Editor’s note: Whoops! We missed the jump. Here is the entire story on the Melrose St. Patrick’s reunion.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Melrose is making preparations for this year’s second annual Saint Patrick’s Day Reunion, which will be held Saturday, March 16, with the social hour starting at 3:30 p.m., dinner starting at 4:30 p.m., and festivities to continue into the night.
Last year’s first reunion was a resounding success, save for a shortage of corned beef and cabbage that resulted in people having to settle for other delicious options. But attendees didn’t seem to mind that inconvenience, because it turns out food wasn’t the primary reason most people came. Their primary reason was to meet up with childhood friends and extended family, to share old memories and laugh the night away.
Sonny Schroeder, the Master of Ceremonies of last year’s event (and this year’s too!), looked out at the crowd at one point and said, with the slightest of quavers in his voice, how happy it made him to see those with Melrose roots gathered together on the Feast of Saint Paddy, catching up on the lives of those they had loved and in many cases, not seen in decades.
There was a lot going on that night – food, children’s games, Irish dancing, an auction and raffle, and a dance to top it off. But the thing that caught almost everyone’s attention was the pictures of the students of Melrose’s schools displayed along the walls. Underneath each photo was a place for the past students to sign in if they were in attendance, so other classmates would know and could look for them. It was fun to hear the joy in peoples’ voices as they identified themselves, their friends, their parents, their grandparents, and even their great-grandparents.
June Kasper had made it her mission to try to find pictures of every class that attended school in Melrose. For the earliest years she used high school graduation pictures. But that could only get her through 1959, because after that high school students graduated in Albia. So then she started using class pictures from grades K-8, which annually were gathered together in an album and distributed to students, initially with pictures of individual students and teachers in them too. But grades 5-8 were soon transferred to Albia too, leaving only grades K-4 at Melrose Elementary School, the name of which was eventually changed to Kennedy Elementary School. With every passing year the annuals got smaller as the class sizes dwindled in accord with the rural population and cost saving measures limited photos to those of classes only.
June was amazingly successful in finding pictures of almost all the classes. Only nine eluded her, but she is still searching. What she needs are the grade school class pictures of those students who would have graduated high school in 1970-1978 (that would have had them attending Melrose Elementary School in approximately 1957-1965). If you happen to have one of the Melrose school annuals (or even just a photo of a class) from those years, could you please contact June at 641-344-5225 and make arrangements with her so she can make copies of the class photos?
And please come and join in the fun March 16th. There will once again be corned beef and cabbage, or pasta dinners if you prefer, children’s games, an auction, a raffle, Irish music, and a dance. But most importantly there will be old friends, family, and new friends to be made. And all of this for only $10 for the entire evening of food and entertainment!