Reunion brings memories, hope for the future

The 50th high school class reunion is a rite of passage for retirees; I just returned from mine in Ripon, Wis. — home of the Ripon Tigers. It was one of the most heartwarming experiences I have ever had and a true homecoming. Our class has faithfully had a reunion every five years since our graduation in 1969, yet this one was different in so many ways.

Back in the day, we were as fractured as the country in which we were coming of age. The tumult of our adolescence mirrored the unrest broadcast daily on nightly television news hours and printed on the front pages of the newspapers. News of the war in Vietnam competed with footage of civil rights struggles and the killing of college students on the campus of Kent State. Boys graduated with draft numbers along with their diplomas and worried if they would see their families again, let alone grow up to have their own. Presidents and presidential candidates — brothers — were assassinated along with a civil rights leader who had advocated for peaceful resistance. Another claimed the highest office in the land amid the biggest national scandal our country had ever seen. Everywhere we looked there was fighting and division; the foundation that typically nurtured and grounded young adolescents was crumbling under our feet as we walked across the stage to receive our diplomas and begin our adult lives.

The personality of our graduating class reflected the mood of the country in which we had grown up. Our teachers were challenged by us and viewed us as a “problem class.” We felt that label, and that brand burned in our hearts for a long time. We also all managed those years very differently. Some were blessed with strong families, to whom they could retreat at the end of each school day. Others buried themselves in their studies, allowing their homework to take priority over the unrest that surrounded them, and graduated at the top of the class. Still others openly rebelled, choosing a variety of methods to separate themselves from a society they believed they could no longer trust. They rioted in the streets, carrying signs of their disillusionment with the powers that be, or quietly retreated from it through a drug-induced haze of personal isolation. It was a tough environment in which to grow up, as every core value we had ever known was being uprooted and seemingly called into question.

The early reunions mirrored the unsettled nature of the ground in which classmates had tried to take root. Some continued on to college and successfully obtained a degree; some had started a college degree but had failed to complete it; others had begun marriages that had failed; while others had somehow stagnated in their adolescence and were trying to live a dream that was long over for the rest of us. And, sadly, others had already died. As past reunion weekends progressed, classmates tended to stay within their former high school groups; tight-knit little enclaves of people who shared similar economic roots, the same values and viewed life through the same lens. We partied, asked and answered the same questions, and went our separate ways to continue our separate lives until converging on our hometown yet again, five years later, to repeat the ritual.

This year — this milestone reunion — was different, and I sensed it from the moment I walked in the door of the first evening’s festivities. We were to meet in the bar area of the most popular pizza place on the town square — Roadhouse Pizza. The upstairs dining room, I found out later, was not chosen because some graduates had problems with climbing stairs. What?! I should not have been surprised at that news, because I do not climb stairs as easily as I once did, either. As I entered the pizza place, honestly my first thought was, “Who are all of these old people?” Eyes looked out at me from wrinkled faces beneath bald heads or white hair. At first, I thought I had read the invitation incorrectly and was in the wrong place.

But as I took a closer look and circulated around the room, I began to recognize voices, smiles and the eyes of my classmates. I had missed the last reunion so, for me, 10 years had passed since seeing most of the people in the room. At our age, a lot can change in 10 years! The biggest difference was that everyone was one big group; there were no more divisions into the former cliques that had so defined the past. Somewhere along life’s journey, the inescapable common experiences of making a way in the world and raising kids of our own had levelled the playing field.

Conversations centered around the typical topics of careers built, from which we had recently retired although some were still working or had started a new part-time adventure. We talked not about business ventures but about our families — children and grandchildren — along with our homes and whether or not we were still in the same place or had down-sized. Many had changed states to follow their children’s relocations.

We simply enjoyed each other’s company over pizza and beer.

The next day, we met to tour our old high school, which had been added onto twice since being built new in the mid-’60s. Some of the hallways were familiar. As we rounded the corner to the band room, I remembered the trip to deposit my band instrument the morning I learned that Bobby Kennedy had been killed. Some things you never forget. The guidance counselor’s “office” had grown into an entire career / higher education planning center. The library’s books and magazines had given way to a room filled with computers; my favorite hiding place amid the stacks to avoid a band lesson had disappeared. The industrial arts “room” was an entire department filled with the latest welding and woodworking equipment. There was an entirely new gymnasium, but my dreaded swimming pool was still there. I never did learn to swim, and memories of my gym teacher jumping into the water fully clothed to rescue me three times were still quite vivid! I got a D- for at least showing up to class. The tour took a full two hours, and we all marveled at the many changes while taking great pride in the fact that our alma mater was so dedicated to preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges.

The final event was a banquet at a lovely golf course country club in Green Lake, Wis. More classmates were in attendance — nearly 70 out of a graduating class of 144; we had lost 22 classmates in the past 50 years. One classmate joined us from as far away as Brazil, and our foreign exchange student from Australia also was there. A larger-than-life-size photograph of one classmate’s face had been carried around to all of the events because he could not be there in person. Jerry had received a heart transplant 20 years ago and was now recovering from a kidney transplant. His kidney donor was Holly — the classmate who was carrying around his photo! She received a special “Share Everything” award later that evening for her selfless act of courage and compassion. The many veterans in attendance received special recognition — gratitude that was long overdue from a divisive war fought decades ago.

