From left: My high school classmate Judy Olson Ellington, her husband, John, as he sings, “You’ll Never Walk Alone:” and another of our classmates Leon Wedar and his wife LaVonne.
I’ve mentioned before a comment my mother made as I was out the door to college. But her words of wisdom bear repeating. “It’s OK to make new friends,” she told me, “but don’t forget the old.”
Mom would be tickled pink to know it’s easy to heed her advice.
I think the “kids” in my graduating class from Newburg, (N.D.) High School will forever remain among the friends I cherish the most. We may be scattered here, there, and everywhere, but our roots are entrenched in the Newburg Eagles’ soil.
This week I had the great joy of having a couple classmates and their spouses around my kitchen table. We first met for lunch at Olive Garden and then they followed me home for rhubarb pie (with yummy coconut meringue) and coffee.
With just 14 in our class (one is now deceased) we were proud back then to be small town North Dakota stuff. We still are.
It’s been a while since the whole class has been together, but, like the Bible verse reads, “Where two or three are gathered . . . , well, we take what we can get. Turns out “two or three,” is a bit of heavenly sunshine. Earlier this summer Jim and I had a lovely evening with another of my classmates, Gene Anderson and his wife, Laural, who were in town from Colorado.
These latest plans were set after Judy Olson Ellington, who with her husband, John, lives in Baraboo, Wis., contacted me saying they were passing through Grand Forks on Monday. Could we meet for lunch?
I called another classmate, Leon Wedar, who with his wife, LaVonne, lives in Minot. Like the rest of us, they are on-the-go people and thought nothing of driving a couple hundred miles for lunch then back home again.
That’s the way it should be at this stage of the game.
Let me tell you about my quality guests, who have lived our class motto to the fullest. It was, “When the sun sets, the stars shine on.”
Judy, who radiates classiness, met her husband at the University of North Dakota. He earned a degree in music education and Judy graduated from the College of Nursing then went on to become a nurse practitioner.
Leon is our U.S. Navy hero who served aboard the USS Intrepid. He later had his own radio repair business in Minot where he is very involved in the community. Among her talents, his wife, LaVonne, is a marvelous sewer/quilter. In fact, a quilt she made sold for $2,000 at an auction to benefit Metigoshe Ministries at Lake Metigoshe near Bottineau, N.D.
When we do get together, we classmates love to reminisce about our wonderful teachers, Leona Strom, Bob Tvedt, Lester Wyman, Ozzie Noraker and Bob Hunskor, to name a few.
We girls will never forget the day we were in Bottineau for a music festival. We had a little free time so we went to Trutna’s Department Store and bought big red and yellow farmer’s handkerchiefs. We each sewed ours together that night and wore them as blouses to school the next day. Principal Bob Hunskor promptly sent us home to change into something more appropriate. Guess we weren’t so cute after all.
We talk about seeing each other for the first time on the bus, and the times we got together to make pizza, which back then was the beginning of Chef Boyardee in a box.
We reminisce about the class picnics we had after finals in the spring and marching the band to the cemetery for the Memorial Day service, singing in the chorus and all the class plays. Oh what fun!
I mentioned that Judy’s husband, John, has a music education degree from UND. That day I learned that for 18 years he sang in the Gospel Quartet, “The Messengers.” He continues to give hour long concerts at nursing homes. John raved about his accompanist but since she wasn’t with us, I asked if he sang A capella? A moment later, his marvelous baritone broke into robust beautiful song:
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Each of us three couples has marked 50 years of marriage. We all have children and grandchildren, and yes, we’ve all had storms – floods, loss of jobs, illness.
But we’ve decided that because of our days together – way back when – we’ll never walk alone. Our friendships, our memories and our common faith walk with us.