School bus ride 50 years later
by Loraine Faschingbauer
This reunion of grade school years at a one-room schoolhouse was a beehive of chatter. It was like getting back on the grade school bus 50 years later. A few of the students were missing, but I could picture them in their seats.
Everybody brought picnic foods and refreshments. Two long tables for food and refreshments were set up.
Temperatures were in the high 80s under a bright sun.
Looking over the crowd, I wondered if I would know anybody. Years had gone by swiftly, and I was now completely grayed (never did want to color my hair) and a bit thicker around the middle.
Through the door came a couple I recognized. We decided to take our potlucks to the tables and see who else we knew. A name tag was placed on my blouse. Immediately I was swamped by “Hello, what you been doing these years? Where do you live now? Are you retired yet?” Now the old memories of the school classes and the bus rides were brought back to life.
I confess I hadn't kept up with these folks once I left the area. My curiosity was enormous about how they'd aged, how they looked, and what they did for a living. The one remark, “I almost didn't come, because I thought I wouldn't know anybody,” said we all had the same feelings in coming today. Fifty years was a long time ago.
How delightful to remember back to those “first crushes.” Old beaus asked if I remembered things that were said and done that made a lasting impression.
Many songs were sung on that school bus ride to and from school. I was reminded of the music, and I sang out with no fear of the sound I made. My laughter and singing were contagious. Eventually every student followed my example. One of the crowd spoke up and said, “We can't sing like we did back then. Our breathing is more serious now.” And, oh, those yearly school pictures we had to take home to show our parents. One man actually brought along some old pictures to pass around. We all looked so different. The men had filled out from being so skinny. Some were bald. The distinguished gray heads stood out. Hair coloring helped a few of the ladies, and I was not the only gray hair. Some of the girls had added pounds, and the chunky ones had slimmed down. Whatever our lot, aging had been kind.
About the author
Loraine Faschingbauer lives and writes in Bloomer, Wisconsin.
Reunion West began in the east, on Long Island, New York's, “Far East.” After graduation in 195l, some Baldwin High School classmates went off to college, but most went to work; girls married young, raised families and stayed.
A few, like class explorer Bill Goodwin, ventured away and settled in places most in the class could only imagine. Bill moved to Montana, where snowy peaks and crisp air were in sharp contrast to sultry flatland towns like Baldwin that dotted the south shore of Long Island.
Almost five decades later, Bill invited classmates to Montana for the first class reunion away. “East goes West” was published in Reunions magazine in Spring 1996. High attendance and the success of Reunion West I in Montana encouraged another reunion away from home.
Three years ago, Bill moved from Montana to Albuquerque, New Mexico. With a southwestern reunion in mind, he began exploring the dry desert region of his new home state. New friends and good community rapport helped direct the southwestern experience for Reunion West II. Bill found the best places to stay, eat and shop in and around Albuquerque. He mapped out side trips and set up tours. After a year of preparation, Reunion West II became the reality that brought “Easterners” to the West for its second reunion away from home. With Bill as a personal guide, what could make for a better way to feel at home away from home?
Note: Baldwin High grads from all classes still gather at Jones Beach for an annual beach party reunion that captures memories of swimming in the cool Atlantic by day and being warmed by shore bonfires (no longer legal) under the stars at night.
Reunion search for roots
by Doris Norrito Albuquerque
This was one reunion we couldn't miss. Sure it would be great to see classmates again after so many years; but a reunion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was almost providential. We had to go. Albuquerque is my husband's family name and Reunion West II was a chance to find out more about the city that bears his name. Often trips to the Land of Enchantment had been pushed aside in favor of family visits to Brazil, where Paulo was born. Reunion West II was a siren song, a calling to discover part of the country we hadn't seen while finding roots to the old world.
Baldwin High School Class of '51 explorer Bill Goodwin lost no time investigating Albuquerque after his move from Montana. With an eye on Reunion West II, he lined up activities to engage everyone's interest and accommodate their activity levels.
“Getting us all together was most important,” said Bill.
For the Albuquerques, it was that and more.
