Santa Fe Mini-Reunion Report
The Reunion Different in the City Different took place in Santa Fe, New Mexico 1-4 November 2001. The Hosts were the Seis Amigos. Tom Claffey, K2, was Chairman, Financial Chief and also Contractor for Hotel Rooms and for Music for all functions. Bob and Katie McCann, D2, coordinated the Memorial Service and along with Mark Sigurski and Karen Aylor, C1, were Planners and Coordinators of the Class Cocktail Party, Class Dinner and round the clock operation of the Benny Havens Hospitality Suite. Administration and Welcome Packets, table decorations, name tags, registration, and Class Dinner Party table assignments were the responsibility of Neil and Carole Mathis, K2, and Gerry and Bonnie Shurtz, E2. John Sutherland, K2, was CINC PR/PIO. The Seis Amigos were helped by Tom Sands, K1,who was CINC Golf and by Audrey Webb, I2, who organized the Widow's activities. A total of 293 folks attended the Mini. There were 141 Classmates, 8 Widows and 144 Spouses/Guests. Every company was represented by at least two couples.
The Seis Amigos goal was for the attendees to have a relaxed and casual atmosphere, with a minimum of scheduled activities, in which to reunite with old friends. The intent was for folks to be able to do what interested them in the City Different, and to be able to do it with the folks they most wanted to visit with. The Seis Amigos also encouraged the Class Widows to participate in the Mini, and were very happy to have eight attend. The hope is that other Widows will see this participation and that more Widows will be encouraged to attend future Minis and five year Reunions.
On Thursday, 1 Nov '01 everybody registered and received name tags, a schedule of events, a bag with a sampling of nuts grown in New Mexico and a roster of attendees. Ken and Jeanne Phillips, A2, were also present at the Registration Table handing out information and answering questions about the Mini-Reunion in Pensacola, Florida in April '02. Thursday night was the Class Cocktail Party which featured heavy hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, and live music by a guitarist. It appeared that almost all 292 folks attended this event. Hampton Sides, author of "Ghost Soldiers", was present as a guest and signed copies of his book for anyone who so desired. Hampton also gave a short talk on his book and the Bataan Death March. About five of our Classmates had Fathers, or other relatives involved in the Bataan Death March and the Japanese POW Camps in the Philippines. After the Class Cocktail Party ended people took off to get dinner or pursue other activities. A number of folks ended up in what became a very popular location during the period of the Reunion. That would be the Benny Havens Hospitality Suite, which was open round the clock with an unending supply of wine, beer and soft drinks in the refrigerator. One could usually find a lively group gathered there.
Friday, 2 Nov '01, was a "free" day and everyone went their own way shopping, taking tours of Santa Fe and the local area, visiting museums, playing golf (see next paragraph) and visiting with friends. Friday evening there was a Cocktail Party with a cash bar and live music provided by a guitarist. The intent was to let late arrivals get together with those who came in on Thursday. It was also to provide a meeting ground and departure point for the many companies that had scheduled individual company dinners at the many fine restaurants in Santa Fe.
Also on Friday our golfing classmates, the '58 Divot Diggers, were treated to a first
class experience in playing golf at PAA KO Ridge that was listed in 2000 by Golf Digest as
the best new course in the US. Based on the scores posted, it was tough! We had 27 players
as a final tally. We had 37 initially express an interest in playing, but unfortunately a
number had to cancel along the way for various reasons. Dick Groves was both the low gross
and low net winner, 75/68. George Robertson was second in the low gross category, 92/69.
There were some question raised about his 23 handicap, but all is fair in golf. Tom Sands,
with Margaret Groves design help, is having an appropriate permanent trophy made that, if
there is general agreement among the class golfers, will be available for award to
the winner of the annual reunion golf event. The winner each year will be able to retain
the trophy in his/her possession until the next reunion. Mike Luck, a non golfer, also
deserves a pat on the back for his generous contribution of number of silver ball markers
to the group. In addition to the lady golfers, they
were presented to the first guys who got on the bus. A good time was had by all.
