Reunion XI, St. Louis, April 30-May 2, 2015
The old song goes "Meet me in St. Louis," so we did. Headquartered in the grand Chase-Park Plaza Hotel (just across from Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's Fair that inspired the song), fifty classmates and guests came back together to tour, golf, sing, dance, eat, drink and generally enjoy each others' company.
On Thursday, we were transported to Defiance, MO, where our hosts Jack and Lois Easterling pointed out their property from the deck of the Chandler Hill Winery. After lunch, some of the group got a lesson in early Missouri history on a tour of the Daniel Boone home, then we reunited with the golfers at the Easterling's home for a barbecued ribs, a little skeet shooting and some pickin' on the front porch.
Friday was a city day, and started with a trip to downtown St. Louis and its most famous landmark, the Gateway Arch. It was a bright and cloudless day, and those who took the elevator to the top of the arch got a see-forever view. After lunch in The Hill district, there was a tour of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and a quick stop at the beer garden. For some (even the Pittsburgh fans), the highlight of the evening was a party suite at the Cardinals-Pirates game at Busch Stadium (St. Louis 2-1 in 10 innings).
Saturday everyone got a chance to relax, or check out the other St. Louis attractions, before the annual dinner and dance. The guidon got a new streamer, and OC2-70 enthusiastically accepted the Kanemoto's invitation to meet again in Hawai'i.
Here's CJ's reminiscence:Our OC2-70 reunions are like fine wine, they just get better with age. Our first reunion in Washington D.C. March of 2000 set the stage. Every 18-months, and 15 years later Saint Louis would be XI. Jack and Lois had an action packed schedule for us with choices.
Starting on Thursday: Golf at the Bluffs or the Boone Home Tour and Chandler Hill Winery; ending the day with a BQ feast at the Eastlerings'; a little skeet shooting, time to catch-up over the last 18 months, a rousing Star Spangle Banner by a neighbor and after dinner entertainment by the OC2-70 Hallelujah Singers.
Friday another fun, fill, day: Gateway Arch; lunch on the Hill; dessert at the historic Route 66 Ted Drewes, frozen custard; Yummy! A Day Fresh Brewery Tour or Botanical Gardens; Cardinal game that evening.
Saturday we were on our own! Spences' schedule would be breakfast at Crepes. A leisurely walk to the St. Louis Basilica. After lunch Lynne would be shopping with Chris and CJ would check out the The Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park. With the Grand Finale, OC2-70 Saturday night dinner.
On the way to breakfast we stopped by the desk to check on cabs, and an early Sunday morning wake-up call. I was nervous about getting a cab at the hotel by 3:30am. Our travel agent, Lynne, weighed the pros and cons of an early flight home from St.Louis, the pros won. I do mean an early flight, 5:15am to Phoenix. But, we would be home by noon! A 3:30am cab would not be a problem.Next stop, Crepes. On our Friday after dinner stroll with the Callahans, Crepes looked like the place to have breakfast. We were intercepted at the door by Taylor, Vogelsang and Sims headed to the Cahokia Mounds, the largest Mounds in North America. I decided to tag along with the Mound Hunters. Lynne joined the Callahans, Cornwells and Storbecks for breakfast. Breakfast at Crepes turned into a Saturday morning OC2-70 highlight conservation. Remember the the old Alka Seltzer commercial, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!" Storbeck ate the "Whole-Thing!" The Whole-Thing being an enormous cinnamon roll. Storbeck's reasoning, he needed to carbo-load for his arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday.
After returning from the Cahokia Mounds, I decided to cross-off The Saint Louis Art Museum and headed to the St. Louis Basilica. I was totally impressed with all 41.5 million pieces of glass mosaic. On the way back to the hotel I walked by Gamlin Whiskey House and they were having a Kentucky Derby Day Party. Now, I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of the hats. The ladies and guys were in their Derby finest!
On the way to the room, I stop once again at the desk to check about a 3:30am taxi. By this time I'm on first name basis with these guys!
Lynne and Chris had a successfully shopping afternoon. The really good news, according to the shoppers, they had found a taxi driver who was more than happy to take the Spences to the airport at 3:30am! According to Lynne and Chris, the cab driver, Jeff, was not only the best taxi driver, ever; he was ex-military, 82nd Airborne, served in Korea and Vietnam; retired from the NYPD and moved to St. Louis two years ago to take care of his sister who was battling cancer. On top of all this he was voted best taxi driver in St. Louis!
As Lynne was telling this greatest cab driver, ever, story, I'm thinking, "Yeah, right!" She assured me that Jeff will be there at 3:30am. Not a problem. She had his card and number. Yeah, right!
The Chase Park Plaza Saturday night dinner set the tone for the rest of the evening. The big question, "Who's hosting our next OC2-70 reunion?" There had been very little talk on who wanted to host. When Storbeck opened the floor for nominations, Kanemoto stood up and three minutes later there were no doubts, Wayne and Amy would be hosting on The Big Island, Hawaii! Time for a quick group photo shoot and then some serious rocking and rolling! The band was loud and good. Lynne even got CJ on the dance floor with these tunes: Unchained Melody, You've Lost That lovin' Feelin', Soul and Inspiration; our favorite, Sittin On The Dock of The Bay!
It was a quick turn-around, from the dance floor to the desk lobby checking out, 3:15am. There was a cab waiting outside, but Lynne said, "No, that is not a Yellow Cab, that's not Jeff. You know what I was thinking! Another hiccup, the young man behind the desk was having trouble with our check-out. During this time, Lynne's phone rings, it's Jeff, and he is outside. I lost that bet! I got the look, "I told you so!" Jeff is a big guy, massive hands, with a bigger smile. For the next 30 minutes it is a non-stop conversation: military; Korea, Vietnam, NYPD, Soul Music, The Mayweather/Pacquiao Fight, The Temptations, they they had style, none of that levi/tee shirt crap; Jersey Boys? It was a quick, fun 30-minute ride. I jumped out to help Jeff unload the luggage, I got the look and "Don't even think-it!" After unloading our luggage and sitting the suitcases down in front of the door, I told Jeff, "Even at 70 you still have that Motown walk!" I went to shake his hand, when Jeff engulfed me with this massive bear-hug, and told Lynne, "You did good!"
Every time I think of that bear hug, it brings a smile!