Monday, March 31, 2008

Changes in St. Petersburg

If you've been away from St. Pete for more than 10 years, here are some things to look for when you come back to the reunion in May:

Do you remember Beach Drive? It was the downtown, very posh and ritzy shopping district near the downtown waterfront? Well, it's changed a lot. Not only new shops but lots and lots of verrrry tall condos.

On 2nd St. NE there is a huge (well, huge for St. Petersburg) shopping mall called "Baywalk". Has outdoor entertainment, a lot of neat shops, and Muvico theatres. (The theatres you remember from your childhood in St. Pete all died, but Baywalk has revived the joys of a downtown theatre.)

The Bayfront Auditorium you may remember has been torn down and is being rebuilt. I believe that the Salvador Dali Museum is going to move into that new building because it needs more exhibition space.

The old Al Lang Field is being made over into a new baseball playing area. (I haven't seen it myself yet. Perhaps one of you St. Pete residents can send us some description of it.)

There's a new St. Petersburg Historical Museum on the approach to the Pier. You can see a replica there of the plane that Tony Jannus flew across Tampa Bay when the first commercial "airline" in the US got its start.

The Jannus Landing block (Central Ave. on the north, 1st Ave. on the south, 2nd St. on the east, and 3rd St. on the west) has all kinds of restaurants, art places--it was the first area in downtown St. Pete to revive from a long period of decline and decay.

What used to be the Maas Brothers department store has been turned into the Florida International Museum (Just across the street from Jannus Landing).

In the old days, there NO large grocery stores in the immediate downtown area. Now a Publix has opened on the site of the former Dew Cadillac building, just south of Central Ave.

If you were a small kid growing up in St. Petersburg, you may remember the trolleycars on Central Avenue. They went away. But now there is a Downtown Trolley, sponsored by the City, that takes visitors and shoppers to various parts of the downtown area. Give it a try while you're in town.

Sunken Gardens, formerly owned by the Turner family, has been sold to the City and redone. It's located on 4th St. N. around 19th or 20th Avenue.

If you drive west on Central Avenue, from downtown St. Petersburg toward the Gulf Beaches, you will see lots of changes in streetscape, shops, landscaping, etc. The area south of Central Avenue has been revitalized for retail, streetscape, etc.. If you go south on 16th Street, from the stadium toward 18th Ave. and 22th Ave., you will see definite improvements.

Fourth Street North, which used to be filled with motels to accommodate the winter tourists, has redesigned itself and created its own merchant association. Motels have been torn down and replaced by other retail buildings or have been renovated for new uses.

St. Petersburg at a Glance

The City of St. Petersburg sent me some sample brochures for use at our reunion. One of them has an overview of St. Petersburg's size and other features.

For those of you who have been away for a lot of years, here's a refresher course in your home town:

Population: 253,902
City Median Age: 39 years (
Is that one a surprise to you?)
Average Household Income: $52,373
Average Temperature: 73.7 degrees
Waterfront: 260 miles of shoreline along Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, Gulf of Mexico and Intracoastal waterways.

Sister City: Takamatsu, Japan
Twin City: St. Petersburg, Russia
Number of Employees: 3,190 full and part-time employees, including 540 sworn police officers and 326 uniformed fire personnel

Parks: 137 city parks on 2,300 acres. These include the 245-acre Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (beside Lake Maggiore on the south side of town); Sunken Gardens (now owned by the city, no longer by a private family); Pinellas Trail (47-mile hiking/biking train connecting St. Petersburg with central and north Pinellas County)

Schools: 152,000 students enrolled at 144 public schools, 72 private schools and 5 vocational/technical schools;

Universities: St. Petersburg College (used to be St. Petersburg Junior College); Eckerd College, University of South Florida, Pinellas Technical Education Center, and Stetson University College of Law.

Professional Sports: Tampa Bay Rays (baseball); Buccaneers (football); Lightning (hockey); Storm (Arena Football)

Tallest Building: Bank of America tower, 28 floors, 330,000 square feet

Assorted Memories and Notes

Did you know that Roger Whitehead set a record for the pole vault at Northeast High that went unbroken for 8 years after he graduated?

Did you know that Roger was ranked third in the state in the pole vault in his senior year?

Were you there the day that Bobby LaBrant came to school in a verrrrry sloppy outfit? Asst. Principal Eric Whitted told him to go home and change into more presentable clothing. Bobby came back, looking handsome in his tuxedo. Mr. Whitted still wasn't satisfied and sent Bobby home again.

Woody (Reed) Tanner remembers the day he wore a white dress shirt with his jeans, but he didn't tuck in the shirt. Well, Mr. Whitted stopped Woody in the hallway and told him to tuck in the shirt. Woody said he would do it later (but he didn't). Mr. Whitted spotted Woody a second time, still with the shirt untucked. The next scene took place in Mr. Whitted's office where Woody had an encounter with the Paddle of Justice.

