#30 JULY 8 2001
A LETTER TO THE CHILDREN OF THE JUNIORS
July 8, 2001
I hope everyone has a good time at
the family reunion.
I just finished watching the great video that Pam made for me. I'm sure that watching it would have the same effect on everyone else as it did on me. I think it should be required viewing before each family reunion and a couple of times through the year as well.
The photos that affected me the most were the ones of the "mingling of tribes"; by this I mean there was a photo of Mary and Susie dancing at a wedding and another one of Pam and Sherry dancing at Sherry's wedding. There was a great photo of Sharen and Diane and another of Jackie and Michael. These were the pictures that made me smile. These are the pictures of the family having fun. These are the pictures of family love. These are the precious memories.
On this, the occasion of the 30th family reunion, I'd like to tell a little story of some of my memories. These are my memories of the very first Gurto family reunion and the time thereabouts. I especially would like to address this story to the fourth generation. The children of the Juniors.
More than an entire generation has passed since the first reunion 29 years ago. American Pie was the hit song of the year. There was only one of your generation around then. Johnny Lewis II was 1 1/2 years old. My sister Brandy and my Brother Nick weren't born yet. Only two of the Juniors were married then, but then they were pretty old, Diane was 25 and Johnny was 22.
The Viet-Nam war was in full swing and we were all grateful that Jimmy and Johnny had made it home safely. I can remember several times when we would be at Grandma's helping to pack packages of food for them and writing letters to them. Rosie and Effie proudly displayed the star on their front windows that let everyone know that they had a son in the service.
I was 17 years old that year and Just before the reunion I went to Milwaukee to spend 4 weeks with Aunt Sue and Sharen who lived with Aunt Sue at the time. Jackie Moneypenny was asked to come along but his Dad wouldnt let him go. Jackie and I were inseparable as we had been ever since we were about 5 and 6 years old. Sharen was engaged to David at the time and I remember them taking me out to a few places. There was a beautiful girl who lived across the street from Aunt Sue and I was madly in love with her only she didn't know it.
Grandma and Grandpa (Peter and Mary) had just died the previous winter. It was very strange attending the funerals; they were almost identical and only 6 weeks apart. The only good thing about it was the fact that the "out of towners" would be around. It was always special when Jimmy and B-Ann's family, Christy and Peggy's family or Sue and Bob would be in town. Even when Tony and Ellen and the kids came around it was a big deal They only lived here in Conneaut but to us it was so far away. My dad always used Tony's kids as an example for us to model our behaviour. It was just like a Holiday. The adults would chat and leave us kids to our own devices.
It was pretty much like that at the first reunion at Jimmy and B-Ann's house. I remember that they had a bar and Jimmy Speer was making drinks for all the kids. I had quite a few Cherry Brandy and Cokes that day. As a matter of fact, that would have been the first time I had ever really drank alcohol. Somehow, the fact that we were all together didn't strike me as being all that unusual or special since most of us lived in close proximity and could see each other whenever we wanted. And me being a 17 year old who "knew it all" figured that it would always be that way. It was only a short time later that the Moneypenny's moved to Allentown. I suppose and, as cousins go, I would have been about the closest to the Moneypenny's since Steve was in my grade and Jackie was my best friend. I was over there or they were at my place nearly every day. It was then that I started to appreciate the opportunities to get together a little more.
But only a couple of months later we were almost all together again as we caravanned our way to Milwaukee for Sharen's wedding. I remember it was like a barracks down in Susie's basement. There were about 30 foldaway beds down there because we all stayed with her. I was happy to be able to see Claire again but my happiness was short lived. She developed a crush on David Gurto and hardly spoke to me at all.
I remember wanting to ask her to dance at Sharen's wedding but I didn't know how to dance. Who should come to the rescue, but our Aunt Gayle. Gayle was always the coolest aunt. She was always at our level. She understood us. We could go to Gayle and talk to her and she would understand. Anyway Gayle took me out on the dance floor and taught me to polka. She said, "If you can polka, you can do any dance." and you know something? She was right. I have had many dance lessons in my life in many styles from disco, to clogging, to ballroom and I have found them all very easy to pick up.
I had a job that year, actually I had been working for about two years already by then at Effie's and Rosie's Pizza Shop. What a great job. I remember Brenda helping us and for some reason I remember that her favourite song was "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress"
I was going into 12th grade that year. So was Stevie Moneypenny. The move to Allentown really affected Stevie because he had been elected class president. I remember he stayed with Gayle and Pat that year so that he could finish up his senior year. I also remember that there was a rivalry between Jackie and me over this one particular girl. Even though I was sad that they had moved I was also happy that Jackie was out of the picture as far as this girl was concerned. I was really happy when she accepted my invitation to the homecoming dance What happened? About and hour before I was to pick her up who should appear? Jackie. He wanted to know if he could tag along to the dance. So there we were, me, Jackie and my date with two corsages.
David Gurto Barry Pearce and Debi Pearce had just graduated and I remember Barry and Debi joining the army. Vietnam was still going on.
We took it all for granted then. We were carefree. Life could wait. And here we are now. This is where the seniors were at that first reunion. We have taken over the helm and are steering the family into the future
I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how things were for us when we were your age. Treasure these family reunions. Attend as many as you can. Some of you may move away one day and not be able to attend whenever you want. There will be commitments that will prevent you from attending as you get older But whenever you can, come to the reunion, tell your children the stories. Tell the adults your stories. Dance with each other, smile with each other. Today, take the opportunity to have your picture taken with someone youve never had it taken with before.
You know, in another 30 years I'd love to know how you feel today. It would be great if at the 60th reunion, someone who heard my story today will write his or hers down so that I can hear it. I'll be there, God willing. Ill only be 76.
Have a wonderful day I love you all very much. Frances, Dominic, Timothy. Jeremy and I all wish we were there with you.