by Paul Judge
If you can recall the state of the nation and the world at that time it was a remarkably tense and trying period to live through, let alone graduate and be thrust out into. Thus on Saturday, September 20th an intrepid bunch of old Washington Eagles ventured to a reunion at the Irish Cultural Center on 45th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. While mingling on the sidewalk before entering the hall with Mike and Tanya Dadaos, Terry Hamberger and spouse, Dennis Maloney, Judy Birsinger (by the way, now chair of the P.E. Department at Presidio Junior, er, now Middle School), and Michelle Lowery Pizzo, it was John Draneas who made the astute observation, "What the heck are we doing having a reunion on Lincoln Mustang turf?"
Those who gathered inside the St. Patrick's ballroom greeted and connected with friends and acquaintances. Reunions are a choice opportunity to experience disorientation and mind-numbing, awkward forgetfulness. Decades and mileage has had the effect of adding or subtracting from memory. Heck, out of a class of nearly 900 kids it truly wasn't remarkable during a 40th class reunion to politely say to someone, "Gosh, I don't remember/recognize you." Then, some moments or even hours later, to recall a shard of memory or an old impression about that individual and wish to retrieve that encounter to acknowledge the thread of old recollection.
I gravitated to catching up with the people I enjoyed and associated with forty and fifty years ago, including, in some cases, those I met in Kindergarten such as Pete Conidi, or attended parochial elementary school with. Certainly, I recognized many people who shined bright, academically or socially, among the landscape of our youth. Others are etched in memory either by their own good nature or they stood out due to memorable, sometimes legendary, behavior. One such indelible recollection was the sight and sound of watching Miner Lowe, at the time sporting a Mowhawk, pedaling a bicycle down the steep Balboa Street hill from 47th Ave to Kelly's Cove with Barbara Ream sitting atop the handle bars. There was elation in their screams that topped those from Playland as they descended through the fog on that afternoon in the spring of 1968.
Time limited the opportunity to encounter and talk with many of the assembly. But the moments that I culled were worthwhile. Dodge Riedy, you MUST write down and share the hilarious accounts of the incidents you related about some of our teachers and your masterful strategies at evading the common inconveniences of high school. Mike Dadaos, I watched you work the room like a man running for political office, but I almost made off with your dear wife. I enjoyed talking with quite a few old school mates including Craig Cheevers, Eddie LeCount, Nancy Welte (I agree, Nancy, we were among the last to come of age and be able to enter the general work force with a high school education and still be able to make a sound living.); Maureen Colyer Delosa, it was fun talking with you about the neighborhood and what ever became of...?; Bill Fiege, still 'soundly' a musician; Scott Ganos, Jean Camou, John Bain---retired SFPD---keep tickin' you ol' St Thomas Tom Cat; Conrad King---keep rooting for the home teams!; Margo Nanny, your innate skills at networking years ago helped me get that wilderness instructor job with Arlene at the Athenian School; Annette D'Antonio, Gordy Shiozaki, Rich Sheehan---where were you Irish, you were missed!; Diane Tognozzi Heckenberg, Roger Oyama, Steve Wilk---that was a perfectly hilarious "ears, nose, & standing O" memory you related about..., oh well, never mind.
And thank you tablemates for conversation during dinner---Frances Tomsovic and your charming husband, Terry Hamberger and spouse, Dennis Maloney, Mike and Tanya Dadaos, Chris Chouteau, and Laurie Cutler. 'Till next time.
Thanks to Tammy Aramian and the GWHS Alumni Association, above is a digitized version of the George Washington High School Class of 1968 panoramic class photograph that we once stood stock still for on the football field. Take a gander.
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