Many class reunions come and go, but in our case, the memory of our 50th high school reunion will remain with us forever. The weekend of June 20-22, 2014 marked our 50th Reunion and what a memorable weekend it was from start to finish.
To all the classmates who attended and participated in the reunion, I thank you so much as does the reunion committee. To Mary Tobias Gonzalez, Betty and Bill Fussell, Mary Ann Read Jackson, Johnny Mac Stephens, Erma Eberlan, Maggi Tyerina, Linda Lacey Vestal, Bea Jacobs Rouse, Marian Riley Arens, Chapman and Monica Baber, Roy Trevino, Carmen Mendez Gomez, Harry Brendgen, Allen Schoppe, Richard Craw … you guys made it all happen. All went as planned, we stayed within the budget, we had a great time planning the reunion, and most importantly, the outcome was a tremendous success.
The reunion weekend began with a “Mixer,” a social usually intended mostly for those who stay at the hotel the night before the main event; but we were delighted that so many classmates from the area attended. The rain and Friday afternoon traffic did not hold back the 90 plus classmates and guests. Live entertainment to Broadway tunes was provided by Walter La Forge and Ralph Chavarria also entertained us with his collection of “oldies but goodies” all piped through his custom-made jukebox. What a treat that was!
Since the Mixer was held during the dinner hour, everyone was treated to a buffet of prime rib, honey- glazed ham and roasted turkey accompanied by four-cheese block trays, veggie trays and an assortment of seasonal fruits. Specially ordered cakes decorated in our schools colors and signifying our 50th Reunion were enjoyed by all. No one left hungry.
For those who have attended previous reunions, remember the 10’ tall stand up poster of Mr. Rodgers and the graduating class photo? Both made it to the reunion, but not in the best shape. A torrential rain got them completely wet. With some quick drying and a little pampering both made it through the reunion, only for the last time. I will miss the old man since he has been with me for the past years.
I was so happy to see classmates visiting, catching up on the latest, showing their family photos and making it a real Mixer. No one was camera shy because everywhere one turned, there were photos being taken. Ernest Trevino, our class reunion roving photographer, must have taken more than 200 photos that night.
The partying continued after 9:00 pm in the “Reunion Suite” on the 12th floor of the hotel. The committee made sure that it was well stocked with favorite beverages and lots of munchies. The music also continued, thanks to Roy Trevino who brought his boom box. What a nice evening it was and a prelude to what was coming up next. Getting a good night’s rest was in order for many of the committee members since there was much to do the next day.
Then came the day that we long awaited, our 50th high school reunion … our “Senior Prom,” no pun intended. Getting an early start is always a must in planning a three-day event. There was stage and music to set up, registration area to arrange in a manner that would greet our classmates in an orderly fashion, and the ballroom to decorate appropriately for the occasion. Mr. Rodgers made his final appearance and was ready to watch us all party like it was “1964.”
Of course no reunion goes without having timeless photos of our school days and memorabilia that represented us. Thanks to Linda Lacey Vestal, she was able to bring many of those memories with her and set up the display in one corner of the ballroom. Linda was kept quite busy by classmates who visited the area.
We were now set and ready to go. One quick short meeting and a quick look over of the ballroom and it was off to rest a bit and get ready for 5:00 pm was fast approaching. By 6:00 pm the registration area was filled with laughs, hugs, kisses, pats on the back and a NAME TAG! For some of us, we needed that glance to the chest area to compare name tag and face as we greeted our classmates. Regardless, we were so happy to see them.
As classmates registered, they were given a priceless “commemorative book", appropriately named Our Journey by the committee, and the ladies received a long-stem rose. By then, the cash bar was set up and hors d’oeuvres were being served at one end of the registration area. C&J Digital provided the photography for the reunion. They too were set up in the registration area. What a nice set up. The prices were right and the photographs professionally done and were ready in minutes. Thank you, Maggi Tyerina for recommending Chuck and Juan. They delivered and pleased us all.
One of the best parts of reunions is having our teachers as our special guests. It was so nice to have in our presence Coach Walter Jones, Mrs. Laverne Shelton and her husband, Joe and of course, our own, Erma Burchfield Eberlan who is a member of the reunion committee. What an asset she has been.
Music is always a big factor in planning reunions. Even at our age, we love to dance to great music. Thanks to Johnny Mack Stephens who introduced us to the Mickey Hobbs Trio, we danced the night away. I cannot tell you how great the music was. Mickey is not only a great singer, but also a professional entertainer who likes to mingle with the audience. He was accompanied by a keyboard player and a beautiful young lady who had a voice to match. One would think the trio was a twelve-piece orchestra. (I highly recommend them.) Our own Ralph Chavarria and his 60’s sounds provided us the right mix of music as we ate our dinner and filled-in at breaks as we continued to enjoy the evening.
