Friday, July 7, 2017

JDHS Class of 1967 Fiftieth Reunion - Juneau, Alaska

Fifty years ago this spring, I graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School, along with 214 other students. I knew all of these kids, and some of them were especially close friends. In 1977 I attended parts of our tenth class reunion. In 1997 I attended our thirtieth reunion. And I've just returned home after attending the fiftieth reunion of the JDHS Class of 1967. It was, hands down, the BEST reunion ever! Eighty-nine classmates attended. Twenty-nine have already passed away.

We left the Austin airport early in the morning of Wednesday, June 28, and arrived in Juneau by 12:30 p.m. that same day (having gained three hours because of the time zones). We were happy to see that the weather was fair - no rain, although it was overcast. We rented a car and did a little sight-seeing that afternoon. We took Carolyn, at whose house we were staying, out for dinner at the Twisted Fish that evening. Oh, that fresh Alaskan seafood tasted so good!

Lupine grows wild in Alaska. It is a "cousin" of the Texas bluebonnet, but is much taller.

Dan and I offered to take a photo of a couple of tourists who were visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, and, in turn, they offered to take ours.
Carolyn Cameron and Dan - Twisted Fish restaurant
That night we sat and watched the daylight fade (much later than we were used to, here in Texas), from her deck.

Our first evening, from Carolyn's deck

Another night-time photo from Carolyn's deck
On Thursday I had lunch with Kathy Clemens. She and I have been very good friends since our children were little ones. Her older son, Jonathan, was best buds with Chris in those early days. Kathy and I did our grocery shopping together every week, with the kiddos in tow; picnicked at Auke Bay Recreation Area with the children; and, most days, got together to visit and drink a diet Dr. Pepper while the kids napped.

Kathy (on right) and me - long-time friends - at Asiana Garden cafe
That evening we met up with my Uncle Bud; his wife, Ardyne; daughter, Lisa; and Lisa's husband, Dan, at the Douglas Cafe for dinner. It was so good to see all of them again. Uncle Bud, who was Mom's brother, always was, and is, very special to me.

Left to right: Dan (Lisa's husband), Lisa, Uncle Bud, Ardyne, me and Dan - at the Douglas Cafe
Friday was a busy day. We had a wonderful lunch (fried halibut!) with special friends, Pepper and Cindy. Then we went out to Liz and Louise's place for a visit, catching up with all the news. And, that evening, the reunion kicked off with a reception at the Yacht Club. When we parked the car at the Yacht Club and prepared to go inside, I had a moment of cold feet. I wondered if anyone would remember me, and whether it would be really awkward. But as soon as we stepped inside, all those qualms evaporated. I was hugged and welcomed and sought out for conversation after conversation. Everyone remembered me, and I remembered them. It was especially wonderful seeing some of those I was closest with, and I found myself really enjoying getting to know, better now than I did then, some who had been casual acquaintances.

On Saturday morning we went to the Pioneer Home and picked up our forever friend, Bea Long, and took her to breakfast at the Capitol Cafe in the Baranof Hotel. We have many good memories of this cafe, with its original art deco touches. When Dan and I lived in Juneau the second time - 1998-2003 - we had a tradition of meeting our good friends (and Bea's daughter and son-in-law), Dave and Karen, there for breakfast whenever there was a State holiday. So it seemed the perfect place to take Bea. We enjoyed every moment with her, and had a wonderful breakfast. Later we were saddened to learn that they may be closing this cafe as they continue the hotel renovation that has already begun.

Dear friend, Bea, after breakfast at the Capitol Cafe in the Baranof Hotel
That evening we met up at Auke Bay with my classmates, once again, to go on a whale-watching cruise and to have dinner out on Colt Island, at the Orca Point Lodge, known for its delicious salmon bake. The time on the boat was very special. We did see some wildlife - orca, humpback whale, seals and sea lions - but we were all so busy visiting that we hardly took time to watch out the windows. Dan and I sat with Walter Sobeloff, and I got to know him better than I ever had during our school years. He surprised me by fondly remembering a lot about my family - about the delectables at Clark's Bakery and about my Mom singing for the local telethon, which was televised every year. He even remembered a particular song she had sung, and said he thought of her whenever he heard that old song on the radio.

