff loved it.

Why wasn't I in the MHS Madrigals, long ago?

Sassy has such kindly expressions that everyone is attracted to her, and her missing leg makes them especially interested in her history and abilities.

Sassy seemed to think I was talking too much to Toby, so she asked for extra petting. That reminded me of taking Erin Joy to see an ALS patient in the hospital, about 30 years ago. I placed her on the bed but talked to him too much. She began to pout. I said to him, "Erin is not getting enough attention."

He said, "She needs to learn she is not the center of the world."

I said, "YOU tell her." Erin grinned, because she was the center of the medical staff, attended meetings, passed out meds with them, and wore a Nurse Supervisor hat.

We enjoyed seeing Toby and would not have missed the chance. As he said, "The time went too fast." We were in band together most of the way through high school (except my years at Coolidge) and we saw him later at SSU - Sixteenth Street University, the nickname for Blackhawk Community College. He drove me home from high school, even the day I forgot I had my father's car in the lot. I realized a bit late and he grimly turned around in rush hour traffic and dropped me off at the almost empty high school parking lot. It's funnier now, but I did not mention that particular memory. My wife thought it was funny.

Guy Johnson
Another great visit was with Guy Johnson, MHS 68. We lived a block apart and attended Garfield Grade School. We were fanatical readers then - comics and everything else - and have not stopped. Guy just came back from a long visit in Germany. We have the same interest in WWII history.

Guy brought his dog Sneakers (part Border Collie) and Sassy came with us - to the park behind the Comfort Inn Motel.

 Guy Johnson met us at Lago's last time.

Sneakers and I got along so well that Sneakers warned Sassy away from me, so Sassy sat feet away from us for a time, a bit sad. This was finally resolved in Guy making a big deal over Sassy - who loved it - while I talked to Sneakers and petted her.

Chris was born in Germany so we all had plenty to talk about. Guy traveled all over, not only seeing the classic WWII sites but the graves of many notables.

Our class has always been welcoming, including those who transferred in late. One mentioned how much she appreciated Debbie Mitchell introducing her around and making sure she had plenty of friends from the start. That was mentioned about 45 years afterwards, so obviously it meant a lot to her. My wife has always felt she was part of the class, so she laughed when I suggested Photoshopping someone out of a shot because he was not MHS66. She knew I was kidding.

Garfield Grade School was so close that I walked one block, met Guy, and went on to school for two blocks, sometimes coming into his house, sometimes arriving way too soon. My mother, as I recall, left early with my brother, and I came along later, but that was still very early for most.

I got the early-bird gene from both parents. One classmate said something I grew up with - "The perfect family, the best teacher (your Mom) and the best donuts (your Dad)." That also meant everyone knew me and I got away with nothing.

The NSA has not caught up with Moline parenting as we knew it. But that was a great characteristic of the town.

 My family posed at our Dairy Queen. I ate.

Thursday Whiteys Country Style Smackdown
We had an informal gathering at the corner of Whiteys Ice Cream and Country Style. Kym Dennhardt always argued that Country Style (soft-serve) was the best in the world, better than Whiteys. Everyone chose a favorite. Whiteys clearly won, and I had a chance to try CS again. My wife had pumpkin ice cream from Whiteys and I grieved that I used up my carbo allotment with CS. We had a great turnout because it was posted for everyone to see, not a private party.

Sassy came along and asked for her tithe of my cone. That goes way back, when we got water in Phoenix and bought a cone similar to Whiteys. Sassy sat in the back seat and tapped my shoulder as I ate the cone in the car. No sound, but tap, tap, tap, every few minutes.

Friday and Saturday Gatherings
The Friday gathering was in a big room with great food. People kept arriving and soon we were shouting at each other,  squeezed together like kittens in shoebox.

The combination of two formal events was good, because we saw many (or missed them) one night and made up for that the other night. I prodded Billie Seesland about not seeing me Friday, and she responded on Facebook. At the country club, she drove into the next spot as I was parking.

I have to mention Garfield Grade School friends there one or both nights:

  • Billie Seesland
  • Kathy Wilcox
  • Bruce Johnson
  • Patty Puck and her husband Jeff Hall. They were not dating yet at Garfield, they hastened to tell me once. But who was?
  • Mike Matalik
  • Barb Williams
  • John Schneck
  • Jim Kron
  • Mike Fleck

Lawrence Eyre (Garfield) had to coach tennis on the reunion dates.
Lane Gans came to the 50th.
The homecoming queen likes my blog posts.
Our Table, Saturday
My wife and I spotted Rex Bullock on our way to pick a table, so we went together. Soon Mary Parsons and her husband sat down with us, including Sheryl Ramsdale. Finally, Barb Williams and her Methodist minister husband sat down to complete the table.

Everyone was either clergy family or active laity, so we had a great time. Barb Williams told me how special my mother was as her teacher, and I remembered that my mother thought a lot of Barb too.

That was the key to the Garfield teaching staff. Except for one psycho teacher who hit kids without provocation (and soon retired), the teachers really loved the students and considered them family.

 The Panama Canal project in my mother's classroom made George Small
want to be an engineer. Later, he visited the Panama Canal and said,
"It was just like the working model we built in your Mom's room!"