I have written this two and a half times. The first time, I hit the wrong key and lost everything. The second time, I didn’t like what I had written. It was too much about me, so I changed it. It’s probably still too much about me, but it’s better.
It was a great three days. We combined time with family and reminiscing with old friends. Gus and Billy drove from Los Angeles and Ontario, Bobby Brost flew from Rapid City, Cousin Valerie and her husband, Ken drove twelve hours from San Juan Batista, CA, and I flew in from Dallas. We all came to attend the Mesa, AZ, Jones County Reunion.
Thursday, we saw people I hadn’t seen in years and got to meet some of their spouses. When I flew back to Dallas on Friday, I was still thinking of questions I wished I had asked.
Ken took this picture of Valerie and me having breakfast with Gus, Billy and Bobby Brost.
On Friday morning I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep. I knew it was going to be a long travel day for me, so I decided to get up and color my roots before I started to pack my bags and get ready to fly home. I was glad I’d thought to bring the coloring kit with me. I knew if I didn’t do something soon, I would look like Whistler’s Mother. I have always wondered why her hair was brown in front, and grey in the back. Maybe it’s symbolic of how we see ourselves. We shouldn’t get caught up in our years. Whistler’s Mother still sees herself as youthful, but she knows there is grey hair growing under her bonnet.
I love reunions, because people come to celebrate the happy memories of growing up. There are bad times too, of course, but people don’t normally air out their grievances at a reunion. It’s fun to talk to people and share memories as well as learn about what’s happening now.
The Jones County get together in Mesa is attended by people of all ages who lived in Jones County at some time in their lives. My brother, Billy, graduated from Murdo High School in 1962, and many of his high school buddies who winter in Arizona attend every year. The snowbirds from Jones County appear to be growing in number. I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I didn’t want to be intrusive. I asked if I could tag along with Billy, so I thought I should keep a low profile. It must have felt like old times to him.
My how Billy and I have changed.
Below are Patti Dykstra Arnieri and Tom Ingalls…The guys on the right are Bob Brost, Billy Francis, Chris Anderson, and Dwight McCurdy.
Below on the left, is Maysel Penticoff. It was fun visiting with Maysel. She knows a lot about Murdo and the families who lived there way back when… On the right we have Frank Brost, the newest inductee into the South Dakota Basketball Hall of Fame, and Maury Haugland, who was the Superintendent of Schools in Murdo from, I’m not sure when, through the 1968-69 school year.
Below, on the left, is Karen Haugland Poppe. Karen and Maury’s mother, Doris, and Bill’s mom and mine, Loretta Gustafson, were close friends. (Help me Mrs. Peters…I’m getting into the weeds trying to use the proper grammar and correct punctuation.) Chris Anderson is to the right next to Donny Hullinger. The lady in blue standing by the table is Bonnie and Art Fedderson’s daughter, Rosetta. Seated, wearing yellow, is Gus Gustafson. He belongs to Billy and me. The man next to him is Gary Volmer and the woman pointing her finger is Larry’s wife, Sharon. She is from Presho. The woman in yellow is Marcia Horsely. Belva Anderson, Chris Anderson’s wife, is standing beside her. Please help me identify those I haven’t named.
My brother, Billy has a group of friends that have remained close through the years. I have always admired these former classmates and teammates for that reason. They are their own band of brothers and it’s very apparent when they’re together, they value the friendships they have nourished. Girls are allowed and so are the spouses.
I think the picture below is really neat. I recognize all but one or two of this exceptional basketball team.
I don’t remember much about their football team. Were they good?
I’m sure there are other high schools where the older girls taught the boys how to dance, while the record players, stacked with forty-fives played songs like, Sincerely, Sugar in the morning, and Why do fools fall in love. ( At the moment, I can’t think of the songs they did the jitterbug and the twist to.)
I listened to discussions about Murdo McKenzie, fishing, hunting, South Dakota politics, old times, Dutch Dyrick, and the stories about how life was simpler, parents didn’t worry so much, and kids had more freedom.
Mick Penticoff said when he was sixteen and had just gotten his driver’s license, he and Billy drove to Grandpa Sanderson’s Nemo cabin and spent the week-end fishing all by themselves.
As I listened to them talk about high school, it sounded to me like they were all a bunch of brainiacs whose teachers tried get them to stay between the lines until they matured enough to make good decisions. I believe the girls were also mostly brainiacs…and probably had more common sense.
Murdo, SD…Back in the day
Everyone talked about the things they did after graduation. Some joined the service, others went to college, and some eventually did both or took another path. It was fun to hear about how they made a living, and the places they had lived.
Let’s see what did those guys talk about? Have you heard the one about the woman who got thrown in jail? Oh wait! I can’t tell that one. So have you heard about the guy whose Grandpa decided he knew why his grandson didn’t have any girlfriends… No? I can’t tell that one either. I can’t tell any of these true stories and I don’t recall what each one said when Billy asked them where they were when they heard the news about President Kennedy being assassinated.
Bobby Brost told me a story I can tell. It was about a day Mom invited him to stay for noon dinner at our house. Mom told Billy to go and get me. He came back without me and when Mom asked where I was, he said,”She’ll be here in a minute. She’s sorting her socks. She is putting the left one in one drawer and the right one in another drawer.”
What’s wrong with that?
Don’t worry…no one can see me.
I’m hiding behind a potted plant at the airport.
I have to add one more thing about me.
Before we got to the reunion, I told Billy I really hoped I got to see Maury Haugland. Well, I did see him and I must have been a little flustered because for a second I thought he was someone who doesn’t even live in Arizona, and not only that, I haven’t seen him in forty plus years. I feel bad about that, so if you see Mr. Haugland, please tell him I was glad I got to visit with him for a minute. I’m the girl in the photo of the girl’s basketball team with the number one on her jersey. I’m standing next to coach Haugland. That’s not number one as in really good, so don’t tell him I was the girl who was number one on the girl’s basketball team. Tell him I’m the one he used to blow his whistle at and say, “What are you going to do with the ball over there? Peel it and eat it?”
(I guess since I’m sixty-six, I can probably call him, Maury.)
I want to thank my brother, Billy, for letting me come with him. It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my brother, and with Gus, cousin Val, and Ken there, too, it was also a fun family time.
You sure do have great friends, Billy, and I like all of the spouses a lot too.