Our Eastgate Catamaran Cruise….

Last Thursday we had our 2nd Catamaran Cruise on Southern Wave. I scheduled one for the end of January. It was so popular, all 40 of the spots were taken in a short time. So we scheduled another for Valentines Day. Ron and Theresa headed up the first one. Their son Jeff was here on vacation and was suppose to go. The winds kicked up to 50 mph+, so we postponed it for 2 weeks. It sailed last week and they had a WONDERFUL TIME. Now it was our turn.

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Port Isabel in the distance and the Causeway bridge that crosses to the Island

Its about a 45 minute trip down to the island, so I usually schedule at least one and a half hour to meet and leave. Its nice to get their early, not at the last minute. Some people know where their going, and some do not. So I copy Google maps for everyone with the address of Longboard Bar and Grill. It certainly helps…..After checking off all 40 people, and everyone who was carpooling, off we went to the Island.

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We all arrived with a half hour to spare. I checked them all off and paid the bill. We got a great rate of $32. $3 of it was for tips. Finally it was time to board. Rich and I went in front. Their were benches all around the front. In the center was a table were the food would be brought. Either side was the netting that you could lay or sit on if you wanted. In this area you could gather all the sunshine you could want on a sunny day.

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In the center of the boat, their was a more sunken area under a canopy. It had many benches with a table for serving food in the center also. The very back of the boat was raised and the cook had an area for his grill with a canopy over head. Their were several seats their also for a few people. We had all 40 onboard placed comfortable around the Catamaran.

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The cook is grilling our shrimp appetizers and beef and chicken Fajitas

We finally cast off our lines and headed out. It was about 75 degrees or warmer and a cloudy day. But it looked promising that the sun would come out. The boat just slowly cruised near the shore and we could see all the beautiful homes, condos, and restaurants along the shore.

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Causeway Bridge on the horizon

These are views you never see from the land. These homes are in private areas that are off the main drag. Also I need to mention that we were in the Laguna Madre, the bay area of the island, certainly not the Gulf side. It would be far to windy out their.

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As we slowly cruised along, a girl sang songs and played guitar. It was so relaxing. You would view the homes imagining spending a summer sitting on the gorgeous decks, watching the sunsets at nite, swimming in the pools…...Ahhhhh……so relaxing....all the while, the music played in the background.

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Very soon, the girl deck hand brought around a tray of Butterscotch Snapps shots…..Ohhhh Yum…..Now I’m not a drinker, but those were so good…..Next she brought out a tray of grilled shrimp. I had one and the flavor was excellent, barbeque with a little kick, but I’m just not a shrimp lover. I’m not fond of the texture when you bite into it.

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Grilled Shrimp

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It doesn’t look like much here, but the dish was deep. It fed all of us in the front, with left overs.

Finally the main course came……What a spread. Corn and Flour Tortillas, beef and chicken, pepper, onions, tomatoes, cheese sourcream, amazing. Everything for Fajitas. We certainly filled up on that. The boat was very sturdy. We even walked across the netting to make our plates. The hardest part I found was to hold your plate in the breeze. The food was wonderful. Finally we were near the end of the homes along the shore.

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The boat turned into an inlet. It was so cool to see all the homes and some business. Many were still closed for the season. They will start opening soon when Spring Break comes and then summer. A few people were their sitting on their balcony’s and decks enjoying the view. We all waved back and forth to. We turned around and came back out, now facing the wind.

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Now the Deck hand girl brought out a Beautiful plate of mixed fruit cut in bite size pieces. Honey Dew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Pineapple, Strawberry’s, and Grapes…..Just Awesome…..

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Now we turned into another inlet. It is amazing to see how large these inlets are. It branched off in several areas like a highway. As we made it to the end, we seen a hotel we had stayed at in the past. We knew it was on an inlet, but had no idea how intricate it was. Finally, we turned around and returned back to the bay area. Again it became windy.

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Everyone was just enjoying the scenery, the sea gulls, the wind blowing through your hair, the sun that finally came out, and above all….friendship….

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On our way back, we seen 3 Wind Surfers. It was so cool to see them out their, just flying across the water in the wind. They went really fast to. I’m sure the wind was in their favor that day. They made it look so easy to just jump up on their board, hold their sail and take off in the wind. If only I was younger……and thinner….lol…

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Hard to see, but this condo had an Infinity Pool

We floated back past all the homes and condos. Many with pools and even seen 2 with Infinity pools. You could see the water gently cascading over the edge. We passed many boat docks, another Catamaran, Laguna Bobs, which is a great bar and entertainment club. Next was Louies Backyard.

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It is a huge restaurant with large patio areas, indoor dinning and a bar. They offer a rather extensive menu and entertainment. Its one of the Islands favorite places to go. Finally we arrived back at Longboard Bar and Grill. We docked and had to leave this beautiful Catamaran. They had 2 more trips to prepare for that day. Everyone had such a good time. Definitely a great trip worth every dime….

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Longboard Bar and Grill was just purchased this past summer and is remodeling. They have made vast improvements, and is continuing to do so. The have an indoor area as well as a vast outdoor area, filled with several layers of decks filled with tables and chairs. Their is an outdoor horse shoe bar to service everyone, and also a gorgeous stage out by the water for their everyday entertainment.

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The Southern Wave Catamaran docks at the edge of the patio. The new owners are really making it a great place to come and spend the afternoon or evening for fun, food and entertainment.

Longboard Bar and Grill in the Evening….

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Winter……So Glad I’m South…

Today was a rainy chilly day.  A cold front came through yesterday and dropped our 80 degree weather down to the low 40s last nite.  Today is only the high of 49.  For us that’s rather cold.  Winter coat weather.  “Brrrrrrrr”.    The weather has been hard to predict this winter.  We would have cold days and then it would heat up to gorgeous days.  But we have had more than the normal of chilly days.  FB_IMG_1549751855665.jpg

Back home in Illinois and the whole north has had very bad record breaking weather.  The snow storm dropped a record breaking amount of snow,  I believe 10″ at home.  Then a week or 2 later the temperature dropped to an all time low.  -25 degrees.…..FB_IMG_1549752368218.jpg

Now that is so so cold.  In a 2 week period the kids only went to school several days.  Most all the business’s were closed.  Even the Putnam County Court house where Tina works.  Many of the Post Offices were letting their postmen even stay home on the very coldest day.  Cameron, who drives semi from the gravel pit also did not work.  Tammy, of course, being a Nurse had to work.  She drove in to Peoria which is 45 mins away.  I thought she should have just stayed there.  Would have been so much easier.  I just can’t imagine cars even starting at -25 degrees.  The only places that worked were a few of the DC’s in the area…..Of Course my Former Employer was open..….Advantage Logistics….  I’m sure everyone was expected to try to make it to work…..“Really”…..They preach about safety, but they want you to risk your life just to come to work.  If you break down on the road, the time for frostbite at -25, is a very few minutes…..No one should be out in that weather unless it is an emergency.  Is it really worth risking your life?  Is it really that important that the trucks at the DCs are loaded just so the retail stores get their product?  I sure don’t think so…….But they push their employees by making them feel guilty or giving points for absenteeism for not coming in.  The people fear loosing their jobs, especially the ones with families.   I guess that’s why I am retired now.  My attitude towards life has changed.  No Longer do we fear that Corporate attitude that they brainwash you with when your younger.  Were some of the few who have been able to retire and enjoy life after work………lol…..FB_IMG_1549752479359.jpg

This is what you see on the highways.  Its really a scary and unsafe place to be in a storm. They had so much snow and wind, that the roads were so drifted the plows couldn’t keep up.

Our Heroes are the Policemen, Firemen, Ambulance Personnel and the Highway workers.  They have to be out their in full force just to take care of people who are out their.  They all risk their lives for us all.  The Hospitals must have a medical staff to take care of their patients’.  Doctors and nurses risk their lives to go to work.  Then their are the ones like my Son in Law Ed.  They work for a company that has to maintain their plants in order to keep them operational.  It is risky but necessary to keep them up and running.   These are our HEROS…...We owe them all if nothing else…..A HEART FELT THANK YOU”……For doing their daily job….FB_IMG_1549751893612.jpg

This was just west of Spring Valley on Rt. 6..…After its plowed, you can see how deep the drifts were.   I’m just glad I’m not their.  The temperature has now warmed up to a balmy 25.  So the worst is over for them.

