Sunday, May 18, 2008


Part of the program at the Coliseum on May 15 was a memorial, created by Bruce Hugill, to honor those in our class who have died. There were recitations of poetry, something from Kahlil Gibran, and some Scripture verses. And then we watched as photos of each of those remembered appeared on the large screen.

A sad note was that seven more names had just been added to our already adequate list; these names were the product of the ongoing research to find the "missing". Unfortunately these seven left us before we had the chance to say good-bye.

In their memory, a scholarship fund is being endowed at St. Petersburg College, specifically targeted annually at a Northeast High student who wants to go to college but who lacks the finances. A sum of $5000 is required to start the fund in our Class of 1958 name and then as we increase the endowment to $10,000 or so, there will be enough to present an annual scholarship. For more details, contact Sue Bagg-Foreman.

For your information, the scholarship fund got its first burst of life through items donated for a raffle at the Coliseum. Mardi Kline Zeiger brought back from Israel two stunning pieces of Armenian design ceramics and Rosie Ramsey McKnight donated a CD of her singing group's music, all for the scholarship raffle.

Blasts From the Past

Barbara Wells Preston created an amazing display of photos, clippings, T-shirts, and other assorted items from our school days. She set up the items first in the Information Center at the Hampton Inn and then transferred the display to the Coliseum for our Big Night May 15.

As a personal note, my two grandsons who stopped by to see me at the Hampton were stunned by the full-page article on Elvis Presley's visit to the Florida Theatre back in our days. They stared at the large photos, perhaps not realizing that their Nana had heard of Elvis Presley. So I played historian and explained the background of the "King's" visit. For a first-hand view, you would have to ask Barb because she was a Florida Theatre employee (who had her own conversations with Elvis--just ask her.) Apparently, the event was a mob scene, made up of countless screaming teen-aged females who wanted to get as close to their idol as possible.

The photo scrapbooks that Barb assembled (complete with name IDs) took a lot of us back in time and gave us a refresher course in our high school biography.

Marriages That Lasted

Do you remember some of the pop songs from our era that told us that "puppy love" would never last, that teen romances were only temporary?

Well, our 1958 graduating class has evidence that blows that sentiment all to pieces. At our reunion there were living examples of couples who met each other in high school, said their "I do's" after graduation and are still married to their "first husband" or "first wife".

Bobby LaBrant met Sara Emery at Northeast and took her on a blind date with Bob Vannatta. This couple has not only stayed married but they have worked together in various business interests all their lives. And they STILL love each other. It's not hard to tell.

Dave Larson met Aloyse Flood at Northeast and they were an "item" from that moment on. Dave always has high compliments (and book dedications) to Aloyse when he writes another volume in his family biography. She has that bright-eyed, sparkling look in her eyes that she always had and when you see Dave, you see Aloyse. Those two are "keepers".

John Krege met Trudy Andringa at Northeast; that led to a wedding while they were in college. It should be against the law how good they look these days. They do a lot of traveling (which you know that you don't do with people you don't like.)

Mike Coughlin (who always had a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he walked around the campus) met Clarice Slover at Northeast. Clarice was tall and slender (still is) with dignity and grace (still applies) and she said yes to Mike's proposal. Those two are still an attractive couple, enjoying each other's company.

Carly Freck, one of our active-in-everything classmates, was attracted to someone in the graduating class just ahead of ours. She married Laird Bryson and has been his partner as he has practiced medicine and then switched over into a vocation in the clergy. Now they tour the USA in an RV, so you know they must enjoy each other's company. And they both look great.

Frank Kapocsi met Pat Smith at Northeast, married her, and shared his life with her as a Publix executive. They live in Lakeland now, enjoying their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. They both looked younger than ever (it should be against the law) and were a living example of "marriages that work".

Ed Stinson met Terry Reichelderfer at Northeast. (Note: I am so proud that I can spell her maiden name correctly because I first learned how when we were students at North Ward Elementary.) They are another couple who experienced that "young love", decided to make it a permanent thing, and stayed in love all this time. They're enjoying the "country quiet" of Dunnellon after living in Pinellas County for a lot of years. (Ed was employed by the Clearwater Fire Department.)

WOW! What a Reunion!

The Big Event we've planning for for many months finally happened---and it was indescribably delicious!

For those of you who couldn't be there, I wish you could have seen the countless "buzz groups" of classmates--sometimes in twos, or in threes, or fours---drawn to each other like magnets. The Information Center (a hospitality suite in the Hampton Suite) was one place that the reconnecting started. Another was the "Girls Night Out" at Ann Leedy's house and the Guys Night Out at a local sports bar.