Woody also recalls Mr. Parks, who taught mechanical drawing. Mr. Parks had a rule (to teach respect for one's equipment) that if your pencil or some other piece of equipment rolled off your desk and onto the floor, you had to stand in the corner. If you committed three such offenses, you had to go to the front of the class, bend over, and receive the Paddle of Justice.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Mr. Parks and Mr. Whitted would probably face lawsuits today for their discipline.

Did you know that Woody (Reed) Tanner was a doctor for 8 years at the Richmond International Speedway, where he met many NASCAR celebrities such as Dale Earnhart (both Sr. and Jr.), Bobby LaBonte, and Jeff Gordon. Woody paid a price, however, for the being around the excitement of the track. Years of the high noise level left their mark on his hearing.

Reunion Update

Woody (Reed) Tanner, his very gracious wife Carolyn, and I got together for a lunch in Williamsburg, VA recently, and I came away with pages of notes--things to tell you about on the blog.

Do you remember the soft drink called "Nehi"? Well, there is a gift shop in Williamsburg that sells NEHI in grape and orange flavors. Carolyn spotted the bottles on a visit to the shop...there is a possibility that as a souvenir of the Reunion, our returning alumni will each get one of those sodas..because the name is also ours: "NEHI".

Bruce Hugill and Buck Merritt will be in charge of a special Memorial segment of our May 15 program at the Coliseum. It will include a PowerPoint presentation, reminding us of our classmates who cannot be with us. One of them, Joyce Crow, passed on to Dave Larson a sum of money left over from an earlier reunion, which will be used for flowers and for the PowerPoint presentation.

Another of our deceased classmates, George Siemers, will be represented by his sister at the Reunion. She has given a statement to be read, in which George described what his high school class meant to him. We will also hear a small portion on CD of a piano concerto George wrote in response to the Chinese students in Peking who resisted the Chinese army and protested for their freedom.

George's sister wants to set up a scholarship at Northeast High, but the school administration has not responded to her.

Welcome Back, Robert Thorpe!

Small World Department: Our president Woody (Reed) Tanner got a phone contact recently from Robert Thorpe, who was a freshman and sophomore with us at Northeast before moving to another state. It seems that Thorpe is a consultant with Home Deport in St. Petersburg and works on the Coliseum account.

When he found out about our May 15 event at the Coliseum, he asked Coliseum management for Woody's contact number. Management notified Woody instead, providing them with Thorpe's contact information. Thorpe told Woody he remembered Jo Ann Terrie from his freshman homeroom class. He made reservations to join us for Reunion Night.

Note: A note from Sue Bagg Foreman indicates that it was Jo Ann who was responsible for finding Robert.

The Five Fowls

Have you heard the story about The Five Fowls? It was a sort-of fraternity formed at Northeast by Roger Whitehead, Woody Reed, Ronnie Murphy, Doug Hotalen and Norm Wagner. A sixth "fowl" was added later: Mickey Moustakas. The mascot was a ruptured duck with his wing in a sling.

There was one day when the "all for one and one for all" theme didn't quite work out. The group agreed that they would shave their heads, dye their heads, and come to school that way the next day. Apparently some of the guys thought better of the idea or got a case of the "chickens", but on the next day, Ronnie Murphy was the only one who showed up with a shaved, dyed head. Ronnie wanted to do serious bodily harm to his "fowl" buddies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Consumer Alert: Alumni Directory

Lyda Graser received some correspondence from a "Pinellas County School District Directory Office" in Chesapeake, VA. The correspondence, signed by a Kelly Hardy, asked her to check with them to make sure that her listing was correct.

This directory--or whatever it is--has nothing to do with the Memory Book I am preparing for distribution at the Reunion. It will list class members, information as current as we have it on addresses and phone numbers, and comments submitted on the bio form we sent out. The book will be in a red loose-leaf notebook cover (I'm hoping to get a Viking decal to put on the cover). Cost for materials is $10 (paper, notebooks, copy costs, etc.)