Here at the Park we’ve been busy.  Winterfest Music Festival was held at Schlitterbahn in Jan.  Rich and I went down to South Padre Island and stayed over nite at the hotel.  We attended The “ABBAFAB” Dinner Show the nite before.20190129_210114.jpg

They are an ABBA Tribute Group…  They sang a great “Dancing Queen”.   Very talented.  The little blonde singer was the 4th runner up in American Idol the year Jordan Sparks won.  The next day was the Winterfest Music Festival.  They had groups playing all day with 45 minute time slots.  This was our Favorite.20190130_145709.jpg

Lobo Del Mar is a huge family group.  Mostly men play instruments and sing.  Some dress in kilts.  They play the Scottish bag pipes.  Now the girls are beautiful dancers.  They have lived all over the world including Hawaii and have incorporated all the different types of music into their repertoire.  Now they live on the island and have bought a restaurant.  We intend on going soon.  After listening most of the day, we decided to leave it was really getting chilly with the wind coming in off of the gulf. 20190203_172237.jpg

The following Sunday was the Super Bowl.  Now I know nothing about football.  I wanted teams to win according to color.  It is easier to decorate that way.  So 2 blue teams won.  …….Bummer...…So I hung balloons from the ceiling in the blue, white, yellow, and red colors.  I used plastic table cloths cut in 4s for table runners.  I asked for empty water bottles and received 58 in one day.  I bought 8 lbs of Pinto Beans and filled each bottle with 1/3 cup of beans.  Taped a strip of blue construction paper around the middle and decorated the tops in curly ribbon in yellow and red.  We scattered them around the tables and they were used for noise makers.   …..And they did use them…..

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Rich cooked 6 pork shoulder butts and made pulled pork.  We also supplied little weinies, and nachos and cheese.20190203_165244.jpg

Of course we always have shrimp.  Its nice to provide a luxury item.  We usually get 10 lbs of fresh frozen shrimp.  Its all gone by the end of the nite. 20190203_165308.jpg

Also of course veggies and dip, cheese and crackers and…… a half barrel of beer……I also went out and collected 32 items for door prizes. 20190203_165511.jpg

The 1st prize was donated by the owner.  It was a collapsible canvas wagon and 2 bag chairs.  The rest were many restaurant gift coupons, South Padre Boat tickets, and many other things.  All the food was provided by the owner also…..They all had a good time except they weren’t happy about who won….but….That’s out of our control.…Thur we have a Catamaran trip down at the Island scheduled.  It is a 2 hour cruise.  It includes Butterscotch Snapps, Shrimp appetizers, shrimp, beef, and chicken fajita’s, and fruit plates.  They cook on the Catamaran, and a musician is softly playing background music.  So far the weather is looking like 83 degrees……

…….Hoping It Stays Warm for the Trip…….

Illinois Poem

 

 

 

Trip to New Braunfels to See Scott and Brandy

Several weeks ago, we took a trip up to New Braunfels Tx. Its about 4 hours north. Scott has a time share and had to use his points up or loose them. He decided to book a 3 bedroom unit in New Braunfels in hopes some of the family could get together. We have a niece and her family living their. He had hopes that us and maybe some of Mistys family could all get together. But unfortunately nobody could come but us. School was back in session and everyone was back to work. Scott and Brandy close the bar after the first of the year for 2 weeks so that was the only time to book it. So we went on up and met them and had a very nice time.

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The condo was actually in Gruene right along the Guadalupe River. It is a beautiful river that is actually 230 miles long emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The lower part of the river empties out of the Canyon Dam north of New Braunfels.

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It is full of rapids and some fast moving water at points. It wraps around a very forested area with winding roads and some cabins, fishing areas and restaurants. It is a prime area for fly fishing, kayaking, and tubing. It is just gorgeous. Along the river is Gruene, which is a very cool little touristy area. It is full of antique shops, restaurants, and cafes, and little gift shops.

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This is a beautiful Mansion made into a Bed and Breakfast. Also standing high above the river was the Gruene Town Hall.

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Gruene Hall, built in 1878, is Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall. By design, not much has physically changed since the Hall was first built. The 6,000 square foot dance hall with a high pitched tin roof still has the original layout with side flaps for open air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage in the back and a huge outdoor garden. Advertisement signs from the 1930s and 40s still hang in the old hall and around the stage.

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The interior if very rustic and old and so unique. It is still used for name band entertainment. If you look up on Wikipedia, or their website you will find many many famous singers and entertainers who have played their through the years.

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So we met Scott and Brandy at the Condo and checked. It was a beautiful rustic cedar décor.

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The condo had a master bedroom down stairs with full bath and 2 bedrooms up. It also had a full size washer and dryer which is really convenient. A very nice large kitchen and dinning, living room combo.

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Very nicely decorated with tile and carpeted floors. So we all settled in and immediately made plans to head to San Antonio for the River Walk. Brandy found out it was the last nite of the lights. Misty, Mark, and the kids came by for a short time, and we decided to get together the next day. We have been to the River Walk before several times, but Scott and Brandy has not. We found a place to park and walked down to the River. It is so beautiful. The strings of lights were cascading down all the trees in beautiful colors. They are on just for the Christmas season.

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The walkways were still full of people. We walked a bit and ended up at Rainforest Café for Dinner. After that we went to look for the piano bar, “Howl With the Moon”. We finally found it and got in line to pay cover charge. Wow, who did I see!!!!!! A girl that had worked at Cinemark in Harlingen. Kay was checking IDs, and collecting cover charges. It was so good to see her. She moved up to the BIG CITY life. She took us and stamped our hands, …..NO COVER CHARGE…..”Thank You Kay”. The bar was so full, we went out to the patio.

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It was a little chilly so they had their big overhead heaters on. We could watch the Boat Tours floating by from the balcony.

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They had lights around the perimeter of the boats that just glowed in the water. So pretty. Finally we left the River Walk area. Up on the streets were the beautiful carriages that were for rent. One could take a romantic carriage ride and see the magical streets of San Antonio at nite.

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The horses were so pretty . Their manes were combed, and decorated along with headdresses. We headed home and off to bed. The next morning we had an uninvited guest. Rich and I had been in the kitchen walking around and didn’t notice this….lol..

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OMG. Brandy came down and seen the Scorpion in the middle of the kitchen floor. He wasn’t dead but almost. Rich must have stepped on his tail in his stocking feet. Yuck...Misty, Mark, and the kids came over, and we grilled outside. The next morning, it was time to leave. We had to be back at the park the next day. They were staying till Wed. then on to Pensacola to see Brandy’s mom and brother. They wanted to be home by Sunday....Really.…I seemed to me that was pushing it…..But when they drive, they don’t stop…..Their young, they can do that…..So in their 10 day vacation, they partied in Austin Tx, New Braunfels, New Orleans, Pensacola, and then a friends in Tennessee on the way home. To much traveling for me at a fast pace. Before we left New Braunfels, Rich had found an In-N-Out Burger. Now we have never been to one but Ron and Theresa love them. It has been an ongoing joke about them. So we decided to stop and get them each a sandwich and high tail it 4 hours back home. The menu was rather simple.

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The decorating was rather cute and different, with red Palm Trees. On the way out their was a sign in the windows. They were hiring ….

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Wow, look at the pay……$12 an hour…..Now that’s pretty good….I posted on FB, “Look at the pay, …Think well head north and get new jobs…..I can take orders and Rich can flip burgers”.....It was a joke folks….lol...Do you know how many people believed me!!!…The next week, I had people coming in asking me….Its not true is it? Are you leaving....NO, IT WAS A JOKE….We pulled in and delivered our In-N-Out Burgers…..Ron and Theresa were so happy and Very Surprised. They loved them even cold.

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So Another Great Week and a Wonderful visit with Scott and Brandy. Thanks for the Condo, food and the good company…..It was really fun……See you in the summer.

