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• 55th Reunion

From Sylvia Chase


Beside a mountain trail in spring, the Pacific horizon was still visible when a wide field of flowers caught my eye. It was waving with tiny blossoms known locally as “blue-eyed grass”. The rush of a spring-swollen creek could be heard in the distance. We hiked toward the sound.

Other days, fog swirls and retreats over the headlands north of the Golden Gate Bridge, clouds descend and then sweep away, leaving us astonished in dazzling sunshine. Far below, surf is churning. Our trekking poles clack along a path to the lighthouse.

From the table where I write, a mountain on which I walk with neighbors and friends, visiting guests and family can be seen in the distance through an open window. The waters of San Francisco Bay clap gently against the sea wall below. When hard winter storms blow, clap gives way to roar, to spume, gust and tide. Waves throw themselves at the sea wall, crashing over it and clattering down the street. Salty spray flies through the air, the furies howl under the boardwalk. Built on pier pilings, the house jumps and shudders. I think of Matthew Arnold’s “grating roar of pebbles” as told in the somber poem “Dover Beach”.  NHS seniors studied it. Who can forget the waterfall of fine words Miss Moynihan splashed upon our young ears more than a half century ago?

Soon, the physical gap between us will close on a weekend that celebrates the stubborn nobility of hometown folk who put an end to the Notorious Jesse James Gang’s predations. Even as the Raid Re-enactors ride out of town on the ring of their horses’ hooves, winter’s march will be gathering north of Canada. I am told that Northfielders no longer skate above the dam and winter is different, so they say. But I have a picture of that season in my mind that I feel sure you have seen, and probably more than once. It is as keen, as loved, as fateful and iconic as any I can conjure from my far-flung life: It was very cold in Minnesota, following a deep and quiet January snowfall. The sun had left the horizon set with clouds in black, grey, purple and gory red. From the crest of a hill where I stood, farm fields rose and stretched in stately undulation before me. Here and there a dark woods stood unyielding and black against vivid horizon and seamless snow. All was motionless, except for the fidgety, fading brightness between earth and sky. There, shifting hues clashed to catch the sun’s dying rays. At last, all was dark and then stars appeared. One by familiar other, they lit almost exactly in the places I had expected to see them such a short moment ago when I was just a little younger and a great deal less thoughtful.

So, that’s the news from all the little towns and heavens that live in my head. And with a plagiarist’s wink to Garrison Keillor, I will look for you at the Chatterbox Cafe and not, I hope, for the last time. Until then, I’m keeping a weather eye out for The Norwegian Bachelor Farmers and hoping it doesn’t rain at harvest time, which has a way of arriving when you least expect it.


• 50th Reunion

From Stan Frear

Carol, thank you for your kind card with the fine photo of yours truly holding forth. Your class has a way of observing special occasions like reunions with flare and careful planning. I feel honored to be included in the festivities as this marks the second Banquet and Pig Roast I have attended.

It is good to see those I seldom see and see again those I often see - those who still live in or near Northfield. As I said in my speech, I have spent most of my professional and personal life here. My children were born in Northfield, went to school and one to college here. My granddaughter went to elementary school here and I have a host of old and dear friends who are still in or near by.

I appreciate having the class directory and class notes, which are so carefully kept and distributed. It is one of the more important ties we have, our high school years when we were vulnerable, still young and still learning what it's all about. I did enjoy my fifteen years of secondary school teaching but also my 24 years at St. Olaf, which set the direction for my professional life.

The reunion stimulated me to start watercolor painting again, something I have not done since my wife's death four years ago. The reunion was a stimulus to get out the paints and finish two watercolors of the North Shore, a favorite subject. Thanks for getting the creative juices flowing again, there's life in the old boy yet.

My very best to you and I look forward to other class notes as they become available.

- Stan