Look Who's Coming, Part II

Here are more people who have paid reservations for our Reunion Night at the Coliseum, May 15, 2008:

Frank Kapocsi and Pat Smith Kapocsi; Marion Kline Zeiger and Errol Zeiger; Ann Leedy Bartlett and Ben Bartlett; Helen Leigh Wagner and Clint Wagner; Lois Martin Walls and Ray Walls; Shirley McClendon Hutching; Frederick McKenzie; Robert (Buck) Merritt; Margie Meyer Smith and Ed Smith; Barbara Monrose Parrish and Wesley Parrish; Joan Moody Vetter; Arleen Murfin Doney; Ron Murphy and Bobbie Woods; Judy Nicholson; Donna Quick Starr and David Starr; William and Eva Redman; Woody Reed Tanner and Carolyn Tanner; Glenda Joyce; Donna Reed Smith and Charles Ray Smith; Terry Lyn Reichelderfer Stinson and Ed Stinson; Jean Robertson Champ and Jackie Banning; Clarissa Rogers Hamilton and Walter Barnhart; Carol Ann Rupert Buss and Bob Buss; June Sharpe Henry; Evelyn Sheridan Clark; Melody Siplon Jameson; Loretta Smith Franco and Manuel Franco; Walter Smith; Wanda Smith; Helen Smith Manuel and Bill Manuel; Louanne Cecconi; Pat Teague Fulton; Frances Thomas and Larry Thomas; Larry and Windy Thompson; Ronnie Tichenor; Duane Tobey; Robert and Linda Vannatta; Norman Bill Wagner and Carole Simpson; Ben and Joy Wall, Toni Ree, Bob Simpson, Peggy Simpson, Billie Mills, Buddy Whitehead, Diane Whitehead; Charles Welch; Roger and Sarah Whitehead; Bill Argyros, Barbara Argyros, Ronnie Taylor, Beverly Taylor; Jan Wilfong; Jacqueline Wells Dean and Vernon Dean; Barbara Wells Preston; Shirlie Zumwalt Matthews.

Look Who's Coming, Part I

Class president Woody Reed Tanner has sent along a list of the people who have paid for reservations to the Reunion. The current total is 91 classmates, 39 spouses, and 26 guests.

Because the list is long, you'll find it in a couple of installments. (I'm including all these names because I know that you want to know who to look for at the Coliseum).

Ralph and Brenda Ames; John Krege and Trudy Andringa Krege; Karolyn Sue Bagg Foreman and Steve Foreman; John and Margie Bagg (he's Sue's older brother); Judy Philson Baker, Gary and Phoebe Billing; David Britner; Larry Britner; Skip and Betty Cleveland; Janice Comeau Mineo and Jack Mineo; Mike Coughlin and Clarice Slover Coughlin; Rena Counts Wheeler; Connie Counts Plants and Duane "Duke" Plants; Deanne Karner, David Karner; Sandy Creitz Logue; Carol Curran Rushmore and Robert Rushmore; Angela Custode Stephenson and Don Stephenson; Jean Davis Brown; Sarah Emery LaBrant and Bobby LaBrant; Larry and Judith Fannin; Tom Fincher; Aloyce Flood Larson and David Larson; Robert and Rebecca Forman; Ginny Foster; Larry and Bev Foster; Richard and Nancy Fraze; Carley Freck Bryson and Laird Bryson; Patricia Gant Miller and Phyllis Gant Kolbiaz; Gary Goree; Susan Goree Noyes and Frank Noyes; Carolyn Gramling McAleese; Lyda Graser; Judi Groves Hopkins; Shirley Hadsock Lydic and Bill Lydic; Alice Hantz Johnston; John and Martha Hardman; Pat Harmon Karn and Raymond Karn; Judy Hauser Orman and Carol Latta Milner; Betty Hankey Melcher and David Melcher; Martha Lee Heath Baker and Rudy Baker; Dennis and Ginny Hootman; Doug and Jan Hotalen; Judy Huber Grissette and Tim Grissette; Bruce and Roberta Hugill; Kathy Hutchins Hintz.

To be continued.

Looking for Freebies

Special Note to St. Petersburg: If you hometown people know of some merchants who would be willing to donate coupons or promotional items for our "goody bags" at the Reunion, drop me a line at It would be good advertising for the merchant and encourage our out-of-town classmates to patronize the merchant.

Currently, we will have Visitors Handbooks from the Chamber of Commerce and some items from the City of St. Petersburg (I haven't received the sample box yet), so any additional items that you can help us find will be icing on the Reunion cake.

Thanks in advance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nor'easter November 27, 1958--News In Review

Here are highlights from the Nor'easter edition of November 27, 1958, just in case you had forgotten:

The DCT Club took up a project of creating a master landscaping plan for the school. Kenneth Sassaman was chairman of the group drawing up the plans.

College Day on Nov. 14 was successful, when students got to meet representatives from colleges and schools such as Duke University, University of Alabama, Antioch College, Florida State University, Southern Technical Institute, and University of Florida.

Marjorie Myers was shown in a photo on page 3, leading a meeting of Future Homemakers of America. The National Honor Society, headed by Jim Willson, announced plans to tap new members during second semester of the school year.

David Larson and Aloyse Larson were an item in the "Shootin' the Breeze" gossip column. Surprise! Surprise! They were going steady!