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The Year 2018 is Over….On To 2019

The years are going by faster and faster.  We have just finished up our 4th year of retirement, and also our 4th year of Workamping at Eastgate in Harlingen.  It is a great place to work.  The park is full of wonderful friendly people.  I remember when we first started this, I felt like we were on vacation and it would soon be time to go home and back to work.  At some point I lost that feeling.  Now it is just a good feeling to know that type of working will never happen again.  What a great feeling knowing you NEVER, NEVER, have to put in 40 hours of work again.  Especially if your not happy with your job.  Now the job as Activity Director is lots of fun.  I am pretty much my own boss.  Its so nice to do something that people enjoy and appreciate what you are doing.  Rich also sets his own hours.   Some times he plays men’s pool in the mornings.  Now we are half way through our 5th season.  So the year of 2018 was another good year of firsts and fun times.31689298_1821420474546169_2787616117940551680_o

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After the season was finished last April, we did a Cruise.  That was an item on our bucket list.  We boarded in Galveston and did a 7 day cruise on Royal Caribbean.   Ron, our new manager is also a Tour Director on the side.  He found a great cruise for us all to go on.  We went, Ron and Theresa and 4 couples from their hometown in Nebraska.  We sailed to Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel.  The day before we were to arrive in Roatan, another Cruise ship rammed into the docks and destroyed it…..Bummer…..So we didn’t get to port their.  But all in all it was a great trip….We surely will do another one in the future.   We went back home in May and worked Summer Camp again.PRC6490-Edit_Photo-Credit-Keith-Griner_

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It is always fun to people watch and listen to the music.  We were Security Guards again for the 2nd year.  We still carry our Texas Security License Level 2.  That is always a wild and crazy week, but its also a fun way to see the Music fest and get paid for it also.

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While we were home, we also celebrated 2 Graduations.  Cassidy graduated 8th grade and Carly graduated Kindergarten Carly had a really cute Graduation ceremony in Granville.  We celebrated with Tammy having a picnic.20180604_164512.jpg

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Dee Dee’s 1st Birthday

We also got to meet our new Grand Dog, Dee Dee.  She is a Goldendoodle.  She is smaller than Dexter was and a very different personality.  But that is a good thing.  She will develop as her own self.  She was a year this past fall and they had a First Birthday for her.  She even had her own cake……She is loved just as much as Dexter had been.

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Tina and Ed bought a new camper this year.  They all go to Wisconsin for family fishing trips with Ed’s Dad and family.  Now they are going camping more often.  Their having a lot of fun with it.FB_IMG_1548382150177.jpg

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Tammy has her own type  of camping.  She loves tent camping and ruffing it.  She found a small pull trailer and painted it red to match her Jeep.  She packs it all up with her tent and all her supplies, including blow up kayaks.

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Carly 7

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Austin 8

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Miley 10

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Cassidy 14

Carly turned 6 last January and just now turned 7, Cassidy was 14 in March, and Cameron was 20 in June.  In November, Miley turned 10 and Austin was 8.  They are all growing up fast.20190124_204922.jpg

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Carly, Austin and Miley all go to the same school system now.  Tina has Carly a lot because of Tammy, her mom’s work schedule at the hospital.  They all took some cute school pictures. Cameron is now working full time and learning about life and what it cost to live, and to buy the things you want…or need. Soon he will be 21…..Wow how the years have gone by. He was born the year I started at Advantage Logistics. IMG_4368

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Class of 1968, Toluca High School, Toluca Illinois

Labor Day we had my 50 Class Reunion Can you imagine that?  We drove back and met in Toluca Illinois at Mona’s Italian Restaurant.   It is definitely a landmark to attend a 50th.  The majority of our classmates are still alive.  We have only lost 4.  It was good to see them all.  Some of them I hadn’t seen since we graduated in 1968,  The next day we took Carly and Cassidy to the Carnival in Toluca.  That is the traditional time that they Celebrate since I was a child.  So many memories of the carnivals and the parades through the years growing up.  The girls had fun on the rides, and of course theirs always the carny food. 20180903_152702.jpg

Rich stayed in McNabb at Scotts and Brandy’s and worked the Harvest season.  This year he work out of the elevator, hauling to the river and the Ethanol plant.   Scott started his own project last fall.  He had no outside buildings so he finally built a pole barn.

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It is a nice large shed to house his semi when necessary and all his toys.  Rich was able to help some while he was their.  He enjoyed watching it go up.  Scott put in hot water heat under the concrete floor. FB_IMG_1548386177512.jpg

It required tubes looped on the base of the floor so far apart.  They had to be tied off under and over to the grids.  The ends all ran to a center manifold where the water will be heated.  Rich helped Scott do this just before he left for Texas. FB_IMG_1548386181072.jpg

Scott was finally able to pour the concrete.  Our nephew from Chillicothe, Jonathan has a crew that does this.  So they all came up and did the pour.  Finally at Christmas it was dry enough to park on.  Well its a good thing, because the weather has turned bad.  He has parked almost everything in it that he could just so he wouldn’t have to clean the ice and snow off the windows…….not the tandem, no room for it….but all the rest of the toys.  Here is a before picture and an after picture…

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Before

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After

Something tells me he wish’s it was bigger.  Now Brandy can park in the house garage for the first time in 8 years.  

So Rich finally returned back down to Tx and our season started at the park.  Lots of planning began.  We had taken on the Entertainment this year.  We have a Show every Friday nite.  We went to 2 Showcases last January to pick out our performers.  Now it is checking with each one to make sure we are all on the same page.  Making sure we get all our posters for advertising in the park.  Also getting all our schedules for Entertainment, Dances, and Church Services sent in to all the papers.  It is more work than I thought, but we are having fun.  We asked Ron and Theresa to help, so Rich and Ron sell popcorn, soda, water, and Ice Cream bars.  We also added Dreamcycles.  Theresa and I sell tickets at the door.  So it has been a learning curve to accomplish all this in a timely manner and also count all the money and figure up their percent and pay them before they leave.  It is a good time seeing all the talent that comes down from Nashville, and Branson areas.  They do the Winter Texan, Rio Grande Circuit for 1 to 3 months putting on a show up to 5 and 6 times a week.

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This is one of the Performers we booked….“Lawless and Mae”….They were such an amazing couple.  So friendly and down to earth…Just regular folk.  Ohhhh how talented.  They are from Nashville and are also recording artists.  They stayed 2 nites, had breakfast at the hall Saturday morning and sang at the church services Sunday morning.  They were so nice and are really enjoying the Rio Grande Valley.  Many of these performers leave the north because of the winter.  Branson pretty much shuts down.  They all go to Florida, Arizona or Texas. 

2018 is now over and we are pushing forward in 2019.

…….Another good Year……

I’ve Been Slackin………lol

I’ve been away from this blog WAY, Way way …to long…..So What’s Happening here at Eastgate Rv & Mh  Park.    Our Winter Texan season began officially November 1.  It is also the beginning of our 5th season here at the park.  Wow, how time has flown.  Just imagine…..5 years since we left the regular work life of 9 to 5 and retired.  We left Illinois and arrived here our first season on Dec 1 2014.  I worked in the office and Rich in maintenance.  I now have been Event Coordinator….fancy name for Activity Director, …..lol…. since the winter season of November 2015….This is a busy but fun job.  I plan all the outside activities as well as keep the activities with in the park on a schedule.  Our first Holiday was Veterans Day.  We offer all the Vets free breakfasts.  Then we have a short program, and our 2 little girls that have been coming for 3 years, sing for us.  Launa 6, and Pearl 4, sing solos, and handed out a copy of a Veterans Poem.  This year they brought cupcakes for the Veterans.  They are so precious.  They usually sing God Bless America and Our National Anthem.received_2217440528532628-1.jpeg

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We also have had Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners, serving around 120 people.  The Wednesday before Christmas we hold a Golf Cart Christmas Parade.  Golf Carts are decorated up with lights and decorations.  Santa was on a float this year.  They parade around the park and even threw out candy.  They end up back at the hall and we have free ice cream and sit with Santa if the so desire….lol….A great evening of fun.20181219_183818.jpg

