I’ve been to my share over the years, participating in some and at many others, taking photos of “old timers” who gathered for dinner and then, years later, appeared for a luncheon (and then a nap). Now I am one of those “old timers.”
Our class — Tracy High 1950 — had our most recent reunion in 2000. And everyone agreed then that it would be the last. And it was.
Not so with the Class of 1951. Over the years, it has gained the reputation as one of the most active classes, reunion-wise, holding three-day reunions every five years. This year was no exception, although the three days were cut to two. This year is the class of 1951’s 60th anniversary, which for me was a good reason to take part in the gathering.
Saturday evening, as the sun was beginning to set behind Mount Diablo, I was at the Louie and Betty Galli garden out on Platti Road north of town. It was the augmented Class of 1951 reunion, and I was among the “augmented,” having graduated from Tracy High a year earlier than the 51-ers.
It was one of those great summer evenings — and we’ve had more than our share this year — with just a gentle breeze and no gale-force winds, this time in an expansive garden in back of the Gallis’ Victorian-era rural home.
Louie died last year, but Betty, as always, was there welcoming folks. Seated nearby was her longtime friend Cathy Hariton, who sent out invitations, took in the money and kept everything in order. Frank Lima made sure everyone arriving was taken care of. At an adjacent table, Johanne Furrer Duffy from Alameda and Patty Moon Scherer from Liberty, Ind., were deep in conversation.
Even familiar faces from the old Parker Acres neighborhood, Jeanne Sattler Kooyman of Stockton and Derith Pearce Foreman of Nipomo, popped up.
The 60th anniversary reunion meant most classmates were 78 years old or thereabouts, but it seemed there were a good many people at reunion who appeared healthy and fit.
But a reminder of the age thing was spelled out in the flier announcing the reunion. It said, “Name tags will be printed in large type.” And then, down at the bottom of the page, “Wheelchairs can be accommodated.”
Several of my Class of 1950 classmates were there. Shirley Sousa Sutton handed up glasses of sparkling wine as we entered, and Charlotte Parker Junqueiro was seated nearby. Some “younger” ones, such as Marvin and Lorraine Foster, also were on hand.
It was what a class reunion should be — hellos, hugs, wine, soft drinks and catered dinner, with many folks table-hopping. There was no lengthy program. Dancing came later in the evening. How long the party lasted, I don’t know, since I was among the early leavers.
Classmates returned to the Galli garden Sunday morning for breakfast and a brief program before heading home, whether in Tracy or wherever.
Will they be back in five years? Obviously, not all of them will, but I’ll bet a majority returns, and I’ve been told the next reunion will be in a short three years. The Class of 1951 may well set some kind of record for reunions.
As with most class reunions, the printed program carried a growing list of class members who had died over the years. Such a list is be expected when the class members are closing in on 80. I noted that among them was the bright, witty Mary Karen Wasmer Albano, our neighbor who died just last year.
One name was not on the departed list, but not among those present in the Galli garden Saturday night either. Mike Erceg, one of the class bulwarks who for much of the past half-century headed up the barbecuing of steaks for the class reunions, resides in the Astoria Gardens facility for Alzheimer’s patients.
Goll dang, we sure missed that guy.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.