We wore name tags that had our class pictures on them...and there were many times we needed those tags because as we looked face-to-face at someone else, our brain was saying, "WHO is this?" while our mouth was stalling for time. The photo on the other person's tag led us to say "OHHHH...You're...[fill in the blank]!!!" And off the conversation would go.

The Wednesday morning (May 14) picnic at Sawgrass Lake Park brought people together...and then people starting trickling (and then flooding) into the Info Room after the picnic. If you saw Roger Whitehead, you could probably count on seeing Ron Murphy, Bobby LaBrant and Woody (Reed) Tanner somewhere close by.

Carolyn Tanner, Woody's jewel of a wife, is my nominee for Saint of the Year. She worked countless hours long before the reunion ever started and then worked more countless hours in making sure that all the details--gift bags, table arrangements, printed materials, name tags, etc.---came together in the right place at the right time. We could not have had the reunion without her, even though she kept a low profile and worked "behind the scenes". (If you get the chance, and you were at the reunion, send her a quick email THANKS, won't you?)

We missed those of you who couldn't come, but you were not forgotten. Campus stories that are 50 or more years old were retold and laughed about, and friendships were revived from long ago.

Watch for news about an annual gathering on the first Saturday in November in St. Petersburg. And if some of you create local groups in your state/region/etc. , send me a note so I can promote your meetings in the blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Take a Look at Our Newspaper

One of the memorabilia items you're going to see at the Reunion is my old volume of Noreasters (the school newspaper) for the 1957-1958 school year. Barb Wells Preston has offered to make special page markers so that you can turn to the pages easily (the 50-year-old paper is a bit crackly).

Here are some of the items I've marked for you to take a look at... (The dates are all from 1957 and 1958.)

Cheerleaders (Sept. 27); Sandra Creitz, the Homecoming Queen (Oct. 25); the Viking Log (yearbook) staff, (Oct. 25); the Viking Football Team (Oct. 25); Mickey Moustakas profile (Nov. 27); Christmas Concert (school choral group) (Dec. 19); my interview with Miss America, Marilyn Van Derbur (Dec. 19); Northeast Hosts and Hostesses (Dec. 19); Jim Willson profile (president of National Honor Society) (Jan. 31); Dave and Aloyse , the King and Queen of Hearts (Feb. 14); Roger Whitehead profile (Feb. 14); our principal John Sexton (Feb. 28); Duane Tobey (head of the Viking Band) (Feb. 18); Senior Superlatives (March 14); Bob Vannatta profile (March 14); and the Northeast Baseball Team (April 24).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Big Red (Viking) Purse

Karolyn Sue Bagg-Foreman, the endless fountain of ideas that she is, has added a very attractive detail to our quest for scholarship funds. The purse you see pictured here is her contribution to the raffle items for the May 15 gala at the Coliseum. The purse's first purpose is to hold checks and cash contributions that our classmates pitch in toward the $5000 goal of endowing a scholarship account (with our name on it) at St. Petersburg College.

Three more of us---John and Trudy Krege and Duane Tobey--have sent donations to the scholarship fund. You too can put your donation in the Big Red Purse if you're at the Coliseum on May 15. But that's not all, folks. The purse, emptied of the contributions, will go on the raffle items listing, along with art items and a CD of Rosie Ramsey's music.

Even if you can't be at the Reunion, you can still be part of this classwide project--creating a fund to help a worthy student get an education at SPC. Make the check to "SPC Foundation". On the memo line, write "For Northeast High". Mail the check to Sue Foreman, 1940 Summerland Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Last Minute Notes

May 10--

We're at the weekend before we all leave to arrive in St. Petersburg for the reunion...and here are some assorted pieces of information I hope you'll find useful...

1. The Information Room, set up in the Hampton Inn & Suites on Beach Drive, will be at your service...with St. Pete brochures, sign-in forms for the Reunion, memorabilia display set up by Barb Wells Preston. The room will be open from 2 pm to 5 or 6 pm on Wednesday, May 14, and from 2 pm to 5 pm on Thursday, May 15.
2. Memory Books will be available for purchase at $10 per book. For those of you who are reading this but who won't be able to attend the reunion, a copy of the book can be sent to you for $15, which includes cost of the book and cost of shipping and mailing. Send a check made out to Patricia Fulton to 8814 SW 72nd St. G139, Miami, FL 33173.
3. Tom Fincher's published novel The Pepper Tree Demon will also be available for sale in the Info Room. It's a wild and crazy suspense novel, set in St. Pete but including scenes at a Brooksville drag racing track, US 19, Pinellas Park, and Weekiwachee. Cost of the book is $15, but Tom has said he will make a donation from each sale to our Class of 1958 scholarship fund.

