Some people eagerly await the publication of the Farmer’s Almanac. Others count the days ‘til the mailman delivers the Burpee’s Seed Catalog. As for me, it’s the Stevens High School Alumni Association Newsletter, which comes every spring and proudly reminds us, right under the title, that our’s is “The Oldest Active High School Alumni Association in the Country.”
This year the newsletter arrived even before the ice went out on Gilmore Pond, announcing that “Alumni Day” this year is on June 12. For those who attended SHS, this isn’t just any day. On that day, Pleasant Street in Claremont will be festooned with banners proclaiming “Welcome Back SHS Alumni.” On Friday night the “special” alumni classes, meaning at least the 25th and 50th and maybe others, gather to eat, drink, and reminisce. When I went back in 2007, we gathered at the Moose Hall wearing name cards with photos from our Class of ’57 yearbook. It took awhile, but as the evening wore on, people started to look like themselves.
Saturday is the big day. The parade starts early and goes on forever – bands, Shriners, antique cars, fire engines, Little Leaguers, and floats from every five-year class. The whole town comes out to watch. And, if you’re on your class float, you get to watch the people watching you.
Then it’s lunchtime. The Pleasant Sweet Shop, where my grandfather held “office hours,” is long gone, but there are some good choices, I’m told – “Carmella’s,” “New Usual,” and a “Common Man” located in one of the restored Monadnock Mill buildings on Water Street. They will no doubt do a good lunch business on Alumni Day, although the “Ladies of the Moose” are offering a $4.00 lunch at the high school cafeteria. The local restaurants won’t be so busy that evening, however. The Newsletter reminds us of the “Unspoken Rule” – no competing class events between 6:30 and 9:00 PM. That slot is reserved for the alumni banquet at the Frederick W. Carr Gymnasium. They’ll be serving Yankee Pot Roast.
This year’s Newsletter includes “Class News” going back to the Class of 1940, looking for a “big showing” for their 70th. The Class of 1942 laments that its ranks are getting smaller, but if it’s sunny on June 12, many members plan to show up – fair weather alums, it seems. The Class of 1960 is hatching its plans for the “Big One” out of a farmhouse in Ascutney, Vermont. For some reason there’s no report from the Class of 1985, but I’m sure they’ll be there in large numbers for their twenty-fifth.
There’s a column entitled “When Claremont Sleeps” by “Edna Kemp, Class of 1918.” No further information regarding Ms. Kemp’s whereabouts. Also “Notes from the Past” by Charles B. Fletcher, ’56. I remember Charlie. And, under “Alumni Spotlights,” a report that Tim Foisy, Class of ’78 and now residing in Canada, had his five minutes of fame: He was one of ten Royal Canadian Mint employees chosen last year to help carry the Olympic Torch on its way to Vancouver. The entire trek took 106 days. Tim, the report continues, “has accepted an invitation from the Alumni Association to participate in our annual parade on June 12th.”
No doubt you can now understand my great fondness for the Newsletter. It contains stuff you won’t find anywhere else. As for being the oldest such “active” alumni association, that’s what they told us when we graduated. If it was true then, it must be true now. So far as I’m aware, no one else has laid claim to the distinction, but I’ve always wondered about the word “active.” Is there, somewhere out there, an even older alumni association that is “inactive?”