Gwen's Reunion Weekend 2011
A weekend in Port Hope with Gwen (Hyne) Magee
Barbara Gwendolyn (Hyne) Magee
August 31, 2011
This is a special day in the lives of three little girls who lived at 104 Ontario Street in Port Hope, Ontario for the early part of their lives. This was their parents' Anniversary and if things had worked out differently, celebrations of this date would have been carried on for many years. They married in Toronto in 1932 so today marks what would have been their 79th Anniversary. I have been thinking a lot today about them and how they gave us such a wonderful start in life, in a lovely little town called Port Hope. I am the eldest of those three kids and I have a continuing story to relate for those who can take the time and are brave enough to endure what may be a long 'read.'
Most of you will know me as Gwen Hyne (Barbara Magee to others), not because I want to confuse you, that is the difficulty with naming your child with two given names and then using the second one. My legal name is Barbara Gwendolyn 'Gwen' Hyne Magee and if you get something via email or a cheque with my signature, that is yours truly using what shows on my birth certificate (there's another story here for a later time).
A couple of months ago, when Brian Kenneth O'Connor posted a note on the PHHS Alumni website about travelling from Newfoundland, where he and Cathy now reside, to the western USA for their son's wedding, and making a side trip to Port Hope for Decoration Day, August 14th, it seemed reasonable to try to arrange a dinner with their friends the Boughens (John and Meredith).
Now you know I love to get people together for any kind of celebration and any excuse to return to town and meet old school chums and neighbours is all I need.
Brian asked about some of the PHHS Alumni from his era - 1961-62, and found out that Jacquie Demille, who now lives in Australia, would be home for a visit at the time in question. My calendar showed that the Port Hope Annual Arts & Crafts Show was scheduled for that same weekend, and the Capitol's presentation of the musical 'Hairspray' was beginning its three-week run on that Saturday. How could we pass up such an opportunity to put together a weekend of fun that would bring some cash flow into town and provide enjoyment for a lot of folks who hadn't seen one another in many a year. So was born Reunion 2011. It grew from Brian's dinner for four, with help from a lot of people. That song from the 50's that Dinah Shore sang with so much feeling — 'Dear Hearts and Gentle People' (Who Live and Love in My Home Town) — kept running through my head as I called so many who spread the word via email, snail mail and word of mouth.
There were lots of phone calls as I searched for those who had lived on The Avenue (Bloomsgrove, the only avenue in town at the time) in 1939, who had performed to raise money for the Star Fresh Air Fund as kids from 3 to 14 and now, 72 years later, with a couple of exceptions would get together for another photo, and send a donation to this summer's Fund. Unfortunately, two of the kids had passed away, but by having some stand-ins from their families, we were able to get quite a few to redo the picture outside the Red Rice. We managed to find all but one of the remaining group but, of course not all could make the trip on a busy summer weekend, so we intended to use head shots of those not available. The human interest section for the Star may be interested, so we'll see what appears in print.
Getting these people together after so many years was a challenge, but they came from all over Ontario and even the Quebec/Vermont border as Irene (Knight) Poulin arrived by train for the occasion, bringing a photo from about 1949 of the United Church Busy Bees, which is included here.
Norma (Trawin) Gordon drove from Whitby, Shirley (Stephenson) Lawley persuaded Dave to drive from West Lorne (near St Thomas); Doug and Joan (Patterson) Palmer came from Cobourg; Owen and Elaine Lent still reside in Port Hope, and we were there from Etobicoke. John and June Moore sent regrets from Frankfurt and Peterborough,as did Ken O'Neill (Ajax), Bob Trawin (Kamloops, BC) his sister Harriet from Kingston, Eleanor DeNure (Fenelon Falls). We couldn't locate Mildred Hodgert by that name. Lynne Welch and Pat Palmer are no longer with us. I'd hoped to have Mary (Lawson) Hancock stand in for her cousin Lynne, as Doug and Joan Palmer did for Pat and Betty but the timing didn't work. Anyway we did get the photo taken and hope we can get it to the Star for their use pretty soon.
