Class of 1954 celebrates 55-year reunion with a mini-Tigers Roar

Published 9:00 am Friday, November 6, 2009

On Oct. 16, more than 100 members (and spouses) of Albert Lea High School class of 1954 gathered to chat, laugh, reminisce and party at the Wedgewood Cove Golf Club. On Oct. 17, 123 gathered to enjoy a meal, bid on silent auction items and laugh at the mini Tigers Roar. Dave Earp, master of ceremonies, told jokes and gave a “do-you-remember-test.” Jack Bergen won the authentic A & W Rootbeer mug for getting the most correct answers on the test. 

A copy of the original 1954 Tigers Roar program announced the “acts” for the mini Tigers Roar rendition. Connie Boyd read an original poem, “To My Classmates,” spoofing old age. The girls’ sextet sang “The Continental,” “Winter Wonderland” and “Easter Parade,” suitably costumed in crazy hats, scarves and even the traditional 1950s white gloves. Dave Horning, remembered as a quiet guy in high school, surprised and everyone with his comedy routine. Ray “Fritz” Ostrander donned a long wig to play opposite Dave Earp’s cowboy-hatted sheriff in their original Tigers Roar performance of “Wild Bill Hiccup.” Dave’s wife Lavon held up the cue cards for the audience. Jack Bergen read a poem speculating that the 60-year reunion may be held at the “Shady Rest Home for the Old.” Ostrander asked Bergen if he would like his palm read, and proceeded to do just that with some bright red lipstick, which brought on more laughter — just as it had 55 years earlier. 

June Turtness won the doorprize — an original painting by Evelyn Matthies. Bill Matthies donated copies of his new book on scuba diving. The pumpkin centerpieces were awarded to those celebrating their birthday closest to Oct. 17. Two classmates, Bill Matthies and Roger Johnson, were sung “Happy Birthday.”

Email newsletter signup

The girls’ sextet sang a version of “My Favorite Things” (Maalox, and nose drops and needles for knitting) and all were invited to sing along the second time around as the sextet dissolved in giggles. Then to the strains of “Glowworm” and the “Bunny Hop” (introduced in 1954) the guys’ conga line donned crazy hats and colorful leis and kicked and danced their way into the banquet room, gathering everyone behind them to conga over to get their cake. 

Each woman was given a tiny silver spoon from classmate Neil Garrett and his wife, Helen. All received a CD of their senior year “little red 45 rpm record,” and a booklet with “then and now” photos of classmates, current addresses and the list of deceased classmates. The class has lost 59 of its 258 classmates since graduation, with 15 since the 50-year reunion. A trifold memory board displayed pictures and dates of those departed friends.

Mini Roar participants included Dave Earp, master of ceremonies and accompanist; Dave Horning; Fritz Ostrander; Jack Bergen; girls’ sextet: Shirley (Benson) Miller, Marlene (Hatleli) Sorenson, Carolyn (Schneider) Harstad, Connie (Boyd) Krueger, Charlotte (Wall) Montei and Evelyn (Jensen) Matthies; guys’ conga line: Fritz Ostrander, Bruce Ruble, Dick Delgado, Bob Golberg and Dave Horning.

The 55-year reunion committee included Carolyn (Schneider) Harstad and Phyllis (Gunderson) Nielsen (co-chairwomen), Dale Peterson (treasurer), Jennelly (Ingvaldson) Groe, Lucille “Luci” (Nelson) Pellett, Donna (Pierce) Woodward, Ray “Fritz” Ostrander, Dave Earp, Arlene (Peterson) Thone, Lois (Sorlien) Fossen, Connie (Boyd) Krueger, Evelyn (Jensen) Matthies and Althea (Hanson) Schmidt.

The 60-year reunion will be held in the fall of 2014. Jinni (Narverud) Olson, Lorraine “Lori” (Klukow) Ashleson, Ray Keating, Mary (Speltz) Keating and Dave Horning (treasurer) have agreed to spearhead this next get together.