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Voices from the past
by Jodi M. Webb

Baby photos - they seem to be a staple of reunions. But since many reunion members met as young adults, the idea of matching chubby, bald, toothless babies to the young people they remember seems like an impossible task. Instead, try using voices from the past that start people reminiscing. Set up a match-the-quote activity. Although it may be difficult to recognize snapshots taken decades ago, words always have a familiar ring.

Who could forget the classmate who was forever explaining forgotten homework to exasperated teachers with, “There just aren't enough hours in the day. Did we change the clocks and lose an hour yesterday?” Or the shipmate who finished every cleaning job with, “That's as clean as my mama's kitchen floor. And believe me, that's clean!” And the grandmother who greeted a dirty face at her dinner table with, “You must be one of the neighbor's kids. No one in MY family would come to the table looking like that.” Or who prefaced each Sunday family dinner with, “We're never going to eat if you people don't get those extra chairs in here.”

He said, she said, they said

When choosing quotes, make sure they're memorable to more than just you. Pick frequently repeated quotes, like the grumpy comment dad made as he walked into the house after work - every day for 40 years. Words remaining in people's memories are those associated with special occasions. Tom Smith may have ended only one Christmas Concert with a muffled, “Yeow! Get off my foot, George!” but everyone in the Glee Club and audience still remembers it. When choosing quotes, avoid troublemakers. If an off-color, cruel or controversial statement led to arguments, tears or detentions the first time around, chances are hurt feelings still exist.

What's your favorite quote?

Setting up a match-the-quote activity is much easier with many people's input. Include with each invitation a request for famous words; contact people to help. Don't rely solely on your memory; get quotes from many sources. After all, if you don't know the Kansas relatives very well, someone has to introduce those famous Kansas quotes.

What the principal said

Don't be afraid to include posthumous quotes. Often reunion planners ignore missing friends in order to avoid grieving during what they hope will be a happy occasion. Quotes can be an effective way to alleviate sadness as attendees relate fond memories brought to mind by a quote.

Unsaid quotes

In addition to the words of old friends, quotes can be found in many other places. Quotes can include everything from the administrative warnings posted in the cafeteria (that were meant to be threatening but everyone found ridiculous) to the muffled announcements over the PA system to the one-size-fits-all excuse note that Aunt Martha sent whenever someone was absent from school.

Answer box

Memories have a way of dimming just when we need them most. To help your friends unravel the puzzle of quotes, provide an answer box of names to make choosing easier. You can also preface quotes with a hint that sets the scene such as “Every time the dog got into the garbage, who could be heard to yell …” or “When he pulled guard duty for both Christmas and New Year's Eve, who threatened …?”

The fun with quotes doesn't end with finding out who said what. Each quote leads to a story, a memory, a laugh. Let the voices of the past turn awkward semi-strangers back into the good friends they once were.

About the author
Jodi M. Webb is a freelance writer from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Although she has only one brother and three children, Ms. Webb always describes herself as coming from a “big family.” The majority of her 12 cousins and their 14 children still live in Pennsylvania.

 

Believe it! an 80th class reunion!
Ethel Cade plans to celebrate Class of 1928
Emporia Gazette - Emporia, KS, USA, By Joey Berlin
Reaching your high school class' 80th anniversary reunion might seem like a big deal to everyone but the person who actually achieves it. ...

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Reunion warm-up
   
In an effort to focus attention on the upcoming 55-year reunion of Warren Harding HS, Warren, Ohio, Class of 1948, Jean Totten and Ralph Capito and spouses gathered classmates who live in Arizona. They set a time and centrally located place for a pre-reunion get-to-know-one-another social.
   Here five former classmates and spouses, Ann Thompson Yerkes, Jean Totten Rice, Ruth Young Norling, Vera Capito, Richard Norling, enjoy an evening at the Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa. Members flew and drove some Arizona distances to join in.
   “It was just like an old hometown gathering. I enjoyed them all and I hope they all had a good time,” organizers said.
  Submitted by Bill Williams, Norfolk VA

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General Myers reports to oldest friends
Recently retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers spoke at his Shawnee Mission (Kansas) North High School Class of 1965 reunion. These were friends he's known since kindergarten.
The chairman used the opportunity to report about the state of the military and progress in the war on terror. Myers said everyone can do something to strengthen America, pointing to teachers, "who are the most important people we have in this country."
Myers told classmates he hopes we can keep our resolve, because if we don't, the life our children and grandchildren are going to have will be much different than how we grew up.
From an American Forces Press Service press release.

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Student protesters plan reunion
The Black student protest at the University of Minnesota in 1969 culminated in the occupation of the central administration building, Morrill Hall. The protest led to the establishment of the Department of Afro-American/African Studies, the MLK support program for students of color, hiring Black faculty and an increase of students of color on the campus.
The 1969 Morrill Hall Reunion Committee and the Coalition for the History of African American Contributions to the University of Minnesota are planning a two-day celebration April 2006 with workshops, panel discussions and discussion of the state of the freedom struggle today.
Organizers are trying to locate people who participated in the protest. Contact Rose Freeman-Massey, 3874 North 42nd Street, Milwaukee WI 53216; 414-873-7712.
From an article by Chris Nisan in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, South Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Entertainment industry alumni meet
Notre Dame alumni who work in the entertainment industry returned from Hollywood and other world media centers for the Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) Alumni Reunion. An Alumni Film Fest featured five short films created by Notre Dame graduates, and a screening of The Late Shift by Bill Carter, now television writer for The New York Times.
Students got a chance to meet and talk to alumni to learn firsthand how the industry operates. There were panels and workshops about a variety of topics, including program development, ethics in broadcast journalism, writing, producing and editing. Theater workshops included panels about acting, producing and the societal role of theater.
Tales by FTT alumni of hard work, failure and success demonstrated possibilities open to graduates in the entertainment industry. The reunion was also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of graduates.
From a story by Brian Doxtader in Observer Online, Indiana.

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Elementary school classmates celebrate
The 1966 graduating class of PS 173 in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York, celebrated its 40-year reunion early with about 75 of the original 190 classmates from all over the US. Word spread rapidly when Debra Davidson, a PS173 alumna, started to plan. Many who had not spoken since elementary school bonded through a website with a flurry of bios, e-mails and phone calls.
"Remembering back to PS 173, John F. Kennedy was elected President, and two years later the principal announced he was assassinated. We watched John Glenn orbit the earth, the World's Fair of 1964-1965 was within three miles of school, Malcolm X was murdered and Alice Crimmins might have murdered her own children. The Beatles appeared in the US for the first time in 1964. Overall, these days were happy, carefree and full of bonds the reunion re-cemented.
A memory page sadly recalls nine no longer with us. It is like having lost close family. Some former classmates were not located. But no one gave up the hope the rest would be found. Contact Debra Davidson at DebraLDavidson@aol.com

 

Thank you very much. Your magazine has been very helpful in getting our reunion organized.
Eleanor Phillips Coody, Class of 1958 Reunion Committee Coordinator, Bushwick High School, Brooklyn New York.

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