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Also during the Christmas season, we enjoyed the Sam Houston Elementary School Choir.  Around 50 kids came and sang Christmas Carols.  Now it wouldn’t be Christmas with out Santa showing up.   The kids were really surprised.  Santa gave each one a bag with 2 cookies, 2 pencils, 2 erasers, and a chocolate as they filed back out to the bus.  Its so nice to see kids in the park….(sometimes….lol…).20181213_102428.jpg

But what Rich and I will have fun with this year is Entertainment.  We volunteered last year to take on Friday Night Entertainment.  We went to the 2 Showcases and picked out our Entertainers for this year.  We have to sign them to a contract for the date, time, ticket price, and Percent.  Our shows began the first Friday of December.20190102_184900.jpg

Our first performer was The Castaway.  Do you remember way back in the 60s?   The group was “The Castaways”,  they sang beach type music.  Their claim to fame was “Liar Liar”.   Well now it is just Dennis,  so he is just The Castaway.  lol.  But he is awesome.  He brings a Beach Hut Umbrella,  and has numerous drums including a steel kettle drum.  He also brought a fellow drummer along.  They did a FANTASTIC version of “WIPE OUT”.…I think we all know that one.  Ohhhhh could he play the drums along with his drummer.  Our next entertainer was Janelle.  She is from Rockport Tx, trying to break into the Valley.  She has a beautiful voice and could really sing.  We will now continue our Entertainers this Friday with the Nashville Recording Artist, “Lawless and Mae”  They have been voted favorite “Country Duo of the Year”.  It will be a really fun evening.received_228318288060948.jpeg

We also have our friends Ron and Theresa (Park Managers) help us.  Theresa and I take care of tickets sales, and Rich and Ron run the Concessions.  Theresa’s daughter has a T Shirt business, so Theresa designed these really cool shirts for us to wear.20190103_112243.jpg

Our good friends from Canada, Kathy and Glen have decided to sell everything and head back to Canada.  For the Canadians, it is very expensive for them to come down.  Their Health Insurance is free when they are in the country.  We they leave, they have to purchase it.  It can cost several thousands of dollars for each, for a winter season.  Glen and Kathy both some health issues so they decided it was best to sell their fifth wheel and maybe come back in several years in hopes that things were better.  They have been here for 4 years every winter season.  We were all neighbors.  They always had Happy Hours, not just at 4 pm but anytime of the day.  Needed a drink or company???  Go to Kathy and Glen.…They’ll fix you up.  Always good times on Kathy and Glens pad……We all went to Mexico for one last time.20181124_120459.jpg

Rich and them decided to get 1 last tattoo together.  So we all went down the narrow alley like hall to the Tattoo shop.  Glen picked a neat one.

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It is really a good choice as Glen is full blooded Indian.

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Now Kathy fell in love with the 2 Palm Trees making a heart.   My favorite though is the one on her upper arm….

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Rich chose another Skeleton.  His has a lot of color in it.  They were fast.  We were probably only in their a little over an hour.  I don’t do tattoos…..I’m not a lover of pain.….lol….By then we were all hungry so we ate a Angels.  It is restaurant on the top floor of a building, right in the middle of Progresso Mexico.  They have a musician playing the keyboard for background music.20181124_145336.jpg

Looking out the window, we are around 4 stories up.  You can see the main street of town.  This is actually one of the main intersections.  It is always so congested.  Its a free for all on the streets.  You drive slowly as cars just pull out in front of you.  This is the line backed up to the bridge waiting to cross back over.  See all the little street vendors,….They are lined up on both sides of the main street.20181124_144655.jpg

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This is looking towards the bridge over the Rio Grande River.  It is the official border of US and Mexico.  You can see the Mexican customs booths.  It was waiting in line traffic that day.  When we finally got in line, it was a 2 hour wait to get across the bridge to American Customs booth.  Obviously their is no worries here in Progresso about the Caravan.   Their is also no Mexican Military presence either.  Their are armed guards at the gates sometimes and a vehicle or 2 near the bridge, but no more than normal.   We seen more last year.  Occasionally several armed military Jeeps would drive down Main Street.  So far this year, none.20181118_154814.jpg

The only evidence we seen of tightening security is the gates they put up on the middle of the bridge.  Their are swing gates to close off the drive part of the bridge, and also swing gates under the canopy to close off the walkway of the bridge.  Nothing else……Business as usual…..We feel very safe here.  Even with all the hipe about safety, Cartel and the CaravanProgresso is still a safe town to cross over to shop.  We stay on the main street, and only drive around a block to turn around to come back.  The Americans are what makes the Economy of Progresso thrive.  The Winter Texans go over for Dentistry, and Pharmaceuticals.  Where else can you get a denture for $300-$500. The prices of their drugs are far less than in the Unites States.  You also need no prescription.  They also shop at all the many street vendors and stores for many interesting items that you can’t buy in the US.  But one of the Favorite things of the Winter Texans do is eat at their restaurants, listen to live entertainment and have a drink at a bar whether it is inside or street side.  It is such a different, fun atmosphere.  A whole different way of life.

We had one last fun nite with Kathy and Glen at Stefanos Italian Restaurant.  The were already attending Happy Hour all day that day when they decided to go out.

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This is what happens when  you take them to a public place.  They found Santa’s Sleigh and Kathy beheaded Rudolph. …… lol…...You just can’t take them anywhere!!!!!   So finally Kathy and Glen were off, back to Canada after selling everything.  It was sad to see them go, but hopefully with time they will be back.  We will ALL MISS THE GOOD TIMES…..SO So so Many Memories have been made…..

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Book Reviews: 3 Books of Anne Frank, Family, & Holocaust

Several weeks ago I attended the stage play of The Diary of Anne Frank in Harlingen at the Community Theatre. I read this book as a teenager, but had wanted to reread it. About a year ago I had downloaded it on my Kindle, but had neglected to read it. This play was an extraordinary production, which moved my soul and all those who attended. At that point I knew I would reread the book again. The Frank family were of the Jewish faith living in Vienna. Hitler came to power in 1933, and blamed the Jews for many of the country’s problems. He stepped up the persecution of the Jews and implemented a highly organized strategy of persecution, murder, and genocide aimed at ethnically “purifying” Germany. During the Holocaust, he was responsible for murdering 6,000,000 Jews (1.5 million of these being children) and the destruction of 5,000 Jewish communities. These deaths represented two-thirds of European Jews and one-third of all world Jews. He built Concentration Camps with Crematoriums, including the most famous Auschwitz. The Jews would arrive in trains of cattle cars and many would be marched in and gassed immediately. The Holocaust is one of the most notorious acts of genocide in modern history. Today the Holocaust is viewed as the emblematic manifestation of absolute evil.

Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam in The Netherlands from Vienna in 1933. He was trying to obtain Visa’s to leave Europe. His family and many others felt safe until 1942. The Germans invaded The Netherlands also as well as many country’s across Europe. After much planning, Otto took his family into hiding in the second and third floor rooms at the back of his Amsterdam company. During the next 2 years they would live together with 4 others, never to leave these rooms. Anne was given a Diary for her 13th Birthday just before they went into hiding. She was passionate about writing and wanted to eventually be an Author. Little did she know that some day her Diary would be published. The whole world would know her story. I also downloaded and read 2 more books to tell the story of Anne Frank and her family.

Book 1….. Anne Frank, The Diary Of a Young Girl

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This book is written in Diary form, starting with her first entries on her 13th Birthday, before they went into hiding. She describes her life as a 13 year old going to school and her family and friends. They went into hiding shortly after. During the next 2 years, Anne writes of their daily lives, sickness, food and hunger, her feelings, and loneliness. She describes her inner heart and soul, and her body changes as she matures into puberty. Their are so many daily struggles to just survive, and not be caught. They cannot move during the day because of the business down stairs. No running of water, and no flushing of the toilet during the day. Only a handful of workers downstairs know they are their. After business hours, they can then move around, fix their meals and visit. Their caretakers deliver food and all their needs daily. They enter the upstairs by sliding the bookcase from over the hidden stairway.