In another juicy item, Louis Ateek opened Karolyn Bagg's purse in the hallway, and a banana fell out.

At the Homecoming Dance, queen Sandy Creitz and escort Johnny Barker had a moment of frustration. During the Queen's Dance, balloons were supposed to tumble all over the place. But they didn't. So when the dance was over, Johnny came to the rescue and released the balloons with some human intervention.

Mickey Moustakas was profiled in a sports article, with the headline "Pint-Sized Pigskin Player Makes TDs with Ease; Has Been Active in Sports Since Grammar School." During that current football season, Mickey had racked up 13 points as a halfback. He told the reporter he planned to major in physical education at University of Florida or Florida State.

Reunion Update

Girls Night Out (aka Viking Study Group): So far 12 bold and daring Viking 58 women have RSVP'ed a yes for the "study group" session at Ann Leedy Bartlett's house.

Bowling Details: Would someone who has the specific details for the bowling session please email the date and time to me at so that I can include it in the blog? I know that plans are being made, but I need more specifics. Thanks.

Summit Meeting: Because I'll be making a trip to Virginia to see my daughter and grandkids from March 26 to March 30, I'll be getting together with Woody Reed Tanner and Carolyn for a mini-reunion. If there are any big announcements from our class president, I'll be sure to include them in the blog when I get back March 30. (Well, give me a day to recover from the grandkids.)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Note to Poets: Do NOT Recycle!

Tom Fincher shares a poem and an accompanying story, which has a serious moral for you men who want to charm your women with a few lines of verse.

While in Chicago, he wrote a love poem for a certain woman who was his "significant other". The poem brought him a great deal of "positive reinforcement" from the lady in his life.

At a later point, that relationship moved on and so did Tom. He moved back to Pinellas County and found another "significant other". Remembering the benefits the poem had earned him in an earlier episode of his life, he changed the title of the poem to the name of the woman then his current amour. Things went well, until she discovered the original copy stored away somewhere.

The relationship came to a screeching halt. But the poem is worth sharing.

For The One I Love
Tom Fincher

Your presence stirs a
Feeling I thought gone
From me

Your touch brings to me an
Awareness unrealized
For years

Your being carries me
To a place
Long forgotten

Your embrace
Heals my wounds
Beneath their scars

While loving you
I hold your hand
And feel your soul
Flowing with mine

After our love
The serenity of
Your face
Takes me to a
Place of

Our past lives
And former loves
Matter not

Only us
Only now

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We Have a Friend at City Hall

The City of St. Pete has an absolutely wonderful person in the Marketing Department whose name I want to pass along to you, along with a website address.

First, the website: When you arrive at the home page, click on the Visitors tab at the top of the page and find a menu with topics such as Downtown, Attractions, Events, Beaches, Culture and Arts, Maps, Hotels, Calendar of Events. If you're connected to the Internet, you can take a look at your old home town, no matter where you're living now. The cityscape has changed, what with new construction, reconstruction of older buildings, and new land uses we never thought of.

Now, the wonderful person in the Marketing Department: Kim Tyre; 727-551-3001; email to; fax 727-892-5372.

She is warm and friendly and ready to provide us with brochures and other items for our "good bags" at the Information Center at the Hampton Inn.

If you're looking for information on the City or you need some assistance relating to a Reunion event you're working on, Kim can be a resource.

Susan McGowan-Ackerman: Your Thoughts and Prayers

Our 1958 NEHS class stands with each other when various needs arise. Here's one for your thoughts and prayers: Susan McGowan-Ackerman is about to be a caregiver to her daughter in Seattle who will donate a kidney to Susan's son-in-law. They will each require about six weeks of special care following the surgeries.

We will miss Susan at the reunion, but she has her priorities straight. You can drop her a note of encouragement at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Reunion "Study" Group (No Guys Allowed!)

An email invitation is making the rounds for the "Girls Night Out". Officially, it's called the NEHI '58 Reunion Study Group (wink-wink).

Here are the details and the contact numbers if you're a female Viking and you want to be in on the fun. The "study group" (translate that "party") starts at 6 pm, Wednesday, May 14. Place is Ann Leedy Bartlett's home at 5947 Bayou Grande (in Shore Acres).

For more information you can call 727-527-7050 or 407-342-3242.
You can contribute to the "discussion" by bringing junk food, some sodas, or wine, or other appropriate party food. We will kick our shoes off, laugh and giggle a lot, and spend our time in "girl talk". (You guys wouldn't understand...and you probably wouldn't be interested even if you DID understand. We will not be discussing the NFL or NBA drafts, pitching averages, NASCAR rankings, or the latest tool sale at Home Depot. So you guys can see that you would bored out of your minds if you were there.)

