GRANITE CITY — Lascelles at 1324 Niedringhaus provided an elegant atmosphere for the Granite City High School Class of 1953 reunion.
The planning committee rented out the entire restaurant for the party. With Frank Sinatra and big band music playing in the background, the octogenarians were an excited and enthusiastic bunch of schoolkids gathered for a good time. Laughter and chatter filled the room and everyone was so happy to be reunited for a day of fun. Marilyn Champion Lunsford, Butch Bicanic, Carolyn Williams Belling, Bob Butler, Nadine Ryan and Ed Bodnam were the key people in charge of planning the affair.
Planners sent 103 invitations for the celebration and 63 attended the reunion. Three people traveled the farthest for the fête: Lorene Glasgow Gaippo resides in Raleigh, N.C., Bob Lawson lives in Villa Grove, Ill., and Wanda Myers Bilna calls Buena Park, Calif., home these days. Most of the classmates reside in the area. Back in the day, Bob Lawson and Harold Walker lived a block apart and were best friends.
“Thanks to Facebook, we keep up with each other often,” Walker said.
One special guest, Dean Helen Kuenstler, has not missed one of the reunions since the first one, the 10-year reunion in 1963.
“This was one of my first classes,” Kuenstler said. “I continued working in the Granite City school system until I retired in 1983.” Many classes remember her fondly, but Marilyn Champion Lunsford said teasingly: “We have always been her favorite class.”
Harold Dix and his twin sister, Harriet Dix Evans, said they enjoyed the party and catching up with out-of-town classmates.
“We have always been a tight-knit class and have remained close through the years,” Harriet said.
Participants said they were proud of the fact that the class has remained this close and stayed in touch since graduation.
“30 of us meet monthly for lunch and laughs,” Lunsford said. “We love to see each other and spend time together.”
The smiles, hugs and joy at the party made it evident that the classmates share a strong bond of friendship.
Every year Carolyn Williams Belling writes an original poem for the class. This year’s ode:
We’re either there or pushing 80
How can that be?
It’s been a long journey
We’ve had laughs and tears
Through all these years we’ve survived
So, let’s drink to the future
With sunshine and rain
But can you possibly refrain from going down memory lane!
51 of the 63 were celebrating their 80th birthday this year and the planning committee included that in their schedule of events. For dessert a birthday cake with 80 lit candles was paraded around the restaurant and the planning committee blew out the candles while everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to each other. Nobody disclosed their wishes after the candles were blown out, but perhaps it’s to share another class reunion together in the future.