I found myself wishing our teachers could see how their “problem class” had grown.

I left for home with a very full heart. We had grown from a rebellious group of teens to become responsible employees, parents, grandparents and citizens of a world much larger than ourselves. At the risk of sounding political, we find ourselves currently in a world as fractured and unsettled for today’s youth as it was for my generation back in the 1960s. If history does, indeed, repeat itself, then I have tremendous hope for our future. Today’s generation of graduates have a new set of problems to face, but I am hopeful that the youth of today will rise to the challenge of bringing solutions for all of us.





Scenes and Sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Ring toss, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts & gardening, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.; evening visitor, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; pokereno, 2:30 p.m.; afternoon visitor, 3 p.m.; “Lawrence Welk,” 5 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; Pictionary, 1:15 p.m.; jigsaw brain tease, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 pm; bingo, 2 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-one church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; trivia teasers, 10:30 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memory Books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; Sunshine Club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library cart, 9:30; book club, 10 a.m.; mass, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; action movie, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Coffee social/smart shoppers, 10 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; Dollar Tree, noon; garden club, 1 p.m.; You Be the Judge, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; Bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; monthly birthday party, 2 p.m.; musical movie, 6 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search/hangman,10 a.m..; geri-gym, 11 p.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. Sunday through Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Popcorn Day: Every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; company’s coming room visits – outdoors, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 am.; bingo, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Who am I? 10:15 a.m.; “Wheel of Fortune,” 2:15 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; fun in the sun / patio ice cream social, 2 p.m.; flip five, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; “Deal or No Deal” bingo, 2 p.m.; crazy for cards, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Finish lines, 10:15 a.m.; pokeno, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; help your neighbor, 10:15 a.m.; ice cream and bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 10:15 a.m.; Jan & Gino, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Men’s breakfast, 7; current events, 10:15 a.m.; ice cream social, 2 p.m.; bingo, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Yoga, 10 a.m.: jokereno, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; camp fire/concert-Fatwood 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; religious bingo, 2 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.; Music in the Park – Ten Cent Cans, 6:30 p.m.

Friday: Short stories, 10:15 a.m.; family picnic, 11 a.m. to 1p.m.; entertainment – Jim D., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; western movie, 2 p.m.; pamper and polish, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Crystal, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m., refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; left-center-right, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.; dinner out, 4:45 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Grace & Dave, 2 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; fly swatter volley, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Dyna stretch, 10 a.m.; black jack / 21, 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; one-to-one visits, 3:30 p.m.; Grace & Dave, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; hot fudge sundae party, 2 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10 a.m.; flippo, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; Uno, 10:30 a.m.; pictionary, 2 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; beauty shop, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary (2nd), 2:30 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.; mind joggers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Outside social, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m., social circle, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Bunco, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Casino outing, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Catholic Mass, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; bunco, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Hand massage, 10:15 a.m.; life stories, 10:30 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. If you have meals delivered and will not be home, notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


Suggested meal donations: $5 older than 60; $6 younger than 60; $1 extra for take-out

To reserve meals, call the center by 1 p.m. with names and the number of people.

Open: Monday-Wednesday 4:30 p.m. – Soup & Salad Bar and 5 p.m. – Dinner

Menu for the week of July 22 was unavailable:

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner – all are welcome for dinner and/or class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations needed 48-hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation. Other assistance includes: information on aging, benefits specialist, and caregiver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 – RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Meal at noon Wednesdays only – Menu under Florence Center. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available as always. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. 

Menu for the week of July 22 follows: 

Monday: Swedish meatballs, noodles, pea and cheese salad, beets, apple pie

Tuesday: Hash brown egg casserole, breakfast sausage, stewed tomatoes, fruit

Wednesday: Pulled pork on a bun, potato wedges, creamy cucumbers, fruit salad

Thursday: John Wayne casserole, corn on the cob, fruit

Friday: Chicken fettuccini alfredo, broccoli, fruit juice, oatmeal raisin cookies

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 – RSVP for meals.

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month – menu is at the Florence Center.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 – RSVP for meals

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday – menu is at the Florence Center. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon. Call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256 and speak to Christine Tramontine at ext. 235 or Stephen at ext. 230.

The menu for the week of July 22:

Monday: Cheeseburger, seasoned fries, cauliflower, fruit and milk.

Tuesday: Chili, cornbread, fruit and milk.

Wednesday: Mexican cod, baby red potatoes, corn, fruit and milk.

Thursday: Roast beef, oven-browned potatoes, green bean casserole, dessert and milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251-4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis.-area. We welcome any senior groups who would like to use the meal site as a meeting place — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

The menu for the week of July 22:

Monday: Monterey chicken, Philly potatoes, California blend veggies, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

Tuesday: Dog Days of Summer Dinner: Beef hot dog on a bun, coleslaw, baked beans, fresh fruit, soup and salad bar, juice, dessert

Wednesday: Bourbon steak, rice, mixed veggies, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

Thursday: Pork chops, potato wedges, corn, soup and salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert

 Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

A senior coloring class meets daily. All are welcome. Some materials will be provided.

Telephone reassurance is available for any senior who doesn’t get out much and would like a friendly daily phone check to see that all is well.

Note: File of Life packets available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome.