Smithfield reunion remembrances

I get a little nervous when I’m responsible for getting people informed about an upcoming anniversary and then seeing that they arrive at the dinner and are seated at the proper tables.

This was my fate when I sent out letters reminding those who graduated with me and Lamont from Smithfield High School that 60 years had passed since we threw our mortar boards into the air and shouted with glee over being freed from classes and school buses.

Actually, I don’t think any of us tossed our hats. We were too afraid that Octa Foster, principal and teacher of many subjects that made you really study to get your grades, still had influence on us, and we might end up in detention for the summer.

Getting out the list I had used for our 50th class reunion, I sadly marked out those who had died during those 10 years and went from there. The names were reduced from the 54 who graduated in 1954 to the high 30s, and three or four I did not have any idea of their location.

I sent out the letters with a hope and a prayer and only one came back, that of Chester Pasco, better known as Ted to us in our high school years. But he had a friend in Kathy Kovarik Summy who told him about the big 60th shindig. So, he got in touch with us to say he wanted to see the gang from Smithfield, Bradley, Piney Fork and Rayland again.

Most knew the others upon sight – there was no big change in facial structures, maybe a little in height or weight. Joe Rudik almost had some of us ladies beat in the amount of hair. Lamont and Larry McCoy still looked the same, and some people still couldn’t tell them apart.

Don Rensi, Bob Alloggia and Ted all came with sport jackets or wearing suits. Isaac Boyd, who had to leave too early for the picture, brought his senior Spartan football picture where he was executing a kick that would rival any ballet dancer – didn’t think he could do it again though. Dave Johnson was still the tallest dude in the bunch.

Now for the ladies. Three of us were wearing lilac: Joanne Plebanni Yanok, my friend since first grade, had on a lovely lavender suit; Eileen Alloggia, Bob’s wife, was wearing a sparkly lavender jacket; and I had on a lavender top that my granddaughter, Amber, chose for me in Columbus, along with a lavender and purple necklace that I would not have purchased unless she insisted. I’m not into buying jewelry.

Joan McGill was wearing a red silk jacket trimmed in gold thread with a mandarin collar. Irene Sabo had on the black and white colors of the season, and Inez Merriman favored beige and couldn’t let her purse out of sight for a second, even to take the group picture.

And we all thank Butch Garcia for being our photographer. With just a few detrimental words to me, he managed to take four pictures that were all perfect. I will never hear the end of his photography prowess when I see him in church now.

Inez was always the singer in our group, and when John Domenick needed someone with musical ability to help get us, those with less than ideal voices, we suggested our singing diva and she did quite nicely.

Evelyn Paris Milicia was planning to attend but had to cancel and was missed.

I heard from Terry Taylor, who sent me the class prophesy that was written more than 60 years ago, and some parts were hilarious. I think that Shirley Omaits Stewart, who sent regrets but that she was thinking of us, had a hand in the writing, as it looked like her printing on the top of the page.

Kathy Kovarik Summy could not attend because of a continued illness but was there in spirit. Charles Smith sent a long, newsy letter to let us know what had been going on in his life the past 60 years.

All in all everything went well. We all acted dignified to go along with our age, but there was still the bit of mischief underneath it all. The guys talked about their tussles with the boys of Dilllonvale, who felt the Smithies were coming to town to steal their girls and promptly chased them out and that sort of important stuff.

There was talk of Mrs. Foster’s Latin and journalism classes. I know she taught me the meaning of saying something short and to the point in my column. She would cross out many words and even paragraphs with a very black pen, and I would walk back to my desk wondering what I was going to do to fill those spaces.

Of course, sports came up frequently. It was told that Ike Boyd went to kick the football and ended up on his backside with the football still in place – the thrill of victory in some games and the agony of defeat in others. But it made them learn that you don’t always win in life.

I have talked too much about our class, I am sure, but it was like going back home again seeing the ones who could attend- hugging them goodbye and hoping we could be together again for another class reunion.

Sorry, Class of 1964. You were the stars of the evening, and I have sluffed you off in favor of someone older. Now it is your turn.

Present for the 50-year class were Phillip Allen of Phoenix; Myron Boetticher of Groveport; John Domenick of Smithfield; James Elliott of Wintersville; Bob and Sherry Mosser Eltringham of Rayland; Carl Harbour of Cincinnati; Charles Hayes of Lancaster; Ed Hruschak of Piney Fork; Jim Kovach and Richard McElroy, both of Canton; Beverly Weidinger Norfolk of Dillonvale; Mary Thompson Paice of Steubenville; Barb Ogden Richards of Rayland; Dave Simmons of Mingo Junction; Paul and Barbara Barr Sink of Lorrain; Robert Skaggs of Massillon; and Ron Vandeborne of Richmond.

John Domenick, who always interviewed the 50-year classes, or should I say grilled them to get the scoop on what was going on 50 years ago, had the tables turned on him.

Artie Hartline and Howard McClure were called to the front to interview him and all the others who got their start as adults when the Beatles came into being.

It was acknowledged that all but one member of Sherry Eltringham’s family was present for her 50-year event. Rich McElroy, who graduated from Carrollton but felt SHS was his home for many years, made name tags for the 50-year class, using the pictures from the annual.

Betty Ward Purviance of New Concord was acknowledged and presented with a bottle of wine for attending her 70-year reunion. And she wondered where some of her other classmates might be.

Irene Zappone Stratton was called to the front on the occasion of her 75th year from school. She was presented with a bottle of wine as well. Irene was accompanied by Dorothy Prokes who is no slouch in school years either. It has been 71 for her. The two ladies came together.

That’s it for now. It was nice to go back to a Smithfield that was “homey,” where everyone knew your name, and if you did wrong, they knew that, too – and so did your parents.

I am glad that the Spartan reunion tradition is still going on. It’s in its 112 year. But of course no one came from that year.