I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Reunion

The Prospector and I drove down to the valley and stayed overnight, in a HOTEL, on Saturday.
 A very nice hotel, with a swimming pool and a hot tub.
Why did we leave the farm? Why did we leave the dogs in a kennel overnight and venture down to the town of Manteca in the great central valley?
Because 50 years ago, the Prospector graduated from Manteca High School and we were celebrating the occasion with a PARTY.
Yes... FIFTY years. It was 1962.
John F. Kennedy was our president.  No one had been to the moon yet, but John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth. The average home cost $12,500. and a gallon of gas was about .28 cents. We went to the Drive-In movies to see West Side Story and To Kill A Mockingbird... and "make out". It was a good time to be a teenager.
 Manteca was a small farming community between Stockton and Modesto. Today the railroad tracks still run through town and the old Lincoln Elementary School, where the Prospector went, is still teaching children everyday. Yosemite Ave. looks better than it use to and has murals of Manteca at the turn of the century on some of its buildings.
We arrived at the Golf Course on Union St just in time to sign in, get our pictures taken and start meeting all the "old" folks that were walking around looking for signs of recognition. It's a good thing that they not only gave everyone name tags, but they also had the good sense to put a photo of the person on it from the yearbook. Everyone that walked up to us looked at the name tag first, then the lights would go on in their eyes. "Oh, it's ... my gosh, you look great.", and they would smile and give the Prospector a big hug or a hand shake. He was on the reunion committee so he did know quite a few people, but there were a lot of people that were total surprises. That's the fun of a reunion of 50 years.
It was quite dark in the room. I brought the little Canon point and shoot, instead of my big Nikon, so a lot of the pictures didn't turn out well. But we had a great time and it was a beautiful evening with good food and "happy to see you" ambiance.

The next day we met everyone for breakfast and then drove to the Manteca Museum. This was an amazing place.
It's an old church that has been revived and filled with everything Manteca has done for the last 150 years or so. This photo above is a replica of the old, original high school. The walls were covered with class pictures from the very beginning.
This is a PE class in 1923. Can you imagine wearing a skirt and stockings to play sports? Life was definitely different then.
There were all kinds of rooms filled with what life was like in the 1800's.
You know. What they called "woman's work". And it was.
Look at the smile on that "dummy's" face. She's happy and she's ironing. What's wrong with her?

Even when it was a new invention, it was still a lot of work. This washing machine below, still used buckets that had to be carried, emptied and cleaned out every wash day.
 Then, as I was contemplating the efforts of my grandmother and her dislike (hatred) of housework, I looked up on the wall.
There, before me, was a familiar face.
There on the wall, for all the world to see, was a picture of my staid and rather stern father-in-law, doing the HULA. He is the lovely one, second from the left in the back row... with the blond hair.
Yes, it was him.
He was 33 years old and doing a skit for the Manteca Jaycees in 1952. Oh my gosh!! I never pictured him doing anything like this.
 But there were moments, years later, when he would say or do something that would make me think he was still a little boy... and his blue eyes would twinkle. I never saw him like this however. I don't remember him ever being a skinny dancer with a blond wig.
 I met him 10 years later, for the first time, and life had settled him down a bit. He was a good father-in-law and always treated me with respect and love. In 1968, in a hospital room, the night I gave birth to his first grandson, he quietly put his head through the doorway and whispered "Thank you." to me. I was scared, hurting and not quite ready for parenthood. Those words made such a difference to me. That was a moment that I will never forget.
He was a good man. He died too young and we all miss him.
So... to see this serious, and sometimes harsh, man dancing in drag at 33 years of age was astonishing, to say the least. He looks like he was having a great time. The Prospector said he kind of remembers his dad doing this, but he was only nine years old at the time and the memory is vague. We all had a good laugh over the photo. It was a moment in the history of Manteca that surely gave some of the town folk a good laugh too.

The weekend is over. I'm kind of tired and have sore feet from dancing (very little) and standing for long periods of time in "fancy" shoes. But it was a great reunion and we all decided that we better not wait another 50 years, for the next get-together, because there might not be anyone left.
We drove home Sunday afternoon and picked up the dogs.
Everything is back to normal. The weather is cooling down, finally, and the fancy duds are back in the closet.
This is us... at the reunion.
 We clean up pretty good, don't we?... for a couple of old, farm folks.


  1. What a wonderful surprise to find that picture of your father-in-law! Isn't it amazing to learn new things about those who we "thought we knew"? He sounds like a beautiful person. ....maybe the photo was there as his way of saying hello to both of you!

  2. you do clean up well...this makes me want to go to a reunion, and i really rarely feel like that...pretty cool on the museum as well...and on the pic of your FIL...haha..

  3. You guys look great!!!! I will have my 40th next year!!! We Gold Country Girls must meet up with you someday!!!!

  4. I enjoyed reading about the reunion, and seeing the photos. You two look very nice and like you said you did clean up well for a couple of old, farm folks. Glad you had a good time. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. I think the key word in the bit about ironing is "dummy"! She would have to be daft to be smiling during those 'good old days'...As for you two...dapper and lovely! You definitely look like you were having fun!

  6. What a great week end it was and spending time with you guys was the best! Love your post, and when we get REALLY old we will have it to remind us what fun we had!

    Love, Ginny and Al

  7. You guys look really great! I figure our 50th reunion will be 2015. I've not been to one yet since I've been living in California and my high school is in Oklahoma and I was never that interested in seeing people. However, I think the time has come with this 50th one.

  8. How fun! And how nice to see you both. You clean up very very well, you both look wonderful and love the smiles.. :)

  9. I loved reading about Manteca, and especially enjoyed your stories about your father-in-law. Great shot of the two of you. Tina

  10. sexy girl
    and the hunk next to you...better hold on to him....
    I love that you had such a great time ..and story of your father in law....tears
    I think I saw a blogger I follow...Pink Dogwood Blossoms...wouldn't that be funny
    ..you still have it C

  11. What fun to see your father-in-law in a different light! Sometimes people can really surprise us!

    The photo of you and the Prospector is wonderful! You look beautiful and I love the color of your top.

    Glad you had such a great time and no, don't wait so long for the next reunion! ;)

  12. I love your picture, and I'm so glad you had a great time!

  13. What a great surprise! Looks like you had a lovely time. It's good to do something different every now and then. We are home bodies too. Love the picture of you together!

  14. And they say you can't go home! How fun to see an old photo of your FIL all dressed up. LOL Glad you had such a good time. I would like to see a few people with whom I went to high school. By this time in our lives, the whole "I'm out to impress everyone" thing should be long gone! But you never know...


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