Monday, July 26, 2010


It's been awhile since I've posted. Been busy at CROW and am now in Ohio and Michigan for 3 weeks visiting family and friends, going to my Clan Montgomery annual meeting and going to a school reunion

The first "reunion" was Friday night. We got together with 7 old friends from the Fort Findlay Playhouse. We have known each other for about 40 years and worked on many, many productions together. The evening was spent reminiscing about the "good old days" or "back in my day". LOL. Such fun to see everyone.

The next reunion came on Saturday night. I taught Hearing Impaired in Findlay for about 20 years. And of course, along the way I taught many kids. Through Facebook I have reunited with quite a few of them. It was fun to see them all grown up and with their own families. And slowly the "kids" found and friended each other on Facebook. We started posting old school pictures and asking about whatever happened to----. Out of this, a couple of my former students decided to have a school reunion. The Findlay HI program turned 40 this year so they got in touch with as many of the former students, teachers, supervisors, aides, interpreters and even bus drivers that they could. Saturday night about 150 of us showed up for THE BEST reunion ever!! My signing skills never were the best and are really rusty now, but it didn't make any difference at all. What fun. I know that most of you don't know any of these people but for those who do, here are some of the pictures from the evening.

This is the reunion committee. I had all but one of these "kids" as students. Left to right--Matt Cunningham--I had him in 3rd grade. Christa Braun Wade--didn't have her as a student but she was a neighbor and is now married to Steve who lived with us for a year. Jill Snyder Stark--I had her in Pre School. Katrina Bruns Wapplehorst--had her in 3rd grade. Ryan Wapplehorst--had him in 3rd grade too and he and Katie are now married. Ryan and Jill were the co-chairman while the others served on the committee. They surprised all of the staff, aides and even the bus driver with certificates of appreciation. Here, Ryan and Jill are presenting 3 of the 4 supervisors who have or are currently serving the HI program with their certificates. The 4th, Dr. Benz, had planned on coming but had to cancel last minute because of a family emergency. We really missed him.Here, the supervisors are presenting Deb Wickerham, one of the teachers, with an award in recognition of her award last year as Ohio Teacher of the Year. The quality of this picture is pretty poor but I think it is soooo funny. Jill and Ryan are signing to the crowd and it looks like "syncronized signing." I also had Ryan's brother, Bill, in school. Their mom was one of the interpreters for the program. It was so great to see the whole family there Saturday night. Bill and his wife, Jennifer; Dick and Mel (dad and mom) and Katie and Ryan. What a great family they are!What made this reunion so special was the fact that teachers were invited. That doesn't usually happen at class reunions. And yes, that would be me third from the right in the first picture. (I kind of lifted this photo from some of Marta's pictures.) Some of us traveled quite a distance too. I came from Florida. One came from Arizona, one from Michigan and another from Washington DC. We wouldn't have missed it for the world!Of course, I had to take a bunch of group shots. And a few shots posed and candid. Tracy, Lauren, Elsa and Destiny. I had Tracy and Destiny in 3rd grade and Elsa took my job in Pre school when I moved up to 3rd grade.Pat Sommer who was the first supervisor of the program then returned a few years later to teach. She is talking with Steve Wade. Steve was from Wapakoneta and wanted to be on the wrestling team in 8th grade. Unfortunately it was an afterschool sport and he had to ride the bus home, so he lived with us during the week that whole year so he could be on the team. Steve is like our own kid!
Linda Bailey and Phillip Nelson. I never had them as students but we still got to know pretty much all of the students over the years.
James Taylor and Brian Mueller. I had them both in pre school and again in 3rd grade.
Heidi Curtis Walter and Shelby Walter. I had Heidi in pre school and 3rd grade. I had her brother too. Heidi and Shelby traveled from Chicago for the reunion.
Dr. Barbara McKenzie was my supervisor after Dr. Benz moved to another job. I taught with Kathy Boylan Young for a few years before she moved to London. When she returned she took over the job from Dr. McKenzie when Dr. McKenzie retired.
Amanda Plumb, Becky Morris Stocking, Luke Robinson, and Elsa Brindley Shrader. I taught with Becky and Elsa and had both Amanda and Luke as students.
It always makes you feel good when your former students want to have their picture taken with you. I guess it means they forgive you for how mean you were to them--or they forgot it. LOL. Here I am with Barbie Eddington. I had Barbie a couple of times in elementary. She graduated the same year I retired and came to my retirement party.I had Destiny Hayes Cotrell in 3rd grade. She left to go to her home school in 4th grade and I hadn't seen her since. Now she is all grown up and a mom. Wow.
My friend, Marta Crow, and I taught together for many years. Both of us were BGSU hockey fans and started having our kids write letters to the players and make posters to hang at the arena. Many of the players came to visit our classes including a couple who went on to play in the NHL. One of the players, Dan Bylsma, who visited several times won the Stanley Cup as the head coach of the Pittsburg Penguins last year. But, I digress! Anyway, quite a few of us stayed at the hotel overnight so of course there was a get together after the official reunion. Here are Marta and me still up at 1:30 in the morning! After hours party with Katie and Ryan Wapplehorst and Chris Allison who just married a former student, Tracy Graham.And last but not least, Jill Snyder Stark with her hubby Michael Stark. I had Jill in Pre School only. I had totally lost track of her until somehow we found each other on Facebook. She won't admit it, I'm sure, but this whole reunion was pretty much her brainchild. She and Ryan didn't really know each other but met in Chicago where Jill lives, hit it off, and put together the best reunion EVER!!! I can't thank these two "kids" enough(I still think of them as my kids) as well as Matt, Christa, and Katie for all the many hours of work and much more that they put into this event. It was a night that none of us will soon forget. I love you all!! Signed "Runka".