Walter Sobeloff

The tail of the only humpback whale we saw that evening

Some of the orca we saw


Sea lions resting on a buoy

Some of my classmates enjoying catching up, while on the whale-watching boat

The classmates who attended the whale event gathered at the bow of the boat for a group photo
Sunday morning we had another reunion, of sorts, with those we knew so well from the Juneau Church of Christ. What surprised us was how many new folks are there that we didn't know! We left Juneau the last time in 2003, so it was good to see all those new faces, as well as our old friends.

After morning worship we headed to Sandy Beach, in Douglas, for the reunion picnic. Again, lots of good visiting with former classmates. Some made it to the picnic who hadn't been able to be at the other activities.

Dan and I as we arrived for the Sandy Beach picnic

Smiles on everyone's faces as they talk and catch up on the past 50 years. Pictured here are Monty Compton and Jennifer Wilke

For those of you from JDHS 1967, I have posted some photos of people here (click on first picture, then there will be forward and back arrows for the rest of the pictures). I'm trying to save other readers, who don't know these folks, from viewing unknown face after unknown face.

Later in the afternoon Lynda and Gary Sanders had a mini-reunion, at their house on Tee Harbor, for those who were closest with Gary. Gary recently had brain surgery, and is slated for further surgery, and wasn't able to make it to all of the reunion events, so we took ourselves out to his house to be with him. It was a wonderful afternoon. Gary, Mike and Pat were all there, and they were my three "buds" from the college prep physics class we took together (I was the only girl in class). Many thanks to Lynda and Gary for hosting this small group of good friends.

These are the close friends of Gary Sanders, who gathered at his house on Sunday evening - Front row, left to right: Jenny (Day) Peterson and Bill Peterson. Center, left to right: Gary Sanders, Fred Thorstenson and Pat Maloney (in front of Fred). Back row, left to right: Mike Noel, Lynda (Mielke) Sanders, Darcy Lockhart, Herb Satko, Linda (Clark) Judd
Monday was an unscheduled day, but we had fun doing some shopping for the grandkids and for Carolyn, our generous and hospitable hostess at her home on Fritz Cove. The local fireworks were that night, around midnight, but Dan and I chose not to go, since it had been raining cats and dogs all day. Our local Juneau friends called us "wimps," and we had to admit that they were right. We have acclimated to Texas weather, and standing in the rain and 50 degree weather for an hour of fireworks didn't sound appealing to us.

Tuesday was the 4th of July, and, once again, the rain kept us from going to the parade. We actually went into town, thinking we would watch it, but the closer we came to town, the worse the weather became. Instead, we had coffee at Heritage (a daily "must" for Dan, while there) and bought some flowers to take to the cemetery and lay on Grandma and Grandpa's graves. I provided a little entertainment as we were leaving, and walking to the car. We walked across the cemetery to the street where our car was parked. Dan called to me and told me to come to where he was exiting the cemetery, up a small rise to the street. I was where the "rise" was more of a steep hillside. I didn't see any problem in walking up that little hill to get to the street, but Dan was right (there, I said it!), with the heavy rain, the grass was slippery, and as I tried getting up the hill I slipped and fell backward onto the wet ground. I didn't do any serious damage to myself (and I hung onto my camera and saved it from damage, as well), but I did have some soft-tissue injury, which has left me quite sore.

Fourth of July, driving into town

Evergreen Cemetery, where my grandma and grandpa are buried

Even the eagles were a bit disgruntled with all of the rain!
We couldn't let 4th of July pass by with NO celebrating, though. Because of the weather, the annual church picnic was changed to an indoor get-together, which we enjoyed attending. Interestingly, there were folks (John Wyatt and David Schmitz, specifically) who no longer live in Juneau, but were visiting friends and family, like we were. Seeing them was an unexpected and welcome treat, as well.

