Reunion Memory
by Jim Butler

Well, it's over, and from all reports, onsite and via e-mail, it was a tremendous success! The registration desk opened on the convention floor of Hotel Gander at 10:30 am and continued until 4:30 pm. The Meet & Greet was crowded when I arrived there at 7:00 pm. It seemed that people were eager to "meet and greet"!

I had a little trouble with the slide show that night, but Wilson Hoffe and his wife bailed me out and we ran the show from his laptop. For the Newfie Night, on Friday evening, thanks to a rep from the Salvation Army, it was up and running early. And it attracted a crowd.

The Silent Auction went well. There were over 50 items up for bids and raised over $2500 to be shared equally between a special project for Gander Academy and the Aviation Museum.

Friday morning started with a tee-off time of 7:00 am for the golfers, and ending at the Gander Golf Clubhouse for lunch. One highlight of the golfing was Wilf Green's "hole-in-one" on the par 5 eighteenth hole! Actually it was a great third shot from about 150 yards to the green and into the cup! Congratulations Wilf.

The Newfie Night commenced at 8:00 pm and we were entertained first by Ross Goldsworthy and, later by Eddie Yetman and the Drop-Outs! What can I say about Ross! He was fabulous! After taking on an authentic Newfoundland accent, he entertained the crowd for almost an hour with story after funny story about Newfoundland sayings and situations. He ended with his helarious story of Cinderfella. When he finished everyone gave him a standing ovation! Congratulation Ross and thank you!

Ed (better known to me and a lot of other people as Eddie) Yetman and his group, consisting of Dora (Butt) Hickey and Mike Yetman, entertained with songs and lead a singsong with everyone joining in. BTW, Eddie, wrote a song for the reunion and I have his permission to put it on our website in Real Audio format, so you can listen to it.

Vern Grantham (Mingo), that's Audrey's husband did an excellent job and also contributed his talents to entertaining the receptive crowd.

The night was complete with a variety of Newfie food including smoked caplin, balogna, hard tack, lassy buns, etc. We had a great time!

Saturday morning many registrants went on a bus tour of the Gander area. The tour included visits to the Silent Witness Memorial, the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the Old airport sites of American, Canadian and Army Sides and the old terminal at the RAF. One bus went on a side trip to Deadman's Pond and then on a quick tour of a new section of the town of Gander. The tours were led by Dave Hanrahan and Peter Blackie and both were interesting and informative tour guides. Congratulations!

The highlight of the reunion started at 6:30 pm. The banquet was an excellent buffet and was followed by entertaining talks by Principal Roland Clarke and Peter Blackie. It banquet part closed with Jim Butler and Roy Sceviour extending their thanks to all those involved in the organizing and running of the reunion.

Faye (Lewis) Raynard asked that everyone sign a tablecloth that she had in the hall outside the banquet room. I won't tell you way that was done, but if you look at our website later in the week, you may find out why!

The dance began at about 10:30 pm after a flurry of picture taking on the stairs outside the banquet room. Here all the classes from 1948 to 1963 posed with the reunion sign for photographs. Those, too, we hope to have on the website later in the week. The DJ for the evening provided all the great music of the 1940 to 60s, with a smattering of Newfie music in between, until the wee hours of the morning. At 2:10 am he told us that this was definitely the last tune and that he was shutting down so we could go home!

At 10:30 am Sunday morning a solomn service was held in memory of the many students and staff who had passed away during and since our time at the Gander schools. The service was ogranized by Rev. Marion Pardy and Rev. Bill Noel, both students of the 1958 graduating class of Gander Academy. The service included the reading of the names of the deceased, with candles being lit to represent each group and one for those unnamed and anyone known to individuals and not part of the school reunion.

After an excellent brunch provided by the kitchen staff of Hotel Gander and some other photo ops for teachers of Hunt Memorial Academy and the organizing committee, we said our goodbyes. This part of the reunion was most emotional and there was hardly a dry eye in the room, as old classmates repeatedly said goodbyes. No one seemed to want to leave.

All the best and thank you very much for coming!

for The Flight Reunion Committee
August 30, 2005