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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

Basic Biittner: Lifelong friends

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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Many people have a "life-long" friend or two - someone with whom they exchange yearly Christmas cards and occasionally other correspondence, be it e-mail or "snail mail." They may also talk on the phone once in a while, and probably even visit each other in person, perhaps on a vacation or at a class reunion.

Then there's the Aurelia High School Class of 1968. That class, as have many other high school classes, has had several class reunions, every five or ten years, and their reunions have been - unlike what some of you may have experienced at your reunions - a "blast" (sorry about the 60's expression).

Six of the members of this particular class, however, have been having monthly "reunions" for over 25 years now . All six earned their college degrees (four from Iowa State, one from UNI, and one from BV), and came back to Cherokee County to live, work, and raise their families. None of the six are sure exactly how many years they have been having their monthly gatherings - which is a good sign, I guess, that they are not sick of each other. For 25-30 years, the six - Shanda (Hiemstra) Reilly, Bruce Jones, Jim Mohn, Doug Radke, John Smith, and myself - along with our "better halves," of course, have had a monthly (summers excluded) supper club. For many years, there were seven couples involved, with Mark Wharton, Class of '69, being the other member. A few years ago, though, the Whartons moved to Omaha, and the remaining club members deemed them "irreplaceable," reducing the number to the current six .

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Hail, hail- the gang's all here (left to right): Larry and Shanda Reilly, John and Marcia Smith, Barb and Doug Radke, Dan and Janet Whitney, Bruce and Deena Jones, Connie and Jim Mohn
Once a month, one of the couples hosts the group at their home, with everyone contributing to the meal. The host's other main responsibility is to provide the evening's entertainment, usually a game of some type. When everyone has finished the scrumptious meal, it's time to "let the games begin." The games are lively and fun, and though they are competitive, by mutual agreement every game ends in a tie, no matter what the actual score is.

December is an exception to the normal gathering, as the group goes out to an area restaurant for a Christmas party. Each January or February, the group activity centers around the game on "Super Bowl Sunday."

In addition to this monthly "tribal ritual," several different "sub-groups" have formed over the years, and participated in weekends or vacations together - in such fun sites as Las Vegas, Colorado, and Minneapolis. In 2001, several of the couples flew to New York City and spent a few days enjoying what was, for many of us, our first time in The Big Apple. Since that trip, several of the couples have been putting aside money in anticipation of taking an Alaskan Cruise together in a few years.

In addition to the monthly gatherings and trips , group members have watched our fifteen (combined) children grow, graduate from high school and college, get married, and have children. We've had a lot of great memories through the years, but I have promised that I will not divulge any group secrets, stories, or nicknames, as - just like in Las Vegas- "what's said here, stays here."

This column is part of the paper's "Senior Scene" series. But, as one of the supper club members - an avid "Wizard of Oz" fan - might say - "Pay no attention to that word at the top of the page!"

The only "Senior" thing about this group is the fact that their current ages happen to fall in the range that somebody ELSE has determined to be a "Senior."

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner