Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Charter Oak Class of 1978 30th Reunion
Things have been very busy at work. I have been working on a project to bring our software in compliance with the new credit card regulations. I have had very little time for myself and my family, not to mention that in the month of June, I was home for only one week out of the month.
While I would have liked to have left for the reunion on Thursday and drive to San Luis Obispo in time for the Farmers Market that evening, I had to stay and work a half day on Friday. When I finished working, I picked up Carmen, said goodbye to the kids. We took our time driving down south. We stopped by a roadside fruit stand to buy some fresh cherries.
We continued on to Morro Bay where my brother Bob and his girl friend Reva live. We all went out to dinner at a little restaurant on the water. We dined outside and the weather was perfect. It is amazing how much wild life is out there. Bob says when he goes out in the kayak, he often sees dolphins. We were not quite that lucky, but we did see sea lions, pelicans and the like. The sea food was delicious. After dinner, we went back to their house, where we enjoyed the cherries. After a wonderful visit, we drove a bit further south to Santa Maria and checked into our hotel.
After breakfast the next morning, we continued on our journey. I should mention that we took our Ford Escape hybrid and averaged between 34 and 35 miles per gallon, which is really good considering we have the all wheel drive version of this car which is only rated for 32 miles per gallon. My brother David lives in Van Nuys, so we met him on the way in Woodland Hills. The place Dave choose, was Jerry's Famous Deli. Apparently lots of producers...etc like to eat there. They serve fantastic deli food. Dave is in the movie and tv business and is doing okay. He will be appearing in an episode of Monk, where there is a boxing match. We enjoyed listening to Dave's stories. All too soon, it was time to hit the road again. We still had to drive down to Orange County for the reunion.
We pulled in to the Double Tree near John Wayne Airport and got checked in. The reunion would begin in about two hours. We got settled in, and went to the pool to swim and relaxed a bit. We went back to the room and got ready. Finally it was time to go down stairs. I was having some second thoughts, there were so many people that weren't going to be there such as Mark Mayamura, Carol Grafe, Hal Ryerson, Laura Tamura, Don Marshall, Kim Charles and more.
We went downstairs and I saw Donna Ezecheles. I had gone to school with her all the way from Washington Elementary though Charter Oak. She is such a lovely person. She had recently gotten married and shared her pictures with us. She was proud and we were all very happy for her. I started to relax. We saw Deann Call, who works so hard on putting on our reunions and is always so modest about her efforts. She has a way of making everyone feel so comfortable.
Judy Zieter is a girl that I had gone to school with since first grade. I remembered her because she could run faster than anyone else, including the boys. We had started emailing each other recently and she had decided to attend her first high school reunion ever. There she was, still blond and in great shape. It reminded me that I needed to drop some weight. I will be watching what I eat, writing it down, swimming and going to weight watchers. I introduced her to Carmen and we started chatting about old times. We really enjoyed her company.
Judy and I had been chatting for a while, when Danny Gelespie showed up. Like Judy, Danny had gone to the same elementary school. In fact we had been in cub scouts together and his mother had been our first den mother. He, I, Bill Ralls and others had our meetings in their garage. I retold the story about how his mom had us do a game where we were blindfolded. Then a pair of dish washing rubber gloves where put on us. In this condition we had to put on a nylon stocking. I remember thinking how easy it was going to be, but how hard I found it. It was a great lesson in senses. Danny said that is mom was doing great and had just retired. He promised to pass on our good wishes. One of the things that was so special about Danny showing up is that he did not graduate from Charter Oak. His family had moved to Oklahoma when he was in 9th grade, but he had to come. He grew up with us. He was one of us. It was very special that he came to the reunion.
At this point we were still out on the patio. The reunion had not officially started, but it had started anyway. Across on the other side was a new arrival, he was tall, he looked exactly the same as he had in School, except his hair had a touch of gray. It was Bill Ralls. Bill and I had been close over the years. We had gone to school together from Washington, Sunflower and Charter Oak. His younger brother Mike and my younger brother David had been at school together as well. We had been in Cub Scouts together. Bill always had the best looking car at the Pinewood Derby. We had spent time in each others houses, our parents knew each other. Bill remember how my dad had been Cub Master and my mother had been a den mother. Bill's mom is also retired and both her and his dad are doing well. I should mention that Bill had also been with me on the swim team and water polo team. We had spent a lot of time together. Bill is like a brother.
We moved from the patio into banquet room, but most of us had a hard time sitting down and eating. I looked over and there was Lisa Alberti. I had to say hello. That poor girl had to sit with me so many times over the years. You see, often times the teachers would have us sit in alphabetical order. With names like Alberti and Bear, we often where paired together. I felt sorry. After all, I was a bit of a handful as a kid, but she was kind and said she did not remember it being that bad. She is either kind of forgetful. Either way works for me. Lisa is stunning, tall blond and has a precious little girl. It was great catching up with her.
I finally got to sitting down at the table to eat. Other than Bill Ralls and my wife Carmen, I didn't recognize anyone else. Randy Carpenter introduced himself and his lovely wife. I knew the name, but really didn't know him. He explained that he had been a stoner. I said, so you spent your time across the street at the ... and we both said it at the same time. The "park" and we laughed. Randy had done a lot of booze and drugs, but had cleaned up his life and discovered God. Randy was such a delight. Not pushy about his religion at all, just kind and good natured. I am so glad he sat with us.
Tim Schultz and his wife were also sitting at our table. We had not known each other at Charter Oak, but the connection of being in the same graduating class brought us together, plus he and his wife live in Sacramento; only an hour from where we live. Really the first person we met that lived anywhere near us.
The gentleman sitting next to me said "Hi Ed". I did not know who he was. I did not have my glasses on so I could not read his name badge. I said "and you are....". He answered "Eric Schubel". Oh my gawd, he looked so different. Not bad at all, just different. Eric and I had been close. He moved into our area our freshman year. He was not only on the water polo and swim team with Bill Ralls and myself, but he and I also took four years of German together. You have to understand that during school we would start early in the morning, stretching, running, lifting weights and swimming. Then coach McNeil would give us some day old donuts that were donated by a local donut shop, which we though tasted delicious. First period five days a week was German. We had math together, alegbra, geometry, trig...etc. After school, it was swim workout or water polo. Even during the summer when school was not in, we played in AAU water polo tournaments. After a water polo or swim match our team often would eat together at a restaurant. We had spent a lot of time together. Eric is also like a brother to me and it was so good to see him and Bill Ralls.
There were so many other great people and conversations, Melinda Race, Angela Smith, Carla Anderson who lives about 30 minutes from us in Alameda. Scott Bramlett was another one that had moved and attended high school elsewhere but since he bad been with us since first grade through junior high, he was one of us and he and his new bride were there. Kim Charles and Randy Baumgardner were not able to attend but made entries into our reunion books.
Sony Conn, Louann Debolt, Susie Fliescher where there. Turns out Susie lives in Grants Pass, Oregon. I spent a lot of time there about 10 years ago. It is a small, but very wonderful town and we had a great time chatting about it. Dannette Holland had been a cheerleader. I never knew her, but she had noticed me in high school and was so kind to pass on some very touching words to me. Everyone was so kind, everyone went out of there way to be nice. We all had a special bond, we grew up together.
There were so many others and I can't cover them all. My wife retired to the room at about 11pm. She had chatted the night away with some of the other spouses. The event ended at mid-night, but that did not stop us. We continued outside back on the patio. I went upstairs and brought down the bottle of Cuban rum I had brought with me. We were all like a bunch of high school kids sneaking liquor.
As the evening was winding down, we noticed a couple on the other side of the patio, but none of us knew who they were. Deann Call happened to come over and she knows everyone. I asked her who that guy was. She spun around like a ballerina and said "That is Gary Dahle". She really is the perfect hostess. Oh my God! Gary, was with us from first grade at Washington. It was amazing how many people from Washington where there. It is too bad we forgot to get together to take a group picture. Immediately we headed over to chat with Gary.
Gary was a special guy and he and his wife could not be more charming. In school, Gary had been a bit of a wild kid. Never mean, just wild. Gary was also mentally gifted, which at the time did not make sense to me, except at Washington, they would take him out of class with the other gifted children for special classes. Gary and I both had Mr. Thompson in 6th grade at Sunflower. I remember when someone said that there was no such word as fishes, he corrected them and explained that fishes referred to multiple species of fish. It was the first time I realized this guy really is smart. We enjoyed chatting, joking and laughing. He and his lovely wife are so friendly and interesting. They make a perfect couple.
Just when you thought the evening could not get any better, some of the people had made a run to In and Out, and brought back Double Doubles with Grilled Onions, Fries, Shakes, the works. They would not take any money for it, but brought enough for everyone. What a way to finish of the evening. In and Out started in Southern California. We had all grown up eating our share. It brought back a flood of memories.
Before we knew it, the night was over. It was after 2am and time to go to bed. Even with all that time, there were still people I wanted to chat with, but had not had the chance. Someone had suggested that all of us staying at the hotel get together in the morning for breakfast between 8:00am and 8:30am. It sounded like a good idea and it was, but morning sure did come early.
Just before going to bed, I checked my email. There was a note from Diana Cobos. She had lived for years in New Mexico and moved two years ago to Upland, near where we grew up. The note indicated that her boyfriend had just inherited a house in New Mexico and they were moving back in two weeks. During the two years she had lived in Upland, my schedule never worked out to where I could visit despite all my travel. The one time she had been in the bay area, I had stopped reading my personal email and did not get her email until after she was back home. I sighed and went to bed.
The next morning we all made our way downstairs to the restaurant to have our final meal together. Judy, Susie, Danny .... so many where there. We finished, said our goodbyes. Carmen and I got into the car and headed on out. I placed a phone call to Diana Cobos, but got her voice mail. I told her that by chance I was down in Orange County for the reunion and that if she got the message in the next hour and was free that perhaps we could hook up for lunch. We drove north. Just as we were approaching the point of no return, I called one more time. I got the voice mail. I didn't leave a message, I just hung up determined to finish our trip, knowing that I had missed the opportunity to see her after so many years.
Seconds later, my cell phone rang. It was Diana. We agreed to meet halfway in Glendora where I had grown up. We met at Dennys, had a dessert and chatted for what was way too brief of a time. Carmen and her boyfriend were so great to allow us this time. They must have been bored to death.
I should explain that Diana was a senior when I was a freshman. She was so kind to us boys on the water polo and swim team. She was a lady, a woman no a girl. To us she was like a movie star and yet she liked to hang out with us. She was also so special. She was the first female to letter varsity on the mens swim team. Most important to me, is that she had been a dear friend.
We finished our dessert and it was time to leave way too soon. Carmen and I made our way back to Interstate 5 and drove through the Grape Vine. As soon as we got on the other side, we saw a warning that indicated that I5 was closed in 60 miles. That was not good news. We still don't know why. We guessed that it was because of the fires. We pulled over at the Petro Truck Stop. Got some food and supplies and took 99 N all the way back home. It was a long drive home. Carmen drove for a couple of hours. Once home, it was good to be home. I had to work the next day, but my mind was swimming with all the memories of the reunion and the past.
My first reunion was the 25th. I thought it was fantastic, but it doesn't hold a candle to the 30th. In every way, I felt truly blessed.
Posted by Ed Bear at 9:58 PM