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In those 2 years, Anne develops from a 13 year old young girl to a 15 year old wise in maturity. Her thoughts and desires as she writes them down are of a grown women. She struggles with getting along with her mom as many teens do. The whole family and the 4 others in the house struggle also with the daily life of being together. They watch the trees change from season to season behind the blackout curtains. Meip Gies, one of the caretakers visits them daily and gives them the news of the war. They have so many hopes that Hitler and Germany will be defeated soon. They dream about their future after the war is over. During this time Anne’s thought processes become so deep, so intimate. She is such an intelligent girl. The last entry into the diary is just before the Nazi troops arrived. In August of 1944, they were taken into custody. The were taken into a camp in Holland for awhile. Unfortunately, they were put on the last train back into Germany. They were then split up. The sisters stayed together and went to Auschwitz, then Bergen-Belson. They both died of Typhus in March 1945, just before the Liberation. Edith also died as well as all the other 4, including Peter her teenage friend, hiding in their building. Otto was the only survivor. He returned to Amsterdam. After confirming that Anne was not coming back, Meip Gies, gave the diary to Otto. After the Nazi troops had taken the family that day, Meip went upstairs and found the diary and saved it for Anne, for when she returned. Anne had spoken many times about wanting to be an author. Otto took this diary, although heartbroken and started editing it for publication. The original version was altered. He took out some of the entries of the description of her changing body. He also took out some of the passages of Anne not getting along with her mother. He felt they were just to personal at that time. The first book was published in 1947. Eventually it was published in over 67 different languages. After Otto’s death in 1980, the book was republished and some of the original passages reinserted. This book has been made into stage plays and films. In 1960, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam became a Museum under the guidance of Otto Frank.

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Anne Frank Museum…The sight of the Hidden Annex

The Diary of Anne Frank remains one of the most moving and widely read firsthand accounts of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust. On Feb 3 1944 she wrote ” I’ve reached the point where I hardly care if I live or die, The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway”. She reached so many points of despair. But then on April 5 1944 she wrote ” When I write, I can shake off all my cares”. Anne’s diary is a story of faith, hope and love in the face of hate.

Book 2……Anne Frank Remembered, The Story of the Woman Who Helped Hide the Frank Family…..By Miep Gies

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This book is written by Miep Gies. She was an employee of the business. This gives you the perspective of what was happening on the outside of the staircase. Meip explains her history and how she managed to evade the Nazis. After she married her husband Jan, she become a trusted employee and friend who was in the confidence of Otto Frank and a few others. She tells of how the few office workers protected and fed the 8 people upstairs. Those helping, each had specific duties including her husband. Hers was to grocery shop. She would visit the shops daily being careful to not draw attention. As food became more scarce, she would start to travel farther on her bicycle. Finally she had to travel into the country and be back by curfew. All of this was under the terror of the Nazis as they watched. She would bring her food daily to the family’s upstairs and also news of the Nazi Occupation. She would supply them with library books and enroll them in correspondence classes, all under her name. She also became a friend of Anne, learning of her desires and needs. She grew very fond of her family upstairs. During this time, the business had to be run as normal every day. She tells of the day the Gestapo came. The earthshattering moments filled with terror. She was in the office and made to stay at her desk. She heard their footsteps as they were lead away through the halls and outside. Her husband hid outside and watched as they all were herded into the truck and drove away. To this day they never found out who told on the Franks. They believe it was someone from within the business. Their was a reward given for anyone giving information on the location of a Jew. For days they worked in terror, with their hearts broken, thinking the Gestapo would be back. Several of the workers were arrested also for helping hide them. Meip went upstairs and found the rooms had been ransacked. She found Anne’s Diary and pages that she wrote. strewn on the floor. They were all collected and hidden for when Anne came back. The following year, the Liberation began. The war was over. Hitler was dead. Otto returned to Amsterdam a broken and sick man. They found out everyone was dead including and Anne and Margot. They died of Typhus in Bergen-Belson just before the Liberation. Otto, upon reading the Diary, learned of a different girl than he knew. Her thoughts ran so deep at times. Exploring areas one would not have thought a 13 year old had went. It was a story he knew he had to share for his daughter. He started editing and vowed to Publish the book which was Anne’s hopes and desires. Miep’s story is a story filled with love of her family upstairs, her desire to help them and support them. The terror of the times and what it was like to try to just live your life under Nazi control, but to also give all you have and more, to risk your life for others.

Book 3……After Auschwitz, The Story of Heartbreak and Survival by the Step Sister of Anne Frank. By Eva Schloss

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Now this book really surprised me. This was a story I had never heard of before. So Anne had a Step Sister?…..So this is Eva’s Story…Eva grew up with her parents and her older brother. They also had left Germany and went to Amsterdam Holland to live. As children, Eva and Anne had attended the same school and played together. Eva had met Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank. Eva also went into hiding but not as a family. Her and her mother were given a room in an apartment in town. Her father and brother lived in the country. They did managed to visit several times. Their was some moving around as the places became to dangerous. They were finally turned in by the lady who was boarding her father and brother. She had been raising their rent again, and again, and finally turned them into the Nazis. The whole family was moved to Auschwitz. She was able to stay with her mother. Her father and brother was separated. They were close to death many times, but always seemed to get that break that allowed them to live. She tells of the horrible events and living conditions. It was strictly survival. Eva seen her father several times as he was marching past. They were able to talk a little. Eva and her mother survived until the Liberation of the Concentration Camps. They searched and searched but couldn’t find her father and brother. They found out they died later as the Germans marched them farther into Germany on the last days of the war. Eva and her mom finally returned to Amsterdam. It also was a long horrendous journey. On the way they ran into Otto Frank. He was thin, forlorn and very sad. When they returned, they went to a friends house and were welcomed with open arms. Days later, the door bell rang, and their was Otto Frank. His family was also friends of these people. Later, Eva and her mom went to their old apartment. It was still locked. Upon opening it, they found it just like they left it. Eva and her moved back in and eventually invited Otto to rent a room. For the next years, Eva’s mom became close to Otto, and helped him with Anne’s Diary. After it was published she went on to help him with correspondence. They started traveling and helped with the writing and direction of the stage plays and films. Eva eventually was married and started her family. A year later, in November 1953, Otto and Eva’s mother was married. They continued to live a very happy life together, working side by side with the Diary of Anne Frank. They traveled all over the world telling her story. Eva eventually started to attend lectures and talk about her story. It became a healing process for her. She had never talked about the atrocities of the Holocaust, what it did to her and her family. Finally her story was told. By this time she had 3 children and was now a grandmother. Otto became very happy as a husband, stepfather and now a grandfather. But they all worked together to continue to tell the Story Of Anne Frank.

Their are so many books on the subject of the Holocaust. So many stories to tell. But can you imagine the untold story’s? The ones that never made it out of the Camps. 6,000,000 Jews died. So Many innocent people…..Only because of their Faith……These 3 books are such an enlightenment of what went on because of one man…..Adolph Hitler.…These story’s must always be remembered. We must never let evil again reign down on our earth……Again, this is only the story’s of a few people, what about the other 6 million….

Visit To The Culinary School For Lunch

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Harlingen is the home of TSTC Culinary School. (Texas State Technical College). The students learn from cooking, baking, presentation of food, to the proper serving etiquette of the meal. They also learn how to prepare a menu, cost analysis, and shopping for their menu. Every Monday, they send out an Email presenting their Menu for Wednesday. I am on the list and have been getting it for almost 2 years. I have never gone as I was busy or I just didn’t know exactly where it was. The Campus is large and very spread out. The lady’s were just taking about it when we attend the Play at the Theatre on Sunday. Monday morning their it was …….My Email from Chef Emma...…

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Yum Italian….My Favorite…. I grew up in an Italian town, so this was certainly the key to my stomach. I contacted several lady’s and we set our lunch at 11:30 am. I called out to the school and talked with Bobbi…..Very nice lady on the phone….Extremely friendly and helpful to me as a first timer. Finally after another call or 2, we had reservations set for 5 of us. I picked everyone up and we headed out. Several had been their before but just wasn’t sure on exactly where it was. I had the map Chef Emma sent in the Email. We pulled into the parking lot, and the building said Science..Hmmmmm….Lila went in to explore the halls….Bingo…We were in the right place. We wound through the halls of students with their bookbags, and found Room 185.

