From The Chatham Courier, June 3, 1999
It will be a reunion to remember
|THE CHATHAMS -- The
Chatham High School Class of 1953 just can't wait until 2003 to celebrate the next
reunion, so they are making plans for a week-long celebration at Hilton Head, South
Carolina in October, 1999. This will be the class ninth reunion, and possible the best.
For the first time, it is really hard to say who's in charge of the plans, but the
stimulus for the longest reunion yet comes from a Chathamite who did not graduate from
Chatham High School even though he spent 12 years in the borough school system.
Anderson of Mentor, 0hio, was deprived of his Chatham diploma when his family moved from
25 Van Doren Ave. to Toms River in the summer of 1952. It was 45 years
since Anderson had even thought much about Chatham and his experiences here.
|Anderson's 31-year-old daughter, Susan, heard about the Great Reunion that was held in 1997. Shortly thereafter she became curious to know more about the town that her Dad had grown up in and ended up contacting one of Anderson's former neighbors, Doris Lissaman. With Lissaman's help Susan was able to obtain a copy of the Reunion Book of 1997 events which she gave to her Dad as a surprise birthday gift.||Awaiting
John Anderson of Mentor, Ohio poses with his daughter, Susan, who surprised her father with a 1997 Great Reunion Book and stimulated his interest in the upcoming Class of 1953 Chatham High School reunion.
Story Takes A Turn
|The story takes a turn when John started thinking about the neighborhood
he grew up in and his class, and, yes, even, Jimmy Doolittle, who used to fly over the
Anderson house using Ruzicka's 100-foot smoke stack as a pylon.
|"Strangely, I had been planning to write to Toms River High School to
intensify our efforts to find John," said Paul Harris, one of the Great Reunion I
Committee members. "But he found me, and I was floored when he called me over a year
ago." Harris continues. "Though I haven't seen John, I've found out he's no
ordinary guy. He considers working on this reunion and the $1,000 he's already spent on
phone calls 'his therapy'. Since John is the owner of a condo at Hilton Head he slowly
convinced us all that Hilton Head is the place, so were taking the celebration out of the
east and heading south to South Carolina."
Harris, who has made a hobby of
contacting classmates, said, "He's the cheerleader for the event, and frankly I'm a
|With almost 100 in attendance, classmates, faculty and spouses will enjoy
a full week of golfing, swimming, tennis, shopping, exploring the area by boat and
sightseeing in the historical towns of Savannah and Charleston. Bose Koldewey of
Brunswick, Ga. and Betty Magley of Mantoloking will bring their boats.
|Besides Harris of Eureka, Calif., Kitty Reams of Chatham and Ellie
Schleicher Gager of Arvada, Colo., are helping to plan an event to top all '53 class events of the past. Reams handles all the money,
does the mailings and juggles the needs and wants of the class, many of whom have
just retired. Most will stay in condos for two couples. Each night two or three informal
get-togethers will take place at Harbour Side 111 condo complex. There will be a
centerpiece event -- the dinner-dance to be held at a
local restaurant. Even there surprises will await the class.
|Also expected are special guests from other classes, including Harris
sister, Nancy (Class of '50), from California and brother, Bob (Class of '46), from
Massachusetts and at least one announced "mystery guest."
|Kitty Reams was asked how this event will differ from all others said,
"I guess we are setting a precedent for future class reunions. Who knows how many
other classes will follow? Some have said, "Wow, are you going to get tired of each
other?" I can't imagine that! We always have so much to share, whether its in Chatham
or in a place we have never been. During most reunions, you don't have enough time to
spend with each classmate. This will change, and I am very excited about it." As
proof that others are intrigued by the location and a full week in South Carolina there
are five classmates who have never before attended a reunion who will be coming
|No stone is left unturned in an effort to make this a life-time event.
Even the faculty have been contacted and Alba Quaressimo (Spanish) and Dorothyjean
Jamieson (typing) will be attending for four days. As for Anderson, he is on the phone.
"Yes, it is my therapy, and yes, I think this will open the eyes of other Chatham
High School organizers. Hilton Head is an unbelievable place, offering things for
every taste. I guess Ill go there for the
week just to keep phone bill down The week of 17 to 24 will be the reunion to all
reunions. I calculate each classmate represents about $25 worth of phone calls, and
believe me when I say it has been worth every penny.
|As for Harris, he remembers neighborhood scuffles, the most traumatic
things that happened to kids in the 1940s. "John you could say, threw sand in my face
in my own sandbox. He was the most aggressive kid in the area, and I was the class wimp. I
think he took advantage of that, but I forgive him for it."
|The four organizers are searching for several missing classmates and are
offering $50 to anyone who can help
locate Art Harvey, Ruth Byrd, Nancy Joiner, Doug Gardner, Carol Goltz, Dennis Strole or
|For other Chathamites who would be interested in holding a reunion at Hilton Head, John Anderson, suggests contacting Bennett Robinson. Robinson, who grew up in Chatham and graduated from Pingry School in 1973 can be contacted at 800-542-5535.|