Do You Remember the Prom Theme?

Barb Wells Preston just called me and one of her questions was, "Do you remember what the theme was for our Senior Prom?" I have no clue (although I know that the prom that our class created as juniors had an Egyptian theme).

My old copies of the Noreaster tell me that the prom was on May 23, 1958, but I don't have the newspaper issues that include a story about the prom.

Sooo...if any of you remember this piece of trivia--what was the theme of our senior prom...get in touch with Barb at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

One Week To Go

One week from today some of us will start arriving in St. Petersburg for the Big Reunion we've been talking and writing about for many months.

For many of us, the reunion has already started, as people have connected through emails, phone calls, and personal visits. Larry Britner's round-robin emails and this blogsite have kept you posted with new developments, shared memories, shared photos, and new discoveries of formerly "lost" classmates. We have also shared news of classmates who were added to the "In Memoriam" list.

As the clock ticks down toward our seeing each other at the Coliseum (and other places) in St. Pete, there's a reality that some of us are dealing with because we are people who are 50 years beyond high school. Good health is a gift, something to say thanks for. Some of us will not be able to attend because of health issues; keep those people in your thoughts and prayers and if good health is one of your gifts right now, say a "thank you" prayer for it.

Our Viking Legacy

A number of months ago, in the email chit-chat among us, the topic came up of making some sort of financial gift to Northeast. Mardi Kline Zeiger offered to purchase some art items during her visit to Israel and to donate them for a raffle, with the proceeds going toward a class contribution to a worthy cause (such as our alma mater). She has made those purchases.

Well, Sue Karolyn Bagg did some research with the St. Petersburg College Foundation on what it takes to set up a scholarship fund. According to their rules, it takes $5000 for the fund to have our name on it. (Anything less than that goes into the general fund.) What is being discussed in emails now is a scholarship for a worthy student at Northeast who can't afford to fund an education at SPC (formerly St. Petersburg Junior College). There are 71 at Northeast now who fit this description.

Sue broke down the $5000 this way: 1 person donates $1000. 4 people donate $500 each. 20 people donate $100. Checks for $25 and $50 are also welcome. When the total endowment (with our name on it) reaches $12,500, that would produce $1000 a year for scholarship(s). Raising $50,000 means we could fund two scholarships a year.

Already David Britner and Carley Freck Bryson have sent in checks to Sue to get the project rolling. If you would like to follow their admirable example, make out a check to "SPC Foundation" with the notation "For Northeast High" and send it to Sue Foreman, 1940 Summerland Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Hampton Inn: Some Details

If you're staying at the Hampton Inn (Beach Drive) during the NEHS reunion, here are a few details that Carolyn Graming McAleese and I picked up in a recent phone call to the hotel:

1. The rooms have refrigerators (we're assuming this is true of most of the rooms) so if you want to purchase snacks and beverages that need to stay cold, you're in business.

2. The hotel does not accept personal checks. Most people pay by credit cards anyway, but in case you were planning on using your checkbook, you will need a bank-authorized cashier's check.

3. There is a continental breakfast available each morning: eggs, pastries, cereal, milk, coffee, etc.

4. This item is probably a "DUH" item that you already knew, but the hotel has a swimming pool in case you want to swim or work on your tan.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Girls Night Out: Parking Spaces

For those of you planning to attend "Girls Night Out" around 6 pm on Wednesday, May 14 at Ann Leedy's home (5947 Bayou Grande Blvd NE), here are the parking arrangements:

Because parking is limited at Ann's home, we have permission to park in the lot of Shore Acres Elementary School (1800 62nd Ave NE). The parking lot is at the corner of 62nd Ave.NE and Tanglewood Dr.

Ann's husband Ben will run a shuttle from the parking lot to the house and back. (Our hero!)

Ann says that if you have any questions, you can call her at 727-527-7050.

PS: For those of you who are coming from out-of-town, here is a refresher on the directions to Ann's home (and the Shore Acres Elementary property): From the downtown St. Pete area, go north on 4th St. N to 62nd Ave. Make a right turn and continue until you see the elementary school on your right. Pull into the parking lot and wait for Ben's shuttle.