Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Old Gang Of Mine!

Astute observers of the last post might have noticed that we are currently in the Midwest.  It is our annual trip to try to convince Melinda that the "dry heat" of Tucson is a good thing.  She remains unconvinced, so we continue returning to the glorious humidity (and greens) of Illinois and Iowa.

One of the main reasons for our visit this time is that we came up for my 40th reunion of Calamus High School graduation!  For those of you not in the know, the town of Calamus, population about 400, is a railroad town named for a weed that grows in the area.  Located in Clinton County (far eastern Iowa), the area is mostly rural with large family farms - homes to most of my classmates.  Being a small town, my graduating class only had 23 students (about 100 in the entire high school).  Just a few years later the school consolidated with Wheatland, the next town to the west, so the days of small schools like in those days are mostly over.  At left are the old senior class photos, and at right was our local classmate host Dave, and Roger, now a longtime Denver resident.

This year's reunion dates were picked to coincide with "Calamus Fun Days", a celebration of life in the small town.  There was to be a parade on Saturday morning, and our task for Friday evening was to prepare a float for the classmates to ride in the parade.  I've never been to, nor heard of Calamus Fun Days - I don't think it was held 40 years ago when I lived there, but we dutifully showed up to share in the preparation work load.  We obtained a flatbed trailer, and decorated it in blue and white (school colors) bunting and paper pom-poms.  Mix simple tasks with plentiful amount of Bud Light, and fun and frivolity was had by all.  Over half the class showed up, and after the obligatory group shot, John mooned the spouses taking pictures...  Our athletic star and valedictorian Paul showed off by demonstrating that his letterman's jacket still fit! 

After float preps were finished, most of us walked the block and a half downtown to Steffen's Tap - THE place to be in Calamus (and likely the only place open after 5pm).  They had a street dance, complete with smoker fixing pork chop sandwiches and brats that were absolutely fabulous, and plentiful cold beer to help with reminiscing about the good ole' days.  We finally departed for our motel room 12 miles to the east about 11:30pm.

Saturday dawned perfectly clear, though pretty warm and humid - perfect parade weather!  What kind of parade can small-town Iowa throw?  Well, it was pretty cool - pretty much anyone with an old car, tractor, local fire departments, or people running for political office were welcome to jump in!  Throwing candy to the kids along the route seemed to be the popular thing to do.  We had a couple more alums come for the day's festivities, making 15 attendees of the 23 graduates - 2/3 of our class!  I rode the float with classmates while Melinda took pictures from the sidelines.  The  time stamps on the image files reveals the parade lasted 15 minutes from the one location.  Of course, since we were moving, it seemed longer... 

In the crowd were 2 of my sisters and a brother that had come to enjoy the festivities and see their black sheep brother.  Afterwards we adjourned to the nearby city park for more bar-b-qued pork products and games for the kids.  My great niece Alivia (shown at left) came to collect a bag of candy from the parade and some good swag from the kid's games.  Also joining us on Saturday was my high school buddy Jeff (at right), who couldn't join us the evening before.  After 20 years (since the last reunion I had attended), it was great to see and catch up with him - as it was with all my former classmates.  With a class this small, it seemed that over the years you got to be almost best friends with all of them.  No one ever warned us that as graduation approached so fast 40 years ago that you would so quickly lose contact with these people with which you spent so many years.

After lunch, some chose to take a tour of the old school, though much of the old building had been renovated and most of the high school no longer exists.  The highlight was the hallway near the cafeteria that had the pictures of graduating seniors from the past (our year shown at top of post).  Some played a round of golf at the local country club, while we hung out with our local classmate and host Dave Schau.  We finally finished off the weekend with a class dinner at the country club, laughing over the photos from a pile of old yearbooks.  The consensus seemed to be that we would meet again in 5 years - Melinda and I had a great time and are already looking forward to it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GREAT blog, Dean! What a terrific page to read. Loved the photos and the great comments about the reunion and all the awesome classmates we grew up with!

Great seeing you again. Thanks!!
Joanne Wagner