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At this point, I was reaching the panic state since we hadn't been able to find a sound system for Saturday night's proceedings. I had arranged for flowers, balloons, name tags and signage, but no sound. As usual, one of the locals came through when Peter Abrams suggested we call George's Guitars in Cobourg. A quick call settled the whole matter. Thanks to Bruce and Fran Ballett's early arrival from St Catharines with the van, we were able to pick up the equipment and still make it to the dinner arranged by Bob and Mercedes Richards for the Matterhorn on King Street in Cobourg. 'Love their schnitzel.'
It was like a family dinner in the back dining room. The Richards, Balletts, Karl Lenahan, Floyd Beebe, Irene Poulin, Jacquie Bragger and Doug and I were all seated easily and fed royally in plenty of time to get back to Port Hope for the Capitol's first night of 'Hairspray.' Peter Abrams had been at the dress rehearsal on Thursday night and was pleased with what he had seen. We were able to get the director, Uwe Meyer, to give us a little plug for Reunion 2011 (we had about 25 in the audience, and he was amused to note that some of us remembered paying 12 cents to take in a Capitol matinee with news, cartoons, serial and main feature. Imagine, 12 cents, and that included 2 cents tax. Norma (Trawin) Gordon's mother was the matron then and she and her flashlight kept Stuart Smart's rows of seats in order even with all those kids.
The show was well done, with lots of music and dance sequences, so the evening passed very quickly. We then adjourned to the Tim Horton's on Toronto Road for the late-night wrap where Doug and I had a chance to visit with friends old and new. Cathy and Brian O'Connor, Joyce (Martin) Smith, Glenda (Tinney) Cook, Jacquie (Kelly) Bragger, Floyd Beebe joined the Balletts, Richards, Garnet Clayton, Irene Poulin, and John and Muriel (Ferguson) Bell to talk and get acquainted, or in some cases, re-acquainted.
I couldn't stay too late since I had to get to the Craft Show in the Town Hall Park at 8am the next day.
It was back to the Comfort Inn for most of us but Irene was booked at the Walton House on Walton Street (where Jacquie Bragger used to live.) They chatted about the house and what room she had.
Saturday morning found us at the park on time. Floyd brought my table, chairs, and bins of stuff for the show in his van, so we were set up and ready by about 9.
People who were at the Farmers' Market wandered over to the Arts and Crafts Show booths.
Lawrence and Lois Boyko were on hand selling fresh grown garlic and Lois came over to say hi as Larry ran the stall. Phil Boyko had woodworking items for sale, and Marg (Nichol) Money was selling her paintings in the booth beside him. Milton Baulch was there with his wonderful wooden toys.
It was nice to see Janet (Dayman) Snelgrove at the Happy Hookers' booth next to mine and they had a steady stream of interested people who may try their hand at this craft this winter.
The smell of peameal bacon on the barbeque nearby was too much for many of us to resist.
Joan (Freeman) Little, Barb (Haultain) Loucks, the Cook sisters, Patricia and Joan (Hills), whom I had not seen since 1955 stopped by, as did Rhoda (Clayton) Bullen, Shirley (Devine) Dobos and the O'Connors, Richards, Balletts, Jacquie and Irene.
A couple of young ladies were looking at the things on my table when it suddenly dawned on me who they were - I only see them in Christmas photos that their mum, my sister Virginia, sends. Without telling me, they had gotten up very early in Fulton, NY, near Syracuse, and driven to Port Hope just to say hello and see who might be on hand. My nieces, Karen and Janis, seemed to have fun watching the expression on my face as I couldn't quite believe they were standing there. Ginni of course had remained out of sight behind me to enjoy the shock effect. They had to be back in the USA for a Sunday function with inlaws so didn't stay more than a couple of hours, but it was nice to have that time with them. Sometimes, I think people don't believe I have a family for it is always just Doug and I who show up at these functions. Everyone is too far away to just drop by.
We were able to pack up and load the bins back in Floyd's truck and, having decided not to take time to return to the hotel, went straight to the Red Rice Restaurant to prepare a welcoming committee for those arriving for the 5:00 pm start. Brian and Cathy O'Connor, Bruce and Fran Ballett and Bob and Mercedes Richards were on the scene quickly too, so the sound system was set up and tested and we had name tags, balloons, flowers, etc in place as the Alumni began to filter in. The best laid plans, of course, can go awry and we were unable to play the disc of Pomp & Circumstance which I had hoped to have running in the background. You may know it better as Land of Hope & Glory. Anyway, it didn't happen and we had to dissuade Doug, Bruce and Rico from singing to make up for the loss.
Also had plans to get everyone to sign a sheet protesting the mess that has been made of the park on the Mill Street side of the Ganaraska and had many clippings and books but never got a chance to put them on display, since I was so busy at the door with people arriving early, as suggested, to visit. Brian and I were tied to the table making change, doing tags and making sure everyone got a place to sit that suited them. We had some no-shows, which hurt our numbers, but that's to be expected, and while we missed them all, at least they called or emailed later to let us know they were held up for a good reason.
Town Councillor David Turck (son of Ray and Eileen of Turck's Restaurant of our youth) was on hand and we'd hoped to have him say a few words about the Park, but Bruce, the MC, wasn't aware of this idea and I never got a chance to clue him in.
People enjoyed the self-serve buffet and found seats to sit and chat with old or new faces. Brian and Bruce kept the crowd entertained with a few stories and jokes, and Brian made a nice dedication of the event to Gerry O'Brien's Memory with a moment's silence for Gerry and others we have recently lost.
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It is our plan to purchase a paving stone with Gerry's name and birth date to be placed in front of the Capitol from Reunion 2011alumni. It will cost about $100, including engraving, which we had hoped to pay for with any extra from the door fees. However, with the 20 or so who were unable to attend, we really didn't even come close to having cash to do it yet. Several people left money with us on Sunday so we have a small amount set aside to make sure this gets done. If you would like to contribute,we would be happy to receive whatever you can spare. The cost of the sound system, balloons, etc, has been looked after by yours truly. Would like to take a picture of the Stone when it's in place and make sure that Larry O'Brien and Myrt Puterbaugh get to see it. Neither was able to be here this weekend, unfortunately.
There were so many things to cover in such a brief time, but I did get to pay off on a bet with Bruce made about 7 years back when we connected for the '05 reunion. He was adamant that Gould's Shoes was on the south side of Walton Street and I was equally positive that it had been in the spot by the alley-way which runs along behind the north side businesses. I finally called Mrs Norm Gould (Toad Zealand) who had been a friend of my mother's and asked if she could settle the matter, so I had my toonie on hand and presented it to Mr Ballett in front of many witnesses and had to eat my words.
Also mended a bridge with David Strong that he didn't know was a problem. His dad and mine were schoolmates at PHHS years ago and both were members of the Board of Trade when it began in Port Hope, but there was a falling-out and they didn't speak to each other for many years. Never knew what the problem was, but I have avoided David for a long time, not knowing if he was aware of the disagreement. He wasn't, so we had a nice chat about what had gone before. It was so nice to see him and Donna (Groome) Strong, and to have Rosemary (Groome) Savich join them as well. Their brother, Charlie, had spent quite a bit of time with us at the '05 reunion weekend and now he is gone.
Marg Dayman and husband Ken Weiss joined us from the Class of '55. Sharon and Roger Hewson, Elaine and Mauri Simpson, Glenda Cook and Joyce Smith were on hand. Nathalie and Nancy (Brum) Jordan, Owen and Dorothy Lent, Bill and Rose Minaker came from Peterborough.