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As we entered, they were all ready for us. They took my name for my reservation, and then seated us and presented the menus. This was just a regular class room with round tables set up for the lunch. Their was probably 4 or 5 tables with people seated already. They started serving at 10:30. The First year students would be waiting on us and serving the drinks and food. The Senior students were in the kitchen preparing the dishes for us. Our waitress introduced herself and took our order. We were their Guinea pigs.... lol…The menu’s were fabulous. Some things we heard of some things not. We mostly all chose the same things. We chose an Appetizer, or they called it a Starter, an Entrée, and of course a Dessert. After a few minutes of laughter and visiting, the meal began…..First the appetizer..Yummmm…..“Bruschetta”

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The flavors were wonderful….Tomatoes with Garlic, Basil, and Balsamic on a toasted baguette. I am not a tomato lover, but this was “Awesome”

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Theresa ordered the Minestrone Soup…..This was not just a cup or Appetizer size….It was huge. It was also served with 2 pieces of Toasted Baguette . I had a taste and it was wonderful. Rich in flavor. Next, time for Main Course……“Shells stuffed with Ricotta Cheese with Spinach”……“Wow”

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We all ordered the same. The presentation on the plate was very appealing and the shells were huge…The flavors again….just wonderful…During this time Chef Emma came by and introduced herself and told us a little about the program. Everything is made from scratch, including the Creamy Cheese and Spinach filling. Finally last course….Dessert……“OMG”

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Just look at this….Its called “Deconstructed Chocolate Tiramisu” Believe me, it even tasted better than it looked….It was Heavenly. The flavors of chocolate and whip cream were to die for. We all had a good laugh when Debby said...”This is another good use for our wine glasses”. None of us finished out meal. We all took home 2 of our 4 Stuffed Shells. What a Fabulous Meal.

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After we were done eating, Chef Emma again came around, also Bobbi, the girl on the phone who took my reservation. Such friendly lady’s. They made us feel like family. They told the rest of the lady’s how to sign up for emails for their menus. Finally our waitress presented us with our bill It was only $12.75. Very Economical.

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Finally after much visiting and laughter and just a great time, it was time to leave. We each paid our bills at the cash register and headed out to the car and home. What a fun afternoon.

Thank you TSTC Culinary School…..Great Job, Great Food….Not only Great, Fantastic…..The Lady’s from Eastgate Mh & Rv Park Will Be Back…large_Logo.gif

Fabulous Play, “The Diary Of Anne Frank”

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Sunday, six of us lady’s from the park had the pleasure of attending the Harlingen Performing Arts Theaters Matinee performance of “The Diary of Anne Frank”. This is a local Volunteer Theater comprised of some of the most talented performers in the area. They did a fantastic job with this play. I read the book as a teen and had recently downloaded the newer version on my Kindle. I have yet to read it. This is a true story of the Frank Family, mom, dad, and 2 daughters, Margot and Anne, who went into hiding in July 1942. The persecution of the Jewish people was being stepped up by the Nazi’s and the German Occupation. They were being shipped to Concentration Camps and eventually the Genocide of the Jews began. Also known as the “Holocaust”, 2/3 rds of the Jewish population, 6 million people were exterminated.

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This story takes place in the upstairs concealed rooms of Mr. Franks former business in Amsterdam. The entrance was hidden by a bookcase. Anne was 13 when they went into hidding. They arrived with just a few things and layers of clothing, so not to attract the attention of the Nazi soldiers , as they walked the streets to the store to begin their life in seclusion. Another family (Van Daan), moved in also with a young teenage son, Peter. Also another man Jan Dussel, arrived later who was branded as a Jew. From July of 1942Aug 1944, they never set foot outside of their floor. They had to be very quite during the day during the business working hours down stairs. Anne was given a Diary from her father. She started to write about their daily life and her private feelings. For 2 years they all lived together, sharing their daily lives, happiness, sadness, heartaches sometimes arguing. Much of it went into her diary. She was a child when they first entered the building and became a young teenager during that time. She experienced the changes in her body and her desires. Only 4 people in the business downstairs knew they were their. They tried to come daily with food, personal needs and news from the outside world about the war. They knew if caught, they would probably be arrested and probably put to death.

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Celebrating Hanukkah

Most of us know the ending. Eventually they were found near the end of the war. They were taken to Concentration Camps. The girls died of probably Typhus, in February of 1945. Their mom also died. Otto Frank was the only one to survive. Her diary was left behind in the building. It was found and given back to him. So her story was preserved, her dream as an author was realized. She was able to tell the true story of their persecution and attempt to survive.

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Row 1 sitting…..Mrs. Edith Frank, Sofa…Margot, Anne Frank, Peter Van Daan….2nd Row….Otto Frank,….. Mr. Kraler, Mieps Gies, both worked downstairs. Mr. Van Daan, Mrs. Van Daan, and Mr. Jan Dussel

The theater did a fabulous job with the stage props. The stage was divided into the different bedrooms the family’s had, including a lofted upstairs bedroom for the Van Daam Family. Their was also a small kitchen area and a commons area. All of this on one stage. The story flowed through the rooms as they opened and closed imaginary doors. The sound effects were so authentic. They had sounds of marching solders in the streets, sirens, people talking, airplanes, and many other sounds. The lighting was also phenomenal. As the story unfolded in different rooms, the spotlights would flow from one room to another. A number of times the lights would go dark, and then the spotlight would come on. Anne would be sitting at the kitchen table writing in her diary. Their was darkness all around her. She would read as she wrote in her diary, telling the story of the news of the war, or her deep feelings as a growing teen. It was so surreal during those scenes. You could feel her hope, her feelings of young love, her frustration with her mom and room mates. Her yearning to be a regular teen, and doing the best possible.

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The cast was marvelous. Their lines were polished. They spoke them with ease. Their feeling spoke with every word. They were truly living their roles. Everything was so synchronized. This is truly a heart wrenching story, as we know that they perished. Also 6 million Jews were killed and or died in the camps. They were treated with no humanity. The suffered so before they were sent to the gas chambers. Why……Just because of their faith. They were Jewish. This is because of one man. “Hitler”....He decided their fate. The solders did what they were told. How can you do that. I never understand nor will anyone else. We must never forget what happened. Lets hope America stays strong. We must never let one man rule and we obediently follow. We must stand up for our rights, even if we disagree with the powers to be. America is a very fortunate country. We have freedoms that many others do not…..This is a must read book. This was just one story of the prosecutions of the “Holocaust” Please take the time to read it. Otto Frank published the first book in 1947 in Dutch. In 1952 it was then translated and published in English. Since then it was been published in over 60 languages. Anne’s dream has been realized. She has become a hero and her story has been published and is being read from generation to generation. She was but a young girl trying to grow up during the reign of the Nazis.

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Seven Days Visiting Family & Friends

I’m back in Harlingen after being away for 10 days. Rich and I left for Illinois and spent 7 days full of visiting and attending my Class Reunion. We decided not to drive because Rich was staying to work harvest again this fall. We love the train, so that is what we decided to do. I bought our tickets on line for $107 each one way, from San Antonio to Bloomington Il. Quite a steal. But it only goes south as far as San Antonio which is 4 hours away. Our friends Marge and Gary took us up the day before. We arrived and checked into our motel. Then we went down to River Walk. It is such a beautiful place.

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It should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is a river that meanders through the city, 1 story below the street level. Every block is a bridge overhead where the city streets are bustling with traffic . Walk down the steps and enter another world where the river is lined with little outside cafe’s with colorful umbrellas, restaurants, and shops. The sidewalks are made of many a variety of materials, bricks, cobblestone, or concrete. They follow the river on both sides and have beautiful mature trees, plantings of flowers and tropical foliage lining the river and sidewalks.

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Every few minutes a Tour boat floats by with the Captain telling his Passengers the history of the River Walk. A new company took over the River Walk boats suppling all new designed boats. Their are Tour Boats, Taxis and also Dinner Cruise Boats, that comprise the fleet of 26 in September of 2017, expecting to peak at 44 boats in the fleet. Every block their is a beautiful arched crossover to get to the other side. We walked and found a little piano bar. It had a/c, how wonderful and refreshing as it was soooooo hot outside. I was a great place to just relax and listen to the piano man play his tunes and sing.

