These spring and summer weeks on the calendar from Memorial Day to Labor Day provide the time for picnics and reunions. This year we got off to a perfect start with the long-awaited gathering of the family of Blair and Mary Waite, well-known DuBois residents who passed away many years ago but left behind hundreds of off-spring.
Their original family consisted of Harold Waite, Arlie Waite, Burna Hepburn, Ruth Wyant, Iva Frantz, Jim Waite, Connie Waite and Edson Blair Waite Jr. Ed is the only original member still living and now calls Dayton, Ohio, as his home. He and his Australian-born wife, Pam, are world travelers, but he still enjoys regular visits to the cabin he maintains in the woods to the south of DuBois. Following a career of a lifetime with Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, Ed has become widely known around the eastern and central states for scoring antlers for Buckmasters Tropy Records and is now a published author of a series of books, titled “Wallhangers – A Collection of Deer Hunts.”
Mary (Holt) Waite was the daughter of the late Minnie (Grant) Holt and Bob Holt, my dad’s sister and her husband. That qualified my wife and me to receive an invitation to the family reunion at the Oklahoma Fire Hall at the east side of DuBois. One of Blair Waite’s sisters was Mable (Waite) Hicks who was grandmother to our kids – Wendy, Bill and Tim whose birth father was the late Gene Hicks. That gave a double set of reasons to attend the Waite Reunion and it turned out to be a great party on the Sunday just before Memorial Day with many people we hadn’t seen for years.
The very next day, right after the annual Memorial Day Program at Beechwoods Cemetery, we were invited to a sort of reunion, or at least a family party for some branches of Evelyn’s family at the Hormtown Community Center. This is just out the road from the Mowery farm where she grew up and the very building where she went to school for the first eight grades. It is a combination of remnants from the Mowrey, Swab and Dickey families, pretty much all cousins and their children – another good time to renew old friendships and try to determine who is doing what these days. There was no question about the local Mowrey men since we could hear the sound of distant tractors on that really nice day!
Since Evelyn graduated from Reynoldsville High School many years ago, we received an annual invitation to tha school reunion on Aug. 12 this year in the social hall of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Reynoldsville. This reunion has traditionally been organized by the class that graduated 50 years ago. This has now fallen apart since the school had closed with the last ever class of the Reynoldsville-Winslow Bulldogs in 1961. The same was true with the Sykesville-Henderson School Leopards so the districts were consolidated in 1962 to become the Reyn-Sykes Falcons.
In 1965 the schools were realigned again with Reynoldsville, Sykesville and Winslow Township students becoming part of the DuBois School District and Henderson Township students going to Punxsutawney. This year’s reunion was hosted by the “Last Junior Class of Reyn-Sykes High School” but those in attendance were guaranteed that there will be a reunion again next year. A committee of past grads from Reynoldsville has promised to keep the tradition going.
This is not a problem for those of us who have graduated from Brockway since those classes have continued forever and a new group continues to graduate every year. This year’s invitation was mailed out from the school as a part of the Brockway Schools and Community Education Foundation and says, “The Brockway High School Class of 1965 invites you and a guest to the 29th Annual BHS Alumni Banquet on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Classes previous to and including the Class of 2016 are invited to attend.”
The class that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1965 had been invited to attend last year as guests but in name only since they had to pay like everybody else. Those people were congratulated and told they were going to be in charge this year, and were presented with the “key” to the future. The class officers in 1965 were President Gerald Robertson, Vice-President Karla Bolam, Secretary Lana Carlson, and Treasurer Ken King but the people accepting the current reservations are Linda (Benson) Morelli and Sharon (Bish) Dusch.
The Class of 1966 was led by President Emory Keith, Vice-President Fred Crawford, Secretary Marcia Smith (Donlin), and Treasurer Donna Mowrey (Brubaker). Two of them are relatives of my wife and me and I’ve heard by the “grapevine” that the class is getting together somewhere in Beechwoods the night before the school reunion. Maybe they will be drawing straws to figure out who will be doing all the work to arrange for the Alumni Dinner next summer.
The Class of 1956, of which I have always been a part, will be meeting on Sept. 2 but not at the same location as the Class of ’66. We tried that about a half-century ago and discovered that our choices of entertainment weren’t quite the same at that time (remember the old Holiday Inn?) We are planning a quiet dinner at the Royal Inn this year. I was the class treasurer from grade school years and still have that assignment today, so I am collecting reservations. Our other officers were President Donna Mowrey (Ward), Vice-President Joe Baka and Secretary Nancy Murray but others such as Norma (Weilacher) Light have stepped in to fill key rolls.
I’m sure there are many other family gatherings over these summer months, along with other group reunions. I know the Faithful Followers Charge of the Brookville Area Methodist Churches will be holding its service and picnic at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds today. Our Presbyterian Church of Brockway will have its annual outdoor service with communion, followed by a picnic today at the home of our pastor as well.
As usual, I urge each of our readers to participate in such gatherings whenever possible. There is an old saying that advises, “Maintain friendships with family and friends who remember you the way you were when growing up (whether for good or bad).” I say, “Send in your reservation and plan to go whenever you have the chance!”