On Saturday morning, 3 Nov '01, we held the Class Memorial Service in the beautiful old St. Francis Cathedral. Father Jerome Martinez, Rector of St Francis Cathedral, gave the Welcome. Our own Father Bill Miles, F2, gave the Invocation after which the Cadet Prayer was said in unison. Next was the Roll Call by Company of Classmates and Wives who have left us. This was followed by Taps, played by TSgt (Ret) Don Jackson, NMANG. The Alma Mater was sung by all, led by Palmer McGrew, I2. Father Martinez then gave the Benediction. It was a very moving ceremony in an impressive and solemn place.
After the Memorial Service everyone scattered to the winds to do what ever they desired with whomever they wished to visit with. The only scheduled tour of the Reunion took place on Saturday, and it was scheduled because the foundry required reservations. The tour visited the Shidoni Foundry to observe how they change an artist's design from wood, clay, or whatever medium they used, into a bronze figure. The final part of the visit was to observe one of the three molten bronze pourings the foundry does each Saturday afternoon. En route to the foundry the group stopped in Tesque for lunch, served outside. Also at the Shidoni site there is a glass blowing studio and a gallery with various art items for sale, and these locations were also visited by the group.
Saturday evening began with a Cocktail Party and was followed by the Class Dinner. The dinner was a Mexican Buffet. The dining arrangements were circular tables with seating for 10 people. Each table had a pot with live yellow mums and company guidons as a center piece. Company Mates took care of seating arrangements at their own tables. A live band provided music during the Cocktail Party and Dinner.
After dinner there was a brief program that started with Palmer McGrew making a few remarks. This was followed by Mark Sigurski who thanked our Class Scribe, George Sibert, for the many contributions George has made over the years to make the Class of '58 the close knit group that it is. Mark presented George with a plaque (sterling silver on wood) inscribed "To George, The straw that stirs and The glue that binds, from your classmates, USMA '58". The plaque was created by Sylvia Claffey's brother, Frank Patania. Jewelry created by Frank, his father and his son is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian. After the presentation Jack Bradshaw, M2, recognized a number of other Classmates who, over the years, have made valuable contributions to the success of the Class of '58.
After the brief program the dancing started. The band had several musical activities throughout the evening that got everyone involved in dancing and/or singing. During the band's break the crowd was entertained by the Gonzo Compadres, a musical group made up of Stan Bacon, I2, on the guitar, Chuck Densford, A2, vocalist (with the A2 Height Extender, courtesy of Tom Sands), and Sam Myers, E1, on the guitarino (the big guitar seen in Mariachi bands). All three sang, and all were under the watchful eye of Patsy Densford. The Gonzos first sang "Who Let the Gonzos Out?". Tony Nadal , F1, lent his Spanish expertise to "Alla en el Rancho Grande" and "La Cucaracha" with Art Meyer, K2, joining in the latter with his trumpet (although he only got to play five notes). The original three then did "The Gonzo Compadres" with five each Santa Fe specific verses, and then concluded with "The Golden Years". The evening ended with the singing of "Benny Havens" and the traditional "Army Blue", followed by the spontaneous singing of "God Bless America". After the party broke up many folks drifted up to the Benny Havens Room to continue visiting and to close out the evening.
On Sunday, 4 Nov '01 various groups met for breakfast to eat their last huevos rancheros or breakfast burritos and to continue visiting and eventually to say "So long" before departing for their next destination. All in all "The Reunion Different in the City Different" went very well, and the Great Class of 1958 enjoyed another gathering of old friends. In the days following the end of the Mini-Reunion the Seis Amigos received a number of emails, "snail mails" and telephone calls complimenting them on the Reunion and stating how much the attendees enjoyed the chaos free format that was followed for this gathering of the Great Class of '58. The Seis Amigios thank all of you for your kind words, and they are delighted that folks enjoyed themselves at The Reunion Different in the City Different.
CINC PR/PIO for the Seis Amigos