If you're interested in coming, call one of the phone numbers listed above so that a half-way accurate count can be made ahead of time. If you're not sure, but you think there is a chance you can come, call one of the contact numbers and indicate that, too.

Names in the Memory Book

If you see your name listed here, we have a bio form on file for you, to use in preparation of our class Memory Book. If your name isn't listed, there will still be a basic entry for you, consisting of the database information obtained from Sue Bagg-Foreman (name, address, email, etc.)

Thanks to the following who have sent in their bio information: Trudy Andringa-Krege, Sue Bagg-Foreman, Jean Brown-Davis, David Britner, Larry Britner, Linda Crain-Cocks, Sandra Creitz-Logue, Rose Marie Cruz-Martin, Dale Davis, Anne Gloria Dillon-Langan, Tom Fincher, Sue Goree-Noyes, Carolyn Gramling-McAleece, Judi Groves-Hopkins, Ron Hagan, Alice Ruth Hantz-Johnson, Martha Lee Heath-Baker, Bruce Hugill, Kathy Hutchins-Hintz, Mardi Kline-Zeiger, Frank Kapocsi, John Krege, Helen Leigh-Wagner, Bob and Sarah LaBrant, Bruce Little, Fred McKenzie, Joan Moody-Vetter, Judy Nicholson, Virginia Payne-Pauley, Rosa Lee Ramsey-McKnight, Woody Reed-Tanner, Terry Reichelderfer-Stinson, Jean Robertson-Champ, Clarice Rogers-Hamilton, Jean Sheridan-Clark, Pat Smith-Kapocsi, Ed Stinson, Duane Tobey, Charles Welch, and Barbara Wells-Preston.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

People News

Larry Britner came through his surgery successfully at Bay Pines VA Hospital and is now back at home. He sends his thanks for the cards, calls, and visits.

Lois Martin Walls writes that she and husband Ray can only be with us for the May 15 event because their 12-year-old granddaughter is living with them and will be in the midst of final exams. Ray just had cataract surgery so Lois has been doing all the driving.

Barb Wells Preston attended the memorial service for Jim Willson and sends this description of the experience: The services were as I would expect, purely Jim! It was proper, polite, warm, friendly, comforting, and even funny at times. Most of the laughs were from the tales the minister told about Jim and his neighbors and about Linda and Jim taking care of the church's rose gardens. The gardens are in perfect condition under Jim and Linda's tender, loving, hands-on care. They are not in bloom right now but I plan to go over and take pictures when my roses begin to bloom. The rose beds at the church showed healthy bushes with lots of new growth and small buds beginning to form. I believe that Linda will continue to tend the rosebuds. Did they teach rose gardening at North Ward?

Len Scipioni (Scott) writes from Australia that he regrets he can't be with us for the reunion. His daughter is graduating on May 15, and there is no way he and his family can make it to St. Petersburg. But he wants us to know that he is and will be thinking of us.

Mardi Kline Zeiger is in Israel right now, visiting friends and family.

Tom Fincher is polishing up a manuscript for a novel to send off to a publisher, mid-way in another novel, and making notes for two or three more novels. You can still get a copy of his first novel The Pepper Tree Demon, which takes place in St. Petersburg, by dropping him a line and a check for $15. His email is If you want the author's autograph, just ask.

Reunion Reservation Numbers

There's good news to report on the paid reservations for our May reunion. Sue Bagg-Foreman writes that as of March 17, 148 paid reservations are in! This includes 79 classmates, 37 mates, and 20 guests.

says that the 79 classmates total is about 20 more than had been located one year ago.

Hampton Inn had told us that we needed to have at least 8 reservations at their hotel in order to get the Information Room we have told you about. Well, to date (March 15, 2008), the bookings at the Hampton are up to 20.

We know that more reservations will come in between now and May, but the current numbers promise a huge success in something that started as a long-shot but an act of faith by some very hard-working class representatives.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Your List of Things To Do

If you're planning on being a part of a once-in-a-lifetime 50th anniversary in St. Petersburg, here are some details to take care of:

1. Send your reservation with a check for $70 to Woody Reed Tanner. (The complete address is in an earlier posting.)
2. Send your bio to Pat Fulton ( for insertion in the Memory Book. (More details on what to include in the bio are in an earlier posting.)
3. Send photos and scanned images of other items you'd like included in the visual presentation at the Coliseum to Barb Wells Preston. (See an earlier posting for the address.)
4. Send to Pat Fulton an email with these details: date of arrival, date of departure, cell phone number where you can be reached during the reunion days, and if desired, where you'll be staying in the St. Pete area.
5. Do an archaeological dig in those boxes in your attic, garage, storage area, etc. for items you can bring to share in the NEHS display--pompoms, ticket stubs, letter sweaters, helmets, award ribbons, movie posters, anything that will remind us of the good old days.
6. Make a list of landmarks in St. Pete that you'd like to check out one more time--to see how they've changed or if they're still there. (Bad news: Toot n Tellit at Haines Road and 16th St. is long gone. So is the old Municipal Pier as you remembered it, replaced by an "upside down triangle". )
7. Strictly optional: a diet, hair transplants, update of hair styles, new makeup (for women only). If none of these are possible, we don't care. We just want to see you.