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My Favorite Building on the River Walk…Its an Optical Illusion….The building is triangle shape and looks like it would fall over. NIX Health Hospital

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We had dinner before we went back. Rich ordered this Shrimp Fest. It had 4 different types of Shrimp. Finally it was dark and was time to return to the hotel.

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Beautiful old Oak Tree near the Alamo

We actually walked, so by the time we got back, I don’t know who was more tired Marge or Me. lol. In the morning we got up early and Gary and Marge took us to the Historic Sunset Train Depot at 6:30. We boarded the train by 7am and pulled away soon after. Now to settle down for our 28 hour ride to Illinois. Cameron would be picking us up at Bloomington Il Amtrak Station the next day, Wed. around 11 am. The train is a great way to ride. The seats are fairly comfortable and spacious.

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The bathrooms are down stairs on the lower level. They are very tiny but serve the purpose. You can walk to the Observation Car.

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Their, people visit, play cards, read, or just watch the view out the many windows, as you fly by the country side. Down below is the Café’ that has everything you may need or want including alcohol. The next car is the Diner. It is usually fairly expensive but we usually eat one meal their.

We sat across from a family who couldn’t speak English. A lady several rows ahead helped to interpret to the conductor. It turns out they were from El Salvador. They had a new born and a small boy, maybe 4. They were going to Boston. Now this made me think. Their is no security in the train system. I bought the tickets online. You don’t have to check in at the train station. Board the train, and the conductor comes by and scans your phone. …..Hmmmmmm……So as long as you have your tickets on your phone, anyone can get on…….Something to Think About……After an uneventful restful trip, we arrived on time and Cameron picked us up. First stop as usual, of course....”One Paw’z Pub”…..Brandy had Chicken Fried Steak and mashed potatoes and gravy…..yum…..Tina, Ed and the kids were heading to Wisconsin early Saturday morning for the annual family fishing trip that Eds dad always has. They are sportsmans, loving fishing and hunting. Tina and Ed bought a new beautiful Camper. So we went over to see them before they left.

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It is really beautiful. Love the colors and the interior floor plan. It has a private bedroom and the bunks in the rear for the kids.

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Miley gets the top bunk

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Austin wouldn’t cooperate for a picture, so Aunt Beth got him down…..lol….time to tickle

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Austin and Grandpa Dolder doing what he does best…..Sleep….

It has a beautiful kitchen with a table and couch across in the slide. They left on Saturday for a week of camping, boating, fishing and visiting family. While they were their, “DeeDee” had her “First Birthday”.

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Happy Birthday Dee Dee “1”

So of course She had a Party complete with a Doggy Birthday Cake.

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Austin of course did his share of fishing and caught a 21″ Walleye. Tina said he was so proud. Fishing is his favorite thing to do. He is going to be like his Dad and Grandpa. Saturday nite was the Class Reunion, so Sunday Tammy and I took Carly and Cassidy to Peoria. We visited the Riverfront Museum. They had a showing of Unicorns and Mythical Creatures.

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Carly wore her Unicorn outfit….

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She was fascinated by the beautiful Pegasus. Then we went over to the Museum side. They had many activities for the kids. Actually adults too. This one was our favorite. You know those things you put your hand in that have all those pins. It makes the shape of your hand when you press the pins to the other side? Well this was “Body size” lol

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We had such fun with this. We all took turn. Cassidy has her eyes close and Carlys Unicorn on her head shows up. Tammy and I did it also, ours is a little “Wider”……lol...After that we went to Steak and Shake on the River Front in East Peoria.

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Love Steak and Shake food. We sat in a booth looking out at the Illinois River with Peoria across from us. After that Tammy took us by OSF Hospital and took us on a tour through her department. She is now a “Floor Charge Nurse”. It was a long day, time for home and some R & R. The next day is Labor Day and off the Toluca’s Labor Day Parade and Carnival with the girls.

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Carly got plenty of candy with her big bag.

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It was so hot, at the end the tank came through spraying water….Felt sooooo Good

This is one Parade that gives away so much candy. Their is so much that they seem to pick and choose after awhile and some candy is never picked up. Then off to the Carnival after the Parade.

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Of course when your young you ride all the rides. That was Carly, she had a blast. Of course you must have Carnival Food right? So Corn Dogs, Lemonade Shake Ups and more. Another day of fun. We were so hot and tired. The next day was Tuesday and my last day. I had talked with the girls from work and we got together at Cabin Fever in Peru after they got off work.

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It was so good to see them all. We spent over and hour, maybe 2 just visiting and catching up. Listening to their story’s made me realize how lucky I am to be retired living the life we are now. So glad I’m not their anymore. Back at Scotts, Tammy was over one day. He has one of those contraptions that you hang upside down and stretch your back ?

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Tammy strapped in her feet. We were dying with laughter. At first she couldn’t get upside down. Then Dad pushed her over and wouldn’t let her come back up.lol…It was so funny. The next day it was time to get back on the train. I was their 7 days. Rich is staying to work harvest again this year. This year he is hauling corn from the Elevator to the terminals on the Illinois River. This then makes space for the new crop of corn being harvested. He’s also hauling some corn from the field to the elevator. We drove back to Bloomington Normal and he put me on the train for my return trip. It was again a nice relaxing ride. I had both seats as we never were full.”

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I ate 1 meal in the Diner. Steak burger Meal…$18…..It was late the next nite when the train arrived in San Antonio. It was 11:15pm. But that didn’t matter. I took a Taxi to Greyhound. My bus left at 2am. I was really tired by then. Finally I boarded the bus. Lets just say, “I was not impressed with the bus”. I curled up and went to sleep. Thank goodness for GPS. I woke up and the driver spoke only Spanish to everyone. We were going through a town. I realized we were already in Harlingen. It was 6:30 am. I had been watching the GPS on the phone for the whole trip. It is a great way to find out on the train where you are. Ron from the park came and picked me up. So glad to get home....First thing on the Agenda “Shower”…..2 nites without…..Not Good….Then Sleep, So tired…..

So here I am back at the Park…..Working Cinemark on the weekends and starting a new project. Painting bathrooms at the halls...….Fun…Fun…Fun…Soon the New Season shall begin…..I’m already planning activities for all those Winter Texans that soon shall be heading south. One by one they will be hitting the road….Heading South for the Sunshine and warmth of the winter. Escaping the Cold Harsh Winters……Yes ….

This is the Life….going on 5 years with no Snow for Us…….lol…Heaven….

Class of 1968 ….”50″ Years….

I just returned from a trip back to Illinois. The purpose of the trip was to attend my “50th” Class Reunion from Toluca High School. “50” ??? Really “50” How ever did that happen. I really doesn’t seem that long since we walked out the door for the last time after graduation. When you are a teenager, life is eternal. The thought of aging and growing old, is just never going to happen. That’s not even reality. Your whole future is ahead of you and your anxious to spread your wings and begin. But it does……….All of a sudden your caught up in life, what ever it me be, and you blink your eye…….Here we are “50” years later. Some stayed single, some became Parents, then Grandparents, even Great Grandparents. We have weathered 50 years of living in the adult world. Many of us are now retired. “Our Golden Years Are Here”. We have moved from one coast to another and from the north down to Texas. But we managed to get 18 of us to return to Toluca for this reunion.

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50 Years ago, we graduated from Toluca High School in 1968. We were a class of 35. “The Home of the Wildcats”

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Sitting….Kathy, Row 1….Morene S, Lyla N, Paul H, Sue, Martha B Row 2… Denise C, Cristy A, Me, Mary Virginia E, Karen S, Row 3…..Chuck B, Greg H behind, Don W, Bob B, Steve T, Fred B, Stan G.

And here we are today, 50 years later.

