2009.09.30 Who are all these people?

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I spent Saturday evening in the company of hundreds of strangers. It seems as though I should have known them—they were all Morenci school graduates—but I couldn’t recognize the majority.

This is what happens when you attend a school reunion.

The organizers of the event—those hard-working volunteers who put in hours and hours of preparation—were kind enough to distribute the essential tags with name and year of graduation, but they really should have used a larger type size.

And they should have given instructions to place the tag firmly in the middle of the forehead. It’s so obvious when you approach someone and look down at their tag. With forehead placement, you can pretty much look someone in the eyes and realize it was the girl who used to sit beside you in second grade.

My class from 1968 had eight members in attendance. Not bad, but still pretty small. There were 64 of us and, as far as I know, six of the group are no longer living. That seems like a lot for a group of kids who haven’t yet reached the age of 60.

Several months ago I wrote that our class isn’t the cohesive type that regularly schedules reunions. I think we’ve had two and I missed one because of vacation.

I looked through the yearbook at the time and wondered where some of those people had gone off to. The “lost ones,” I called them, and I included Lila Jones in that group.

She re-introduced herself to me Saturday night and told me she was one of the lost ones. She also informed me that she lived in far-off Fayette.

I certainly didn’t take advantage of my time at the reunion. I wasn’t up on my feet working the crowd and reconnecting with old acquaintances like I should have. I pretty much stuck to my table at the back, although several “strangers” stopped by to say hello or to mention something about the newspaper or to ask about my sister, Diane.

I guess the line-up for dinner provided the best opportunity for visiting, or at least for glancing at the name tags and then quickly looking at the face with wonder. “So that’s who that is!?”

John Geisler’s talk brought back a lot of memories for most people there. He presented a Morenci quiz and my New York City wife was quite pleased that she was answering question after question, at least for a while.

When it got to the item about telling time by a loud whistle, I think the wrong answer was given. The loud blast from Parker Rust Proof was named as the noon whistle, but I turned to Curt Jones and said, “Didn’t that blow at 11:30?”

Curt thought so, too, and I got up to check with Jim Whitehouse—supreme purveyor of inconsequential Morenci trivia—and he, too, said 11:30 was when the whistle sounded.

I was reminded earlier in the day that far-away Fayette still has a whistle—a noon whistle—but it’s the fire whistle. Morenci’s was unique: the product of steam being released at the Parker plant.

But why a noon whistle? Is it a general signal to stop and have lunch? Is that what they do in Fayette? And why were we called to lunch a half hour ealier in Morenci?

Come to think it, I go home for lunch at 11:30. That now-silent whistle still governs my life. I guess I’m just continuing the pattern that my father established.

That was something John Geisler mentioned, also. Not the eating habits, but the fact that there have been three generations of Greens running the newspaper here. John had to embarrass me and make me raise my hand. He probably wanted me to stand, but I was really off duty that night. I should have at least been taking some notes from his talk.

I remember that he spoke of the general decline of U.S. newspapers and he mentioned how pleased he is that the Observer keeps plugging along. He says it’s what keeps him tied to the community where he spent many of his school years.

It’s true, the Observer is mailed every week to dozens and dozens of “strangers” who grew up in Morenci, many of whom were in the gymnasium Saturday.

Maybe five years from now, at the next reunion, they could all clip their Observer address labels and glue that to their foreheads.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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