Orlando FL has its own mini-reunion

One more group of NEHS 58 grads has met for a mini-reunion--this time in the Orlando, FL area. In the photo sent along by Sue Bagg-Foreman, we see the distinguished charter members: (Left to right) Bill Parke, Celeste Cipriano Northrup, Sue Bagg-Foreman and Buck(y) Merritt.

To make sure that they'd recognize each other when they met at Seasons 52 restaurant, they all wore red. A special dispensation was made for Bucky because he's an Episcopal priest now, with more conservative requirements for his attire. Incidentally, he combined his divinely-ordered responsibilities with a career in insurance/marketing and still has not retired completely from either career.

Celeste sewed some school letters she had received (big Ns) inside her jacket. She reminded the group that she was the roller skating queen of the class, beside her groundbreaking feat of riding to school on a scooter each day during her senior year. From scooter riding she went on to medical school and recently retired from Jackson Memorial in Miami. She and her husband live in Casselberry, north of Orlando, and have a river place on the St. Johns River between Lake Harney and Lake Monroe.

Bill Parke was a member of the NEHS swim team, doing the backstroke and the individual medley for the team that went to state finals. He remembers the bus rides to the meets, but preferred the open-air feel of scooters and cycles. He worked at Publix and launched an entrepreneurial career as a windshield cleaner at a 4th Street gas station. After he left us on Graduation Night, he went on to Penn State, a radio/broadcasting career, and is now in commercial real estate.

And Sue--we don't have to tell you much about her because you already know that she is one of the driving forces behind the Big Reunion. She recently returned from Antarctica (try and top THOSE stories) with a zillion photos to share. By the way, she too was a backstroker for the NEHS swim team. And then there was that little honor of being Miss St. Petersburg.

If You Can't Make It to the Reunion....

Perhaps it won't be possible for some of you to join us in St. Petersburg in May for the reunion, but there is a way you can be with us...

If you send some photos and a message to the rest of us, Barb Wells Preston and Bruce Hugill will make sure that they are part of the PowerPoint presentation that will be a large display at the Coliseum.

For ideas on what to send along, take a look at the posting that appears after this one: The Parade of Memories.

Here are some ideas: photos from past reunions, college graduation pictures, a photo taken when you won an award, military photos, your engagement and/or wedding announcement.

If you can send us a photo and a "hello" message, pass it along (and please do it soon) to Barb at or mail it to Barbara W. Preston, 1226 Barcelona Dr., Mobile, AL 36693-4403.

A Parade of Memories

Here's one more reason that your evening at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg on May 15 this year will be special:

While you are standing at the registration table, waiting to sign in, you can look up and see a large-screen presentation (via PowerPoint for you computer literates) that will bring back memories. Assuming that enough of you send contributions of pictures to Barbara Wells Preston, there will be a lengthy visual parade of places you used to know, classmates as they looked "back then", and even some reminders of your grade school days.

Barb is currently accepting the items you submit, labeling the people in the photos (so we won't have to guess), and then Bruce Hugill will create the PowerPoint production.

Here are some items we're looking for:

Old newspaper clippings, school athletic letters or cheerleading letters, prom favors, helmets, ribbons won, college graduation pictures, pictures for special recognition you received, anything saved from the good old days at NEHS.

Scan and email the photos, clippings, articles, etc. to Barb at Phone contact is at 1-251-661-3756 (home) or 1-251-656-5588 (cell). Mailing address is Barbara W. Preston, 1226 Barcelona Drive, Mobile, AL 36693-4403.

If you plan to bring some items to the reunion (as opposed to scanning and emailing) let Barb know what you're bringing. Items will be shown on display boards with locking plastic ties. They will not be left unattended at any time.

She's looking for old cheerleading or majorette uniforms or maybe any other Northeast "uniform" that might have been part of your life.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Photos of Antarctica

How many people you know have been to Antarctica, that continent of ice down under, and returned with a boatload of photos?

Sue Bagg-Foreman has done just that, and now she's sharing her color photos of Antarctic scenery.

Check in at web.mac/sueforeman. The slide show changes every day.

Latest News on May Reunion

Class president Woody Reedy Tanner reports that to date (March 7) 80 people have confirmed via payment that they will be at the May class reunion.

