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Young and old meet at Class of '44 reunion

Published Aug. 31, 2005

What a day it was, a celebration of traditions and new ideas.

At lunchtime Friday, the St. Petersburg High School Class of 1944 held a mini reunion at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

On the planning committee were C.O. Ritch, Miriam Gilbart Williams, Kitty Morrison Hanskat, Anne Fielding Ford, Virginia Ford Parker, Barbara Peters Sexton, Gene Bauerlein, Jean Hill Franklin, Aimee Hummell Shingler, Emily Jackson Hawkins, Marty Rudy Wallace and Dr. Joe Burns, the perennial president of the class.

Current SPHS students representing second-, third- and fourth-generation families to attend the school were Meggie and Drew Ford, Tori Ritch, Daniel and Hannah Wallace and Cameron and Kendall Williams.

Also attending were SPHS principal Linda Benware, Charles Kaniss, Gene Williams, Lesli Williams, Joanna Ritch, the Rev. Don Nichols of Jacksonville, Jack Carey and John Lindstrom.

At the Museum of History on Friday, patrons at Wine Tasting with a Twist recounted "things you would never tell your parents growing up in St. Petersburg."

Denny Rusinow took first place for his tales of boyhood escapades designed to flush out Nazi spies. Tracey Gross' reticence to fit shoes at her first paying job won second place, and Tom Miller took third with his descriptions of pranks.

"I never cut a blade of grass" to earn money, Miller said afterward. He and his pals would rent a boat for a quarter a day, load it with a "nickel's worth of ice and a No. 3 wash tub" and use lures to catch redfish, snook and flounder.

Then, the boys sold their catch to Doc Webb's "Most Unusual Drug Store," making big money for the time _ $6 on a good day.

A common caper was to pack passengers into car trunks, trying to sneak extra patrons into the 28th Street Drive-In on Dollar Night. Invariably, the guilty were caught and had to pay up.

After the Vinoy hotel closed, it only appeared to have been abandoned: There were sporting events including volleyball tournaments inside, and it was a favorite spot for consuming restricted substances.

Among those I saw Friday were Harriet Strum, Rutland Bussey, Eva Rudolph, Suzanne Clark, Sally Poynter, Bill McDonald, Skip Bogert, Lisa Allison, Alisa Jenkins, Melody and Brad Stang, Betty Jean Miller, Carrie Johnson, Nikki Life, Jane and Sterling Weems, Joyce LaFray, Dr. Ken and Carolyn Koslowski, Margaret Word Burnside and Aaron Fodiman, Caroline Spencer, Marilyn Armstrong, Douglas Swain, Bobbi O'Malley, Betty Blanks, Mathias Bergendahl, Dave and Linda Punzak and Robin O'Dell.

Aila McEwen brought her houseguest, Katie Wylie, of Spruce Pine, N.C., and McEwen entered her own confession into the book. "One night after a benefit dance at the Coliseum," she wrote, "I noticed, going home, Augusta bricks were piled up on Coffee Pot Boulevard. So at 1 a.m., in an evening gown and high heels, I filled the trunk of my Pinto with Augusta bricks and laid them into a patio."

Sponsors included Betty R. Bussey, Sally Poynter, Joe and Ellen Bullers, Jim Conte, Hubbard's Marina, Evos, Reno Beach Surfshop, Act 1 Promotions, Bert Smith Euro Collection, California Ciccio, Gateway Florist, Wilsey Auto, Bob Lee's Tire Co., David Reynolds Jewelers, Applause Hair and Nails, Catering by Lundy's, Tampa Bay magazine, Rogers dry cleaners, Lawson Financial, Sekas Custom Pools, Nexxtworks, Revolution Bikes and Pamela A.M. Campbell.

At the Florida Orchestra Guild ShowHouse Gala on Friday evening, guests toured the refurbished house in Pinellas Point where Dr. Royce Hobby and his late wife, Jane, reared their family.

The spectacular waterfront view includes the Sunshine Skyway bridge, and favorite details inside the house were the glass bowl used as a sink basin in the guest bathroom and the kitchen mural that included a depiction of Queenie, the woolly monkey that once was a family pet.

Hobby and the former Priscilla Young, who married last year, greeted visitors and volunteers, including Pat LaMonde, Bernice McCune, Mary Ann and Bruce Marger, Betty Coomber, Ruth Gray, Terry and Irv Ray, Dr. Susan Beaven, Herb and Sheila Tempelmann, Alice and Harold Radcliffe, Lois and Marvin Atkins, Joyce and Skipp Fraser, Dot Admire, Connie Kone, Ed Campbell, Helen Torres, Vera Brantley, Louise and Lloyd Chapin, Pat Howells, Mary Shuh, Dr. Susan and Peter Betzer, Jan Audette, Luisa Perez Harvey, Edie Spies and John Murphy and Cary Bond Thomas and Frank Blandford.

Suzan Decker Ross and Susan Taylor coordinated designers for the event. Greta Myers is president of the guild, and Lorraine Danna is gala chairwoman.

Louise Weaver opened her home in St. Petersburg on Friday night for "As Time Goes By," a Casablanca-themed benefit for the Florida Blood Services Foundation.

I arrived just as the party was winding down, in time to say hello to Bud and Fran Risser, Gary and Nancy Keller, Doug Chadwick, Jack and Fran Nohren, Tom Stovall and Edie Pace.

Co-chairwomen for the event were Lucie Campbell and Martha Kehm, assisted by Mary Wyatt Allen, Vikkii Block, Sue Hands, Nancy Keller, Gray Mattern, John Migliorelli, Betsy Owens, Joty Puckett and Jack Regan.

Underwriters included Progress Energy, Derby Lane, William R. Hough & Co., the Maurice and Thelma Rothman Philanthropic Fund and Ted and Jean Wittner.

Jane Riley Leach, executive director of the foundation, told me that Florida Blood Services is one of only six centers in the nation that supplies blood to the military.

The organization recently announced it would begin testing blood for bacterial infections.

Another Friday evening fundraiser, held in the home of Dr. Larry and Sarah Williams, benefited the Florida West Ballet. Cocktails at Sunset featured food donated from Chateau France and decorations in pink, black and white.

Co-hosts were Chris and Kim Moench, Brian and Lynn Barker, Michael and Jacqueline Blacker and Mark Chmielewski and Linda Jantschek. I also said hello to Sandy and Dan Bergstrom, Robin Perozzi, Sugar PieWiedeburg and Gretchen Williams.

Details of last Saturday's events will appear Sunday.

_ Mary Jane Park can be reached at (727) 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail; P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.