Some came early and some stayed late. That seems to be the trend of late. More and more classmates are taking advantage of the good hotel rates but, more importantly, are extending their reunion stay to spend more time with fellow classmates. That certainly was the case for this year's reunion in the Italian community of Lyndhurst, New Jersey. For Tony Adamo it was not only a reunion but a re-connection to his past. He once lived in Lyndhurst and his uncle was on the police force. Not many of his relatives remain in the area today but it still was a nostalgic trip for Tony as he spent time driving along the familiar streets and stopping for pastries at the old Italian bakery.
In total we had 31 classmates that attended this year's reunion and if you add up the spouses, friends and other family members the total attendance was 46. The Wednesday crowd totaled 12; Thursday's 22; Friday's 44; Saturday's 46 and Sunday's 22.
The class of 1961 led the alumni with 13 in attendance, just one short of the record 14 that attended their 40th anniversary at Singer Island, FL in 2001. Coming in at a distant second was the class of 1962 at 5. For the other class years the totals were: 1958 1; 1959 2; 1960 2; 1963 2; 1964 2; 1965- 2; 1969 1 and 1973 1.
Looking back, if you count the big, all-school reunion that took place in 1989 (Washington, DC), this year's reunion was number 17. Hard to believe, isn't it. Time has a way of moving on.
Will it ever stop raining .
For those that thought they were heading to the dry Northeast, it certainly was a surprise when they encountered a torrential storm that persisted until late Friday night. At one time (on Wednesday) the street in front of the hotel had to be closed due to flooding (2 feet of water at the intersection). However, by Saturday morning there remained few signs of the nine-day drenching that preceded.
Friday night started the official activities with a social hour followed by an indoor BBQ. The original plans called for an outdoor party by the pool but the weather just would not cooperate. After the BBQ we spent the rest of the evening in our "Teen Club" meeting room sharing memories, looking at pictures and listening to our oldies collection of tunes.
On Saturday we started the day with our reunion meeting (too early for some), then took group and class pictures before heading out on assorted journeys to nearby attractions. Most, however, took advantage of the blue skies and headed into New York City for some sightseeing with fellow classmates. Some went to Little Italy for a casual lunch while others headed to Battery Park and boarded the Staten Island Ferry for a scenic ride across the NY Harbor to Staten Island and back. Along the way they were presented with views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, to name a few. Still others decided to approach the harbor from the Jersey side where they were able to take a cruise to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. As a tip - if you ever want to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, do it from the Jersey side. The crowds are fewer in number and your chances are much greater of getting there, right Harry.
Saturday was indeed a busy day. For those that ventured off, they had to be back at the hotel by no later than 6 p.m. in order to have time to get ready for the traditional Saturday night dinner. And this year's dinner was extra special - we had dinner at a restaurant owned by an alumni. Claudette Herring, younger sister of Elda (Herring) Eckles, is not only the owner, but she is also the chef - a double treat. "A Tavola Ristorante" was our destination for Saturday's dinner.
Since the restaurant was in Old Bridge, NJ (about 37 miles to the south) we had a logistical problem with getting 44 people there and back - particularly considering that few had cars and most like to drink good wine with dinner. The solution, of course, was to charter a bus, and that we did. But not just any bus - we rode on a big yellow school bus. Later that evening, we arrived back at the hotel around 1:30 a.m. Even at that hour, some had enough energy left to head for the meeting room for a night cap and a little conversation.
Sunday certainly came early and, once again, it was time to venture off on some more excursions to the Big Apple. Twelve of us headed to Brooklyn, via bus and subway, and met up with a few others at Joe Auer's place (in Brooklyn) before embarking on a walking tour of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan and Ground Zero. Then we headed to Lombardi's in Little Italy for some pizza where we rendezvoused with other classmates that had been touring other parts of the city. The miracle of cell phones kept us all connected so that we could meet and share pizza together before heading back to the hotel that evening. If you haven't had pizza at Lombardi's, you're missing a great treat. It's the oldest licensed pizzeria in the US and the owner will be celebrating Lombardi's 100th anniversary this November. On that day, the pizzas will sell for a nickel, just as they did back in 1905.
Those of us that hung around Sunday night camped out (not literally) in the meeting room and tried to conserve what little energy we had left. The weekend was fun-filled, with plenty to do and, as usual, seemed to fly by.
Monday offered some of us the chance to cross the street and have another meal at Harold's of New York, a favorite hangout for good deli food. Harold's is a place where two can order and six have trouble eating the portions - they're huge and not cheap. I guess that's why most of us gained a few pounds over the long weekend. Add to that the beer and wine and you start to better understand why our belts seemed a little tighter.
'til next year,