Present and past histories were interwoven. Classmates with whom I had shared a lifetime, mingled with dreams of a colonial past and wonder about the first Duke of Albuquerque.
Tracing roots began well before the September trip. Hours with email and phone calls to Brazil dead-ended. Paulo's father came from Portugal, married a Brazilian woman and had ten children.
A call to the genealogy society in Albuquerque surprised me. No Albuquerque was listed. In fact, I would later learn, the Duke of Albuquerque, for whom the city was named, never set foot there. Curiosity heightened. How did the “Duke City” come by our name? Maybe the answers were there.
“Just let's go and enjoy,” Paulo said. We suspended Albuquerque queries. When we made reservations for the trip, this was the conversation.
“Yes, got the city but what's your name?”
Surprise, interest and friendly questioning invariably followed; no one let us forget. At least there were no requests for spelling, though later we learned that even the spelling had been changed.
The dry desert and mountains of the great southwest were a new and welcome change from our sultry east coast shoreline and far different from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro where Paulo grew up. Rekindling memories with classmates--swimming, fishing and boating in the cool Atlantic--were all the “roots” I needed.
For Paulo, the Hotel Albuquerque was the only place to stay. The Spanish-Native Indian décor and the wide tile-lined entrances with large urns of fresh flowers set a mood for discovering “his” city.
For five days Hotel Albuquerque was home base for evening dinners that followed day trips to historic Old Town, to Santa Fe and atop Sandia Peak for a spectacular view of the city. It was also a message center and meeting base for side trip departures.
Our first get-together at the rustic Los Amigos Roundup broke the ice. Alumni and friends talked, danced, ate barbeque and experienced southwestern entertainment by the Watermelon Mountain Jug Band and the Aztec Fire Dancers. Entertainment with local flair accompanied the lively buzz of conversations about where to go and what to see.
Next morning we strolled to historic Old Town‚ ten minutes away. Across from the 18th Century San Feliipe de Neri Church, a tree-lined plaza centers shops, museums and eateries. Credit cards got a double take and friendly kidding when I introduced Paulo as “The Duke of Albuquerque.”
Research of the city's name - our name - soon took a back seat to a scenic drive to Santa Fe, the sunset funicular ride to Sandia Peak, a tour of a Native American nation, and a drive along the Turquoise trail. No one we spoke to knew any one else named Albuquerque.
At the Albuquerque Museum, we learned the reason. In 1706, the city began as a small unstructured settlement. Francisco Cuervo y Valdes, then provisional governor of this new territory, wrote King Philip V of Spain and, most important, wrote the viceroy of New Spain (stationed in Mexico), describing the settlement in glowing terms in the hope of gaining favor by establishing a town. Cuervo reported there were indeed 30 families, an urban center and a governing body. And knowing that the viceroy was “The Duke of Alburquerque,” a walled town in Spain, he flattered him by proposing the settlement be named “villa of Alburquerque.” (not a mistake: the original spelling had an extra “r”).
Formal investigation in 1712 found requirements for the villa were not as reported. There was no church, no plaza and no government buildings. But by then, Albuquerque had grown and the charter was not revoked.
After four days of southwest immersion, Reunion West II met at Hotel Albuquerque to say adios. “Til we meet again,” the theme for our last dinner together, led the way for planning the next reunion.
“Spain!” I shouted.
“No, the years are catching up; maybe a gentle cruise,” someone said.
“Make it soon,” another shouted.
About the author
Doris Norrito Albuquerque is a news correspondent and features writer for Tampa Bay Newspapers weekly publications, WMNF community radio news broadcaster and freelance magazine writer.
Class reunion planning dilemma
Can you help?
Gary Hodge helps plan the North Tonawanda (New York) High School, Class of 1980, reunion. He writes ... I am trying to learn what other class reunion committees do in reunion years and NON reunion years to increase their web site traffic. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org
Our suggestions would be to be active on the web site and think of things to bring people back regularly; discussion forum, provocative posts, add lots of pictures all the time, mining good news all the time. Or maybe, occasionally, a little controversy? Using Facebook and instagram to feed the web site. You need to stand out because there are many ways to distract all of us. What are your ideas?