In case some of you have forgotten who to make the check out to, here are the details:

Up to March 15: a check for $70, made out to NEHI 58 Reunion. Mail it to Woody Reed Tanner, 3325 Sailview Drive, Midlothian, VA 23112. If you have other questions for Woody, you can phone him at 804-639-2443. (Reunion Tickets at the door will cost you $85.)

More news: Because you expressed so much interest in a bus tour of St. Petersburg, Woody has reserved a bus (36 people maximum) for a tour that will start at the Hampton Inn on Beach Drive at 9 am on Thursday, May 15, and end up at 1 pm with a lunch. The itinerary will be specially designed for those of you who haven't been in the old home town in a number of years.

Our reunion Information Room, located in the Hampton Inn, will let you pre-register, receive your official name tag, a gift bag of souvenir goodies, and check in on whether your friends have hit town or not. The Information Room will be open from 2 pm to 5 pm on Wednesday, May 14 and from 2 pm to 5 pm on Thursday, May 15. When you stop by to check in, you can help yourself to coffee, sodas, and pastries.

Girls Night Out, the Pot Luck dinner, and the picnic are all events that a number of you indicated interest in, but the details for these events are being handled by people other than Woody. If you are one of those coordinators, send details to so that we can publicize the events in the blog.

At the May 15 Reunion dinner/dance at the Coliseum, Woody will be the emcee for the program. Bucky Merritt will be in charge of a special memorial recognition for our deceased classmates.

Woody says about six people have signed up for a golf outing on Friday, May 16. Larry Britner is in charge of details for a breakfast on Sunday, May 18.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Making Connections

Are you coming to the reunion in May in St. Petersburg?
Would you like other classmates to be able to "find" you?

Here's an offer:

Carolyn Gramling McAleece and I will be staffing an "Information Room" at the Hampton Inn Hotel on Beach Drive. We can picture that some of you will stop by the room to check in and to find out if particular classmates are coming, and if so, when will they get into town and where will they be staying.

If you would like to make this information available, so that we can pass it along, send the following to me at

Your name
Where you will be staying in St. Pete (hotel, friend's house, with relatives, etc.)...You do not have to include the address if you wish to have privacy.

Your cell phone number (if you have one and if you will be bringing it to the reunion)

The date you will arrive in town and the date you will leave.

Again, this is all voluntary information. We will compile a master list of these details and keep it available at the Information Center.

We also hope to have some Chamber of Commerce brochures on sights to see in case you want to make some side trips.

Nothing "Senior" Here!

Joan (Moody) Vetter and husband Ted do not fit the stereotype of retired people in rocking chairs. Joan sent this photo of the couple at a church sock hop. Note the Viking emblem on Joan's sweater and the motorcycle behind them. They fit right in with the rest of our 1958 class, just loaded with people who are active, involved, and "where it's happening" (to use a well-worked phrase).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Bargain at $10

Someone asked me the other day how much I paid for my 1958 Viking Log. I couldn't remember.

Well, the Oct. 11, 1957 edition of the Nor'easter has the answer: $10. An article in that issue mentions a $10 package fee for seniors. The fee covered rental of cap and gown, the tassel, a diploma cover, a Viking Log and class dues. Imagine what that would cost us today?

Also in the Oct. 11 edition: The annual Homecoming celebration would be on Nov. 1, with a football game played against Tampa's Chamberlain High School. A parade of cars and floats would feature the Homecoming Queen and eight attendants. Here are some of the people heading up various committees for Homecoming: Martha Heath, prizes; Kathy Hutchins, dance; Sharon Thompson, general chair; Jan Duggar, general co-chair; Ralph Buxton, parade; Judy Williams, election of queen; and Trudy Andringa, coronation.

Students who had received "bids" to join a service club attended a evening session for "Get To Know Your Clubs". Among those representing the various clubs were Ann Leedy, Rojans; Ralph Spaulding, Junior Exchange; Ann Taylor, Anchor Club; Ralph Buxton, Key Club; Carol Rupert, Civinettes; and Trudy Andringa, Keyettes.

Another article in that newspaper issue profiled the Northeast majorettes. The seniors in the group were Rose Cruz and Carol Rupert.

In October of 1957, we were sharing quarters with students from Meadowlawn Middle School while they waited for the construction of their new school to be completed. Several students from Northeast were asked their opinion of this arrangement. Their responses were priceless.
Bob Vannatta: Lovely. Jan Wilfong: I like the short periods because you have more time to do your homework and still have time for fun. Mike Reed: I love it!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Three Views of Cuba

When I was in Mrs. Shrum's Spanish classes at Northeast (I think I had her for Spanish I and II), one of the annual events was a field trip (usually during the spring) to Cuba. My family was never able to afford the ticket, but I remember hearing the students and Mrs. Shrum talk about the fun they had visiting Havana, Veradero Beach, a cigar factory, and other places on the island.

