If I don't get started on this pretty soon I'm going to have to rename it as a winter edition. Since the weather has been so nice for outside work ever since we returned from New London I have stayed pretty busy trying to get things done before the weather runs me inside to read some of the two dozen Zane Grey novels I acquired this summer or perfect my skills at beating the computer at Hearts. Throw in a bunch of high school basketball games (our girls and boys are both going to have great teams this year) plus a few high school wrestling matches and you pretty well know my activities until the grass starts growing again. We have been under an outdoor burn ban until Sept. 15 (so that St. Louis can have better air to breathe while running their cars which haven't passed emission tests) so I have been accumulating much brush this summer in my clearing project on my daughter's property. I have spent most of my time since the reunion getting rid of that and trying to not set the county on fire.
I think that most of you know my philosophy about the reunion business by now - there are no bad ones - some are just better than others. In that context, all of you who didn't make it to Connecticut missed out on some more fun. The 47 shipmates in attendance included 16 new first timers including several whom I sailed with almost forty years ago. Among the newcomers were plankies Clair Brainard, Sam Carolluzzi, Art Claflin and Norman Pichler (all the way from Anchorage, AK). The other new people were Bob Addis, Howard Bell, Bob Cameron, George Farrands, Philip Fernandez (from Hawaii), George Iuli, Paul Marsan, Tom McGee, Paul Moneta, Frank Perrelli, Henry Rempt (1969 exec.), and Robert Veit. Thirteen men maintained their perfect attendance record at all four reunions - Walter Carlson, Adelmo Costantini, Bill Donath, Carl Franke, Eldon Geiger, Lou Grandelis, Mike Hodnichak, Domenick Indelicato, Sam Martin, George Mitchell, Joe Theisen, Duane Trossen and myself. It took six bypasses a month before the reunion to take Don Meals off that list and the need for dialysis by Maxine stopped Mike Beardsley's string. We learned that bypass surgery by Shirley caused Ben Jarisch to cancel out of the trip. There are probably other bad news situations out there like these that we don't know about and, even though we would prefer all good news, we would like to know about the bad stuff as well.
The other attendees were Dick Albrecht, Pat Augeri, Ron Berg, Joe Cuneo, Charles DeRoche, Bill Dirkmaat, Tony Fusco, Nick Huzinec, John Kelly, Charles Melvin, Ernie Parish, Donald Ramsey, Al Ryerson, Walter Schaeffer, Tom Schlundt, George Schnyer, Joe Spinello, and Ed Weslowski.
At the business meeting following the banquet the group voted to get together next time in Orlando, FL on Sep. 26-28, 1997 at the Ramada Resort and elected John Shadgett as reunion chairman. John had sent me details he had worked out with the Ramada which were presented to the crew for consideration. A block of 50 rooms has already been reserved for our group at a cost of $65.00 per night. You will make your own reservations with the Ramada which will allow you to cancel out without any penalty if something should come up to change your plans. The number to call for reservations is 407-351-4600. There will be a catered buffet Friday evening at a cost of $26.00 per person. John will need a partial payment on this so that the caterer can determine how many to prepare for. We will let you know the exact details on this in the spring newsletter. Saturday has been left open for taking in any of the many attractions in the immediate area of your choice. (I have already made up my mind that part of my time will be spent eating sauerbraten and listening to the oompah band over a stein of cold beer at the German pavilion at Epcot.) Disney World, Sea World, Splendid China, Wet and Wild, Universal Studios and a large shopping mall are among the attractions John mentioned that you may choose to take in. Sunday evening is set aside for the group to take in Church Street Station at a cost of approximately $14.35 per person Of course, as it was at Branson, you may want to extend your stay to take in more of the things available. You can add days to your reservations at the same rate if you choose to make an extended trip of it. John has suggested that you may want to bring the grandkids along and treat them to Disney World. That aught to move you up on the "favorite grandparents" list.
