Five More Minutes with Spends Time at a 50th Reunion

Written by Laurie Halladay on October 14, 2013

Laurie halladay 50 reunion five more minutes with website

One of our frequent contributors, Laurie Halladay, has just returned from her 50th high-school reunion in Monroe, Michigan. She shares her moving (and often funny!) experiences below, and a group photo above. Thanks, as always, Laurie!

I can’t believe that a week ago my plane was landing in Michigan for the start of my Reunion Week, and now I am flying home this afternoon. I wish I could press the rewind button.

But, I sure filled every moment with fun, and I truly talked myself out. (I know you can’t believe that one!!!) The week exceeded my expectations, and thanks to all who contributed their time and hospitality to me. It was fantastic.

My adventure began in Grand Rapids where my mom’s side of the family resides. I stayed with cousin Jane and know we got the same “talking” gene from some mouthy ancestor. We were hoarse by the time I left.

She took me to the Grand Rapid Art Prize, an art exhibition which covered the downtown. We had a family dinner, but that wasn’t enough, so her daughter Ingrid and cousin Laura showed up the next morning with scones and coffee to continue the gabfest until I ran out the door on Wednesday morning.

I headed east to Grand Ledge to see close family friend, Jody Vollrath, in her retirement home and to meet her daughter Judy. We had a beautiful luncheon in a private dining room and talked until 4 p.m. So many memories.

I got in the car and headed to Detroit to see Carolee from Florida who has a summer place in Oak Park. I got there in time for dinner and to meet her Michigan family over Chinese take-out. They were great and her brother-in-law got me back on the road to Monroe before dark.

Needless to say, I had no trouble sleeping. On Thursday, I was refreshed and back in reunion mode.

This time it was breakfast with my dad’s side of the family, followed by wonderful visits with my parents’ friends who were great influences in my life.

Then it was time to drive to the Detroit airport to pick up Mr. H. His plane was on time so we could make it to dinner at the Michigan Bar with my lifetime friends (kindergarten and camp mates) Nancy and Marilyn and their husbands. Being a small town, we ran into others and that kicked things off.

On Friday, Mr H and I did the “down memory lane bit” driving around Monroe, seeing my old house, which is now run down — very sad.

Back at the motel, I talked them into letting me see who was checking in. Lo and behold, Carl Monroe Savage, Jr. (a.k.a. Butch), the boy next door from the time I was three years old, was in the room next door to mine.

Also good friend John and his wife were there. So screams, hugs, and we were all off to the Friday-night party at Jack’s country house.

I went to school with Jack since kindergarten and he hosted about 100 of us. No name tags, so we had to embarrass ourselves when we didn’t recognize someone. But, it was the highlight of the weekend.

Several classmates I loved showed up for their first reunion 50 years later. I talked until I was frozen since the party took place outside.

On Saturday morning, many of us congregated at the old high school for a “tour.” Basically, we had our pictures taken and then were turned loose to roam in packs around the old halls checking out the boys and girls locker rooms.

No hall passes were needed, and no hall monitors like in days of old. They kicked us out after an hour, but we weren’t done talking (never were done talking.)

About 10 of us headed back to the Michigan Bar, sat outside in the sun, and swapped more stories.

Back to the hotel to get ready. I was not sure my outfit was the right one, but I wore the black pants and silky top instead of the black dress. It was the correct choice, and thanks to all that listened to my “what-am-I-going-to-wear” angst.

The big event was at the Masonic Temple where we had “Temple dances” on Friday nights after football games. This time, we looked like senior citizens, but still felt like 17-year-olds.

Thankfully, there were name tags this time. Mr. H decided to watch football, and let me be on my own for the reunion schmoozing.

We had pictures taken, and there was a DJ, but all people wanted to do was TALK. I felt I never had a chance to get to everyone, and I talked with some I couldn’t even remember.

The acoustics could have been better, and it got to the point where I was shouting to be heard and couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. So, I took a good long look at all of my classmates whom I may never see again, and said my farewells.

But, that was not the end. Still had another day!

On Sunday, there were coffee farewells with the classmates at my hotel and then we joined a table of eight at Cracker Barrel for another breakfast rehash of the reunion. This was followed by the Presbyterian Church bed races in the middle of town, a 4-p.m. feed with Nancy and Bob at the Michigan Bar, and a 6-p.m. “chicks-only” party at Bonnie’s. We made the most of it.

Leaving Monroe and all of my friends, relatives, and classmates brought a tear or two. I am one lucky kid for having grown up in “Mayberry” in the 1960s. I don’t think at the time that we ever thought we had it so good. But, we did!!!


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