There are two committee members who I want to applaud. They are Betty Leatherwood and her husband Bill Fussell who are members of the committee. They helped us tremendously with overseeing the registration process and door prizes for our 50th Reunion. (The majority of the door prizes were donated by Betty and Bill.) Bill also did an outstanding job as master of ceremonies for the veteran presentation. I must also mention that since the 45th Reunion, Betty and Bill have been instrumental in coordinating all the raffles, door prizes and silent auctions which have raised more than $5,000 with all proceeds going towards our 50th Reunion. Thank you both so much for you hard work.
There is no doubt that the veteran presentation was one of the most memorable moments of the reunion. Veterans from the Class of ‘64 were called to the stage by Bill as each of the military anthems played. Taps was played as Bill called out the names of veterans who are deceased. In the audience were three of the widows, Elaine Strack Bramall (Billy), Nellie Hernandez Borrego (Eddie), and Irma Martinez Herrera (Henry). Each veteran was then given an opportunity to say a few words. As a memento, all were given a commemorative silver dollar in a case and a Davis baseball cap. I appreciate and thank my fellow veterans who participated in the presentation and who submitted the service information for the commemorative book.
Speaking of commemorative book, it is fair to say that our 50th Reunion commemorative book was one of the best ever. Kudos and so much more go to Mary Tobias Gonzalez for all her hard work in producing the book. She exceeded all expectations. I also thank Mary Ann Read Jackson and Betty Leatherwood Fussell for assisting Mary with editing responsibilities and updating the directory. The design and printing quality of the book, formal invitations and program were exceptional, thanks to Johnny Mack Stephens and Star Engraving. It was beyond what I expected.
My special thanks go to Monica Baber, Rose Tobias Elrod and Geneva Tobias Green for all their help at the registration table. They gave committee members the breather they needed to enjoy the celebration … job well done, ladies!
It was unfortunate that at the last minute our keynote speaker was not able to attend. Dr. Perry Bassett, our class president and valedictorian, was scheduled to be with us to address the class. However, he did send us a written message which was read by Roy Trevino. I sincerely thank Perry for his monetary contributions to the class which helped to defray the cost of the reunion. He also made sure that each veteran present received a group photograph.
Also not in attendance but invited was the Jeff Davis school principal, Julissa Alcantar-Martinez. She has been very supportive of our class and reunion planning since our 49th mini reunion which was held at the school. At her suggestion, she, without hesitation, made available to our class the commemorative Davis plates. (Thank you Erma Eberlan for your suggestion too.) The first plate was auctioned at the 49th mini reunion and sold for $600. For our 50th, Mrs. Alcantar provided us with a limited number of plates (20) which sold for $100 each using a lottery system. Between the two, the Class of ’64 raised $2,600 for the Davis Culinary Department. To the lucky ones who now have a Davis plate, thank you for supporting our school. Enjoy showing it off for it is one of a kind.
As the evening came to a close, I, along with many committee members, was approached by classmates who expressed their sincere appreciation and thanks for a memorable 50th Reunion … “best reunion ever;” “had a great time;” “y’all out did yourselves;” “can’t wait for the next one;” “music was great;” “enjoyed the food;” “liked having photos developed that evening;” etc., etc. One comment, however, stuck in my mind when Sharon Arney told me, “Arnie, you and the committee have set the bar so high; there is no way any class can match this.” It was a nice compliment and much appreciated, especially for the committee who worked so darned hard to make this the “best reunion ever.” I thank you guys!
We have learned a few things from reunion planning that are worth mentioning: 1) The majority of our classmates live in the northwest quadrant of the county/counties. 2) There are many classmates who live out of state/country, Panama, Oregon, New York, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico, California, Tennessee, just to name a few. 3) At the reunion there were numerous classmates who had never attended a Class of ‘64 Reunion (Jerry Castleberry, Tommy Salterio, Manny Canales, Vicky Antrich, Shiara Phelps, Jim Brown, and Row-Ann Underwood. (Sorry if I forgot anyone else.) It was surprising to learn that our website had a hit from Russia, but do not know who it was…maybe Putin! 4) Some classmates who we contacted did not care to attend for various reasons. Unfortunately, health was one issue Some had unpleasant experiences in high school, others never knew anyone or only attended Davis one year and others just flat did not care to go, but for those who did attend, we appreciate you, and 5) Class reunions cost money. The estimated cost for our golden celebration was $24,000. We did our best to keep the cost per person as low as possible and we did. We thank the many classmates who donated money towards our reunion. Their names are listed in the commemorative book.
Are there future reunions in the horizon? We hope so. We plan to continue our annual gatherings and maybe a 55th Reunion at Davis. It would be nice to have it at the school only if all the renovations are complete. We will keep you abreast via the website, which by the way is approaching 20,000 hits. Mary Tobias Gonzalez has assured us that she will continue to maintain the website even from long distance since she will be moving to Dallas this year. Good luck, Mary. We will miss you very much.
Our 50th Reunion may now be a memory, but it will be a fond memory, one that we will always remember. I sincerely thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and for keeping the Davis Class of ’64 alive. It has been my pleasure. May God Bless You and Your Family and May God Bless America!