We all graduated in 1958; in 1959 the trips came to an eternal end because Fidel Castro (at first viewed as a "savior" from the harsh rule of Fulgencio Batista) came into power and complete control of Cuba. It was no longer a "friendly" place for American students to visit on a holiday.

Fast-forward to the 1970s, when I was living in the Panama Canal Zone, married to a Canal Zone policeman. Through Panamanian friends of ours, we became aware that Cuba had special agents working in Panama, influencing the school system, the formation of agricultural co-ops for the farmers, and the interrogation and torture of people who opposed Gen. Omar Torrijos' dictatorship. The Cubans worked closely with Manuel Noriega, then in charge of what was known as "the G-2", the secret police.

Although I can speak Spanish, I do not have the ability to detect one country's Spanish accent from another. But our Panamanian friends knew a Cuban accent when they heard it. And some who underwent torture at the hands of the G-2 recognized Cuban voices in the room.

Fast-forward to 2001 and onward: I now live in Miami, FL, where Fidel Castro is a well-known but unseen presence among those in the community. A warning to "Anglos" (non-Hispanic): If you come to Miami, and you hear a discussion about Cuba and Castro, do more listening than talking. The subject of Cuba is a very touchy, highly electric topic for the Cubans here--who are capable of taking all sorts of points-of-views. (The older generation probably thinks about returning to Cuba if Castro dies. Second generation Cubans may see Cuba as a place to visit, but no longer a place to make a home and pursue a career. The tricky part is, when you are in a group of Cubans, you never know just what their views are, and if you as an Anglo are outspoken in what they think is the WRONG direction, you could get yourself in a lot of trouble.)

Cubans here keep in touch with their friends and relatives in Cuba through phone calls, people who visit and bring news, etc. When there was a rumor that Castro had died (unfortunately, untrue) people went out into Calle Ocho (8th St.) and began banging pots and pans in celebration. More recently, when Raul Castro took over power because Fidel said "I want to step down", the Cubans have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

The Manuel Noriega who terrorized Panama while I was there is sitting in a jail here in Miami, trying to avoid extradition to France for trial on other charges, once his prison sentence here is finished.

I first became aware of Cuba through my Northeast High Spanish classes. Now I live in a place where Cuba is an intricate part of the culture and conversation and community awareness.

I have included these comments on Cuba (and they're just my own observations and opinions) because US newspapers don't give much coverage to Latin America unless there is a government overthrow, a volcano eruption, a bloodbath in the streets, or the death of a leader. I realized when I moved to Panama that many Americans viewed Spanish-speakers as those who wear serapes, sombreros, and eat tacos all day. There is so much more to Latin America than that.

James Willson, 1940-2008

Jim Willson has died March 2 after a battle with cancer. Here are the details of the obituary, sent in by his wife Linda Matthews Willson.

Jim was born in St. Petersburg, graduated with honors from Northeast High School, and earned a B.S. degree in business from Florida State University in 1962. He was a Founder member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, president of Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, and a member of Phi Theta Kappa honorary society.

In 1963 he graduated from FSU with an MBA degree and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma national honorary society.

He had a long career in retailing, including Bonwit Teller in New York City; divisional merchandise manager at Ivey's in Charlotte, NC, and at Yeilding in Birmingham, AL. After retirement, he moved to Fairhope, AL, where he was an active member of St. James Episcopal Church, the Nix Center and an avid bridge player and traveler.

He is survived by his wife Linda M. Willson of Fairhope; a son, Marine Lt. Col. Brent S. Willson and wife Radka, Newport, RI; a daughter, Laura Schweitzer and husband Dane; granddaughter Olivia Schweitzer and grandson Ian Schweitzer, all of Folsom, CA; and a sister Jane Lee Bullock and family, of Columbus, GA.

A memorial service will be held at St. James Episcopal Church March 8 at 8 am.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I knew Jim (he was "Jimmy" then) since kindergarten at North Ward Elementary, and I believe we both attended Sunday school at First Methodist Church. He always had a head of thick black curls and a big smile. He was always one of the better students in our class, very polite, very conscientious.

His father was CEO of the old Willson-Chase Department Store on Central Ave and 5th St. His mother was a very warm and gracious lady who was the room mother for a number of our classes at North Ward. At one point, the Willsons lived in that beautiful stone house at the corner of 9th St. N. and 38th Ave.

His wife Linda was also one of my North Ward classmates from the very beginning--kindergarten through 6th grade, although she went to St. Pete High while Jim went to Northeast.