Getting ready to eat our indoor picnic food at the church annex

On the right is David Schmitz, who lives in Oregon, and was in Juneau, visiting family. He was the ring-bearer at our wedding. He just retired from teaching this spring. Now that makes me feel old! (David's sister-in-law, Jody, on left)

A flash from the past: These were the flower girls and ring bearer at our wedding. That cute little boy is David Schmitz - the same David as is in the photo above. The flower girl on the left is my cousin, Lisa, who is the pretty red-head, holding onto Uncle Bud's arm, in the photo of us having dinner with the family at Douglas Cafe (7th photo from top, above). For those of you who knew the Waldrons, the little girl on the right is Joanna Waldron.

John Wyatt, visiting Juneau from Washington
The sun finally came out on Wednesday! We had "bookend" weather - dry on day-one and on our last day, but nothing but rain in between. The daytime temperatures stayed in the 50s until Wednesday, when it hit 60. We took advantage of being able to see the tops of the mountains, and drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese, Amalga Harbor, Eaglecrest Ski Area, and stopped to take pictures at those places and elsewhere along the way.

Peterson Lake near Amalga Harbor

Scene from Amalga Harbor

This new (to us) board walk along the Gastineau Channel is a great addition

This beautiful, life-sized whale sculpture sits on the Channel, near the Douglas Bridge. It was created by well-known artist, Skip Wallen, and is still under construction, as far as the installation goes. When finished, it will sit on a huge pedestal from which a fountain will spray water up and around the whale. You can see what the finished piece will look like here.

Brotherhood Bridge - everyone's favorite spot to photograph the Mendenhall Glacier

Eagle Beach

The original lodge at Eaglecrest Ski Area, which was first opened back when we lived there in the '70s. I did my first downhill skiing at Eaglecrest, although I got better at it in Oregon, at Mt. Hood.

The view when driving down the hill from Eaglecrest

The Shrine of St. Therese
Scene from the point at the Shrine

View from out at the Shrine. These seiners are gathered to catch chum salmon during a six-hour opening, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday
We ate lunch at Bullwinkle's Pizza, where we ran into two of my classmates, Lorraine Love Marshall and Mike Heck, so we sat at their table and enjoyed a final classmate visit. (Bullwinkle's Pizza was where our boys, when they were babies, teethed on crispy crusts while we enjoyed pizza.) So many memories are bound up in sites around Juneau.

Left to right: Me, Lorraine (Love) Marshall, Mike Heck, Dan - at Bullwinkle's
This Bullwinkle's is in a new building, but it's the same business, the same wonderful pizza, the same free popcorn with your meal and the same Bullwinkle and Rocky decor as the old one,

Our final event was dinner with Liz and Louise, at their home. Seeing them again was a highlight of our trip. Sitting in their living room, catching up on everything, gazing out on Auke Bay, and watching fishing boats and eagles pass by, almost made us feel like we'd never left. (Louise was my 3rd grade teacher; Liz was my sixth grade teacher.)

Louise, me and Liz, on their deck - 10 p.m., and the sun had just slipped behind a mountain, but hadn't "set" yet
A fishing boat anchored in front of Liz and Louise's place. At top of the mast sits an eagle, which perches here whenever the boat is anchored.

Closeup of Liz and Louise's eagle
 It was 10:00 by the time we went back to Carolyn's. Carolyn had been waiting for us and had ice cream and root beer ready to make floats for us. We were pretty full from our feast at Liz and Louise's, but we managed to put down those delicious root beer floats and get one final "gab fest" in with Carolyn before heading to bed for our final night's sleep before departing early the next morning.

Good-bye Juneau! Thursday, July 6, 2017
We arrived in Austin Thursday evening and were picked up by friends, Larry and Deborah. We all went to dinner together at El Monumento, a great Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, and then Dan and I drove on home. It was good to get home, as it always is, even though we had a spectacular Juneau vacation and reunion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful area! Too bad you can't have a summer home there to escape the Texas summers! Glad you had such a great time at your reunion activities and visiting with old friends. I recognized Bea from when she visited a friend that used to attend church where we go. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures...are you going to do some paintings from your pictures?