Our class is very close even after 61 years. We have monthly lunches, and on occasion there have been over 20 people, some from afar.
Last year we planned a stylish two day party at the Oakwood Resort and had a huge turnout. Then came COVID. Many of these old farts have medical complications that make them vulnerable.
When vaccines were deployed in record time last year, we waited for positive data and postponed until September 11, 2021, with the idea of ââhonoring class first responders and the military on Remembrance Day.
Donna (Stark) Lantis, the Elkhart County Lamb Queen, was the master of ceremonies for our âGazebo Gatheringâ.
CLASS MILITARY HISTORY
After a refreshing boat ride on the resort’s houseboat, we started our afternoon program at the lookout. Diana (Taylor) Linn, Ann (Hess) Bower and Joan (Johnson) Clipp led the military reconnaissance program.
Most of us were born in 1942, and many had family members during World War II. Four classmates had a father who served – all returned. Several uncles also served. One of the fathers, Sgt. ML Jenkins, was honored in a June 4, 1945 article in The Elkhart Truth. Cheryl, her daughter and classmate, drove from Sumrall, Mississippi, to attend the reunion. A veteran of the Navy herself, she participated in the afternoon program.
The third son in my family, Lewis Shaum, joined the Army after graduating from Concord in 1942. Sadly he was killed in April 1945 when Patton’s Third Army was indeed in Germany. Lewis’s story can be found in my book âIn Search of a Soldier, the Unknown Brotherâ. I don’t remember him.
Group members and family members of the group also served in Korea and pre-Vietnamese times.
Seven class and family members served in Vietnam with multiple citations received.
Then the children in the class served in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a family who had three daughters and sons-in-law, one of whom was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot.
Cheryl (Jenkins) Straw and Bev (Bourne) Maker led a class trivia session that got a little unruly with class members shouting answers rather than raising their hands. Anyway, everyone had fun.
Sandra (Tutorow) Moore, the mother of three daughters who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and an ordained minister, offered our class prayer to close the program.
YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP
The COVID concerns prompted the cancellation of a couple, including one from Seattle (Vietnamese vet and college roommate) and another from Tennessee (a 37-year-old Air Force veteran). Anyway, besides Mississippi we had people from Texas, Florida, Kansas, Minnesota, Kentucky, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern Wisconsin.
Twenty-one attended lunch on the resort’s back porch, but for dinner we added seven more. Chef Simroy Campbell was very accommodating and allowed us to order off the menu for both meals. With this opportunity, many people have opted for raw sea bass dishes, especially fresh oysters. I had six for dessert.
Other class favorites included the lobster roll, pasta, appetizers (squid was popular), and salads, where you could add your choice of protein. A popular salad was the Mediterranean with grilled tuna.
I opted for the grilled tuna aperitif accompanied by a cinnamon-chipotle crust – unusual but excellent! Gayle, my wife, opted for the spicy seafood maki roll. We were both happy.
A classmate ordered the “Taste of Jamaica”. This golden brown half chicken is served with a jerk sauce and classic Jamaican sides of fried plantains, rice and beans.
A couple of ladies went out of their way and ordered desserts. One was lava cake and the other was bread pudding. But the dessert king was one of the guys. He ate Katy’s famous apple pie at least three times, and for lunch all he ordered was a trendy pie. All the desserts were huge.
It was wonderful to see these people. For some, it’s been 11 years; for others, six years. At our attrition rate, we may not have another meeting. Of the 81 graduates, only 45 remain, to our knowledge. We don’t hear five or six. More than half of the people attended.
Many concluded the evening by pontificating sitting around a fire by the lake. What a perfect ending.
The next day, we dispersed towards reality.
Loren shaum is an automation engineering consultant, retired pilot, author, home gardener, and sometimes chef. He and Gayle reside in Syracuse. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.