Reunion brings longtime friends back togetherSeptember 3, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — “What are your favorite high school memories?”
When asked that question, some members of Jasper High School’s Class of 1948 could find a moment. Others struggled to remember a part of their lives that happened a lifetime ago.
Gin (Sermersheim) Messmer recalled going to movies and picnics on the weekends; Dorothy (Nalin) Wigand spoke of the intensity of being at a rivalry football game between the Wildcats and the Happy Hunters of Huntingburg High School.
Virginia (Berg) Schnellenberger loved her geometry and bookkeeping classes. Donald Vonderschmidt could remember songs that students used to chorus in celebration.
One woman reminisced on how she would walk more than a mile home from school for lunch. If it started raining during the trip, she would huddle inside Rumbach’s Grocery Store with friends and wait out the drizzle.
Some of the attendees — all in their late 80s — just smiled and shook their heads. They knew they were there, and they knew those who were there with them. They could remember the motions, but the memories had faded, worn away by the 71 years that passed between graduation and their Friday assembly at the Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper.
As the alumni caught up at the class’ reunion, however, that didn’t seem to matter. For the JHS Class of 1948, the recurring gatherings have long been a vehicle for reconnection and a sure way to share happiness with some of their closest friends.
“We remember the good times we had growing up together and ask for your help in making the way to you a peaceful one for the rest of us,” Messmer prayed before lunch was served at the event. “But Father, there’s no hurry.”
Following a couple hours of laughs, back pats and food, Messmer — who organized Friday’s event — stood from her chair and posed a question.
“Do you think we should have another reunion next year?”
The 11 class members in attendance hesitated a moment before answering. They know they are nearing the end. They have watched classmate after classmate pass away for years. Twenty-nine of the 104 graduates are still alive; four have died in the past year.
“Each year we keep losing a few more,” Messmer said.
At first, the class reunited every five years. Eventually, it became a three-year ritual. In recent years, it’s shifted to an annual occurrence.
And after more than seven decades of reunions, it seemed like Friday’s gathering would be the finale.
Several people wondered aloud if this would be the last time so many of the class members would be able to assemble. The room fell silent, as if to begin the mourning process of another piece of their long lives. In that moment, Dan Vonderheide spoke up.
“Let’s have at least one more,” he said.
More echoed his sentiment. And so while it’s still not been decided if the class will have a reunion in 2020, the door remains open.
Because even after all these years, the surviving members of the JHS Class of 1948 still love to spend time with each other.
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