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Quiet 4th

When we moved down here full time, I really looked forward to the 4th and the celebration here on the island. We were here about 10 years ago and had enjoyed the parade and fireworks so much. When I found that the parade was on Saturday the 3rd instead of the 4th, I was a bit disappointed. I volunteer in the CROW clinic on Saturday mornings. I know I could have said I wasn't coming in but all of our students were going to be gone to be in the parade which left only 4 people besides me to man the whole place for about 3 hours. That and the fact that in a couple of weeks I'm leaving for a month, I didn't feel it was fair. So I worked instead of going to the parade. And, believe it or not, I wasn't at all disappointed. I had a great morning with the skeleton staff and the critters.

It didn't look for awhile that Sanibel was going to have fireworks because they didn't have the funds but some caring and very gracious residents chipped in and raised enough money to purchase the fireworks. The causeway seems to be the spot where most people go to watch the fireworks. When we were here before, that's where we went so that's where we planned to go.

It rained or was really gloomy most of yesterday so it looked like the fireworks might be a washout. But it cleared about 7:00 so at 8:00 we decided to head to the causeway. Just as we were leaving we saw a faint but beautiful rainbow.I had really wondered about going to the boat ramp to watch the fireworks but figured with no C parking pass we couldn't go there. But as we were passing the Chamber of Commerce I noticed people parking there and walking down to the foot of the bridge. So we pulled in and joined the crowd. We couldn't have found a better spot!Traffic across the bridge to and from the causeway islands was non stop. In factit piled up and was almost at a standstill. Sanibel's Finest kept driving back and forth announcing that there was no parking on the bridge. I had forgotten from 10 years ago but there were a LOT of private fireworks being launched out on the causeway islands. I don't always feel too safe around those kinds of fireworks so I'm glad we didn't go out there.

Someone kept shooting off flares which actually were pretty amazing since they hung up in the sky for what seemed like forever.The sky was beautiful as the sun was setting. By the way, the fireworks were launched just in front of the tall pole you can see in the pictures. (I think it is an osprey nest.)There were tons of boats gathered out in the water to watch the fireworks. After dark, it looked like a small city out there. The fireworks started about 9:00 and lasted for about 20 minutes. It was a wonderful display. Unfortunately my pictures don't really do it justice.
I'm sure practically everyone has seen the quote from a letter that John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail. He had envisioned the celebration to be on the 2nd as that is when Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence from England. It was signed on the 4th which is when we now celebrate.

"The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more."

Many years ago, I had the extreme pleasure and privilege to direct the musical, 1776, at the Fort Findlay Playhouse in Findlay, Ohio. I love that show, the music, the characters, the story, the history etc. One of the songs that always stuck in my head was "Is Anybody There" where John sings "Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?" And a verse in that song paraphrases his letter to Abigail.
I see fireworks! I see the pageant and
Pomp and parade
I hear the bells ringing out
I hear the cannons roar
I see Americans - all Americans
Free forever more

Well, John (who just happens to be a very distant cousin of mine), you guys did a great job for those of us who followed you. Thank you and thanks to all of the men and women who serve and who have served not only their country but all of us by keeping this country free forever more.