In addition to letting you know the exact details well in advance as to what to plan on for next year (a courtesy which VETS, Inc. did not provide for us this year) we discussed some tentative sites for consideration for 1998. On that list so far are Myrtle Beach, Chicago and a repeat of Branson. If anyone has any other ideas please send them along or, better yet, bring them to Orlando.
By the way - I want to apologize to any of you who did not get the information about this reunion. I supplied the VETS people with all 450 or so addresses I had in my database with the understanding that they were going to handle all of the mailings about the reunion details. Shortly before leaving for CT, I started getting phone calls from several people who had not received anything from VETS. At that late date all I could hope for was that any others who were interested in attending would contact either Tony or me for the details. I also told Nancy Miller in CT that your addresses were NOT to be used for anything other than this 1996 reunion (per our constitution). So, if any of you start getting "junk" mail that looks like it might have originated from these people, let me know as I have asked them to purge their database of all addresses.
On Sunday evening some of our crew headed out to make their fortunes at the Foxwood casino. I haven't heard anything about any Indian tribe filing for bankruptcy so I assume nobody broke the bank. Monday morning most of the gang went out for a tour of the USS Groton, an active nuclear sub. I opted to wait for the afternoon trip to the USS Nautilus since I believe I helped make some of the nuclear fuel for that one. The day before the reunion we had met the Geigers and Frankes in Fall River where we did the harbor cruise and toured the Marble House to see how the people from the other side of the tracks lived. We also visited the battleship USS Massachusetts.
On the way out of town following the farewell breakfast we went out to see the Coast Guard Academy as we had been to the other three service academies on previous trips. Then we headed up through NH and back down through VT to see the Fall foliage I have heard so much about. I'm afraid we were about 10 days too early for the peak colors. That side trip was made worthwhile when we found an antique mall in Quechee, VT which had about 30 pieces of depression glass which we needed. Between there and several days spent down in the Kutztown-Adamstown, PA area next we managed to find about 7 of the pieces on our top 10 most wanted list. All that plus the reunion of all my Navy buddies as well as a visit in Hartford with a former fellow employee of Combustion Engineering , whom I had not seen in ten years, made the trip quite successful. I'm already looking forward to putting together a similar trip to Florida where I hope to see at least as many new faces as I have the last two get-togethers.
The current slate of officers was retained for next year (without any mud-slinging commercials to assist in the decision). The group also voted to lower the dues to $10 for the coming year. I will be placing another order for Sitkin caps in the near future. They will cost $5.00 plus $1.00 for postage and mailing envelope. If you're interested in getting one just let me know and I'll see to it that you do. Also, Adelmo has procured some "Always Ready" Great Sitkin pins which are available from him at a cost of $5.00. When he has recouped his out-of-pocket cost for these the balance will go into the treasury of the Association.
In addition to the people previously mentioned who are experiencing difficulties I would ask each of you to remember in your prayers some of our other shipmates. Bill Halacy has been undergoing some major problems with cancer. Lou Grandelis had just completed chemotherapy prior to coming to New London. I was told that Ed Harrison had lost his wife recently.
When I saw the VETS offer of $129 for the banquet and "access to the meeting rooms" I called Tony to get his opinion on sending a mailing to the 85 people who were within driving distance of New London to tell you to come on with or without the payment to VETS. He concurred and even offered to take everyone up to his club in Windsor if they wouldn't let you into our meeting room at the Holiday Inn. I mulled the thought over for several days and finally decided that I had better not attempt it for fear that there were too many things that could go wrong. I just hoped that some of you would drop by on your own and, apparently, Nancy Miller was prepared to let several of the people in who had contacted her so it would have worked out if we had tried. Although the arrangements in Orlando should make similar plans unnecessary, I would ask that any of you within range (and we do have lots of shipmates in that area) to please drop by to visit even if you can't make the whole weekend.
That about wraps it up for this edition. I want to wish each of you a joyous holiday season ahead followed by a warm and safe winter.
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