Last year Morine, our Class President emailed the plans for the reunion. Most of the reunions in Toluca take place over Labor Day Holiday. This is the Big Celebration for the town. They host a 3 day carnival, parade, entertainment, food tents, bingo, and many other activities for the town. It is a Holiday the town plans for all year. Of course as a kid, this was the time of the year you waited for. This was the Coolest, Biggest Event of the Year. I lived a block from town. I remember being so excited to see the carnival come in to town. We usually started school around Wednesday before Labor Day. We had 3 days of school. But why did those teachers have to give us homework for the weekend??? I seemed like they did that every year. So Cruel. So as we drove into town. It was actually exciting to see all the activities and the carnival in place. The Reunion was at Mona’s Italian Restaurant.

Mona’s and Capponi’s have been a Legacy in town since the 1930’s. They are family owned restaurants that are famous for miles around, for their fried chicken, spaghetti and ravioli, and their homemade VO salad dressing. As we were growing up, this was always the place to go for nice dinner. It was a place that everyone gathered for any event or party. This same sign has hung since I can remember. It signifies Toluca. I actually lived right behind Mona’s on the next street. Ohhh the aroma’s that would come from the kitchen. It was Wonderful. In the back ground, you can see Capponi’s. It was owned by the Capponi family, but was purchased and now both are owned by the Bernardi Family. Their Grandpa had the nickname “Mona” back in the 30s.

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We were taken back to the private dinning room. On entry, this was the cool sign they made.

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It was so nice to see everyone. We all wore name tags, which were our high school photos, but no names. A couple of people I had to look at their name tag, as I didn’t recognize them. 18 of us showed up. It was a very nice crowd. We did lot of visiting and getting updated on our families and lives.

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They had placed lots of cool props for a Photo Shoot. Boas, hats, masks, etc were on the tables.

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The committee also made a photo frame for us all to take our picture. We had a choice of chicken, steak or cod. After dinner they cut the cake.

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Morene gave us the report on the people who didn’t attend. Some had plans, some just didn’t come. Their is only 1 classmate we don’t know what happened to. We’ve had 3 pass away.

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This table was set up with their pictures and obituaries, and a candle for remembrance.

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Diana was a good friend all through high school. She had went to St. Ann’s grade school, so I didn’t really meet her until we were Freshman. She moved to Texas several years after graduating. I never seen her again. She passed away from Cancer.

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Rick Fleeman moved to Tennessee and passed of Muscular Dystrophy.

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Tom Marchesi only moved to Lacon. Its not far. He passed away from an ice fishing accident.

Finally after eating, and much visiting and picture taking, we all went our ways, but we set the date to do it again in 5 years. Lets hope were still all here.

Toluca had 2 grade schools. St. Ann’s Catholic School, and Toluca Grade School. In grade school we were a very small group. I attended the Public School. Our classes sizes varied between 14 – 20. These pictures were supplied by Don Wettstein. His mom saved many of his things from school. This is why his name is written on the photos.

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3rd Grade Mrs. Kresl? Row 1….Sandra Bisio, Roger Haig, ?, Brenda Runnels, Me, Don Wettstein Row 2….Kathy Imm, Racine Burks, Ron Jenkins, Randy Dalton, Martha Fulks, Vicky Peters (Deceased), Wilma Stutzman, Sue Schumacher

Vicky Peters father passed away, and she moved to Minonk for High School. Later in her early 20’s, she was killed in a car accident on Rt 51 on the way to work in Bloomington.

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4th grade Miss Vespa.Row 1, Wilma Stutzman, Brenda Runnels, Sue Schumacher, Vicky Peters, Martha Fulks, Kathy Imm, Racine Burks Row 2….Don Wettstein, Rich Fleeman, Ron Jenkins, Randy Dalton, Leon (Russ) Myres, Roger Haig

I attended the grade school for all but 4th and 5th. My parents divorced and I went to live with my grandmother in Kewanee. In 6th grade I returned as my mom thought I was then old enough to behave after school until she returned home from work.

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6th Grade Miss Brandt Row 1 ….Don Wettstein, Bruce Middleton, Rick Fleeman, Linda Armstrong, Me, Sandy Bisio, Ron Jenkins Row 2....Dennis Snow, Roger Haig, Randy Dalton, Chuck Bruell, Kathy Imm, Brenda Runnels, ? Row 3…..?, Sue Schumacher, Wilma Stutzman, Martha Fulks, Racine Burks, Vicky Peters

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8th Grade Mr. Don Whitler…. Row 1 Sitting, Ron Jenkins, Rick Fleeman, Chuck Bruell, Kathy Imm Row 2 Standing Bob Mouser, Randy Dalton, Me, Racine Burks, Wilma Stutzman, Linda Armstrong, Martha Fulks, Dennis Snow, Randy Baldwin , Don Wettstein, Mary Crank, Tom Marchesi, Sue Schumacher, Lyla Nixon

Once we graduated 8th grade, St. Anns Catholic Grade School joined together with us for High School. Toluca High School was really a small school at this time, probably with an average enrollment of 130 kids. Everyone new each other. We enjoyed a great Basketball team through the years. It was the #1 sport in school and the whole town joined in supporting and cheering for the “Wildcats”. We were arch rivals of nearby Wenona High School. During our Junior year, our team actually made it to the Super Sectional, Sweet Sixteen, Thanks to the guidance of Coach Chuck Rolinski. We were defeated by a school with a 3000 Enrollment. Basketball was always the highlight of the school season. I can remember so many times the town would rally around the bus’s as the team came back after an important game. The sirens would be blaring and everyone cheering.

In 1887 Toluca was originated originally as a farming community, with the railroad coming through. It became the Santa Fe main line connecting Kansas City and Chicago. Eventually it carried the Passenger trains clear to Los Angeles California. It is now an Amtrak freight line . In 1892 the town became a booming coal mine town. Its population eventually grow to over 6000, settled mainly by Italians. You can still see evidence of this by the 2 coal mine slags piles that we call the Jumbos still to this day. This was the materials discarded after the coal was mined. The mines finally closed in 1924 due to the decreased need for coal. As kids, many of us would climb the Jumbo and look out over Toluca. A sight that is always so inspiring. To be up so high and see the whole town before you.

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In front of you is the main street of town, all the different buildings, then beyond it becomes the farm land dotted with barns and homes. Every mile is a road. It looks like little squares of checkerboards extending to the horizon. Each checkerboard is different depending what stage the field is in. If you stay up their very long, you will hear a train in the distance. Soon, here it comes chugging away, “Toot Toot Toot”, in the distance until it passes the town right before you. As a kid, I crossed over the tracks many times. It was like an adventure to explore. The area was all grown up in weeds. Paths were their to access the Jumbo. Their was a small hay shed that we sometimes played in. The entrance to the mine shaft was still their, but a fence partioned it off. Nobody worried where you were. You were just enjoying the Adventure for the day.

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Today Toluca is a small town of 1500 population and has formed the Toluca Coal Mine Association, preserving the area by developing a park and fishing pond. The history of the coal mines has been preserved for all future generations. The Jumbo is now covered with grass and a picnic table rests on the top. I actually climbed the Jumbo again in June of 2015. It was really a Long…Long…..Exhausting …Walk….lol.Actually almost a crawl…….I had to stop several times to catch my breath…..But was so worth it. Their is nothing like the view of Toluca from on top of the Jumbo….Amazing….

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Finally in 1992, Toluca consolidated their school. The school system is now comprised of Toluca, Wenona, and MDR…(Minonk-Dana-Rutland) The High School is in Minonk and is now Fieldcrest High School. Middle School is in Wenona, and Toluca, Wenona and Minonk each have their own Elementary Schools. So our old Grade school was torn down and was St. Anns Catholic. Our Old High School is now the Elementary School with a new addition on the front.

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This is the future of all the small town schools. One by one they are all consolidating so they can afford to give our children a better education. So many hours and days we spent in this school…

What a Great Labor Day it has been. “50” years since we walked out those doors. We anxiously entered the real adult world. This school prepared us for today. It did a great job. ……So in 2023, we Shall All Do This Again….

2023 Reunion…..”55″ years….

SEE YOU ALL THEN

Heres an interesting fact for you: Did you know most of the Class of “68” was 68 years old on our 50th reunion? Also we were mostly born in the year 1950.