Shirley (Pointer) Harrison, Ted and Nancy (Coleman) Jex, Floyd Beebe, Jim Dillworth, John and Meredith Boughen, all still Port Hopers, were there.
Ron and Jean (Sheridan) Wood of Toronto; Carol (Mustard) Hunt and brother Alan Mustard, Norma (Trawin) Gordon, David and Shirley (Stephenson) Lawley, from West Lorne; Karl Lenahan, Doug and Joan Patterson Palmer, now of Cobourg, Irene Poulin, Quebec's Eastern Townships, Jacquie Kelly Bragger, Burlington, her brother Bob Kelly and his wife Grace, Port Hope and Mark Clayton, of Ajax.
Brian had Betty Knight, Jacquie DeMille, all the way from Australia, the Boughens, etc from his era, so the age range was quite wide. Everyone seemed to enjoy just talking about the town and past times. There were lots of hugs and exchanges of email addresses, so the winter may not seem quite so long for those who communicate and keep the conversation flowing. We had some fun prizes for a few from afar.
As I was settling the bill with the Red Rice lady, I got a phone call, asking for me directly. It was from Arizona and the voice said he had some special people on hand who wished to pass along greetings to those in attendance, and he referred to P J Bigelow and George L Brackenbury who wanted the fellows to know how much they had enjoyed having them for the Cadet Corps in the nice itchy uniforms. Nice to have Ray 'Doc' Kelly participate from such a distance.
We passed the information along when some of us met again at the Tim Horton's on Toronto Road for a night cap. This time, John and Mary (Lawson) Hancock came along to talk with the group. It had been a long and eventful day, so we didn't stay too late, as we were expected to be in the Rotary Park for a 10:00 am brunch. Many goodbyes and hugs passed around for some weren't going be around the next morning.
We had a whole other group show up for the brunch, having been unable to make Saturday night. Ron and Marge Cameron, Peter Abrams, Gerry and Jean (Ferguson) Beebe, Rhoda (Clayton) Bullen, and Elaine Simpson since we hadn't had a chance to talk much at the Red Rice. The Balletts, O'Connors, Boughens, Floyd Beebe, and my cousin Sandra (McMahon) Hoy were there.
Bruce and Jacquie picked up a variety of sandwiches and wraps and cold drinks for brunch.
As we were getting ready to call it a day, Adria (Paxton) Campbell managed to find us in the park, having missed the Saturday she drove down from Peterborough to see if she might find anyone she knew. I hadn't seen her for so many years that we had to stop and count back. Lots of fun!
The Balletts had to get back to St Catharines, and the O'Connors were off to Collingwood to visit with Rosemary (Walden) Elliott and husband George, so would still driving for a couple of hours. We decided to stay over another night so went to dinner at the Railside with Floyd and he graciously offered to return the sound system to George's Guitar in Cobourg on Monday, which was a great help. Had to pay St Lawrence Flowers for balloons, and flowers (It is owned and operatead by Fern McCracken's daughters, Heather and Wendy, and they are just terrific to work with, so obliging. Keep them in mind if you need to send or order flowers.
All in all we left quite a bit of cash in the town, had a wonderful time with so many from times past, rekindled some memories and just enjoyed seeing everyone. We did miss YOU but it wasn't because we didn't try to get you there!! On arriving home, there were 44 emails and about 8 phone messages, telling me why folks were unable to make it and that was too bad. Some of the good manners your mothers taught showed through as we got thank you notes and were told how much fun people had, so it was all worth the effort.
Again, my heartfelt thanks to Owen, Nathalie, Floyd, Bruce and Fran, Brian and Cathy, Bob and Mercedes, and Garnet and Mark for all their help and input. It sure helps to have a great team to count on. If I ever decide to do something on the spur of the moment again, I'll know just where to start to get volunteers. Love to hear from any of you anytime.
Thanks so much for helping to create more happy memories for all of us! (Doug slept for about three days, trying to catch up).
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