More on our 50-year Class Reunion:
ASIJ BBQ Doro Kami 2004
Sincere thanks to our 1958 classmate Kathy (Bergt) Sandor for the photos (there are some more in the photo album section) and for the great report on the 2004 ASIJ Doro Kami BBQ get together.
I’ve returned from my first ASIJ Reunion and so sorry that all of you missed it, even Andy Blum, who had been planning to attend but had to cancel out due to illness. Helen Dewey also didn’t make it and we were all sorry they couldn’t be there.
The reunion was at a resort in beautiful Rowley’s Bay at northern tip of Door County peninsula in Wisconsin. There were 14 former students: Niels Lyster (49), Joan Ritonia (49), Meredith Woods Potter (52), Kathy Bergt Sandor (58), Monica (Wada) Oliver (61), Alix Olson (65), Virginia Kerr (67), Dan Garnitz (70), Jean Oliver Holder (82) and five from the class of 74: Celeste Giunta, Steve Sundberg, Brent Ware, Mirja Karikoski and Eiko Fukuda. Three former faculty attended: Motoko Huthwaite (whom you might remember as Miss Fujishiro, elementary teacher (54-64), Jim Juergensen, principal (76-81) and Steve Myers (70-74). With spouses and children we were 38 altogether.
You’ll notice that some of these attending were from those years just before ASIJ reopened as a private school in 1952, when we were in 7th grade. Several of them were involved in the panel discussion of how ASIJ had influenced their lives. I found it particularly interesting to hear Niels Lyster’s account of attending when our school was Tokyo American School for military dependents, how it grew quickly until Narimasu was opened. He said about half of the TAS students went over to Narimasu, so that the following year TAS teams were playing against their former classmates.
Celeste Giunta and Jean Holder were co-chairmen of this reunion and did a great job of planning. One of their ideas (which must have been a lot of work) was “ASIJ Jeopardy”, which was the highlight of the first evening, after the barbecue supper. Saturday morning after the panel discussion, we all took a ferry over to Washington Island and enjoyed lunch and then a delightful tour as we rode on a Cherry Train. Friday evening was the Fish Boil – a great picture-taking opportunity and delicious fish caught that morning in Rowley’s Bay.
Steve Sundberg then gave a fascinating slide/powerpoint tour of Tokyo in the ‘20’s and 30’s. If you’re wondering who was there to take slides in those years, his pictures were all from Japanese postcards, which he has collected, many purchased on ebay! How unique to see scenes of Ueno Park, Imperial Hotel, Takashimaya Department Store etc. from before any of us were even born!
At this point in the evening, some of us donned the yukatas we’d brought along, the music was turned on and then Motoko and Monica taught us all Tankobushi and another Japanese dance. I don’t know about the others, but for me this was what really made me feel like I was back in Japan. The music was going through my mind for days afterwards!
A few more events continued Sunday –an ecumenical service, breakfast buffet and then a jazz performance at a nearby camp—but my husband and I had left early Sunday morning so were not there at that time. Oh, before the reunion ended we also had a discussion of when and where to hold the next regional reunion. Several ASIJers in Toronto had put together a proposal to hold it there and it sounded inviting, but nothing definite was decided.
One more note—on our way up to Rowley’s Bay, Don and I stopped in Chicago and had a wonderful visit with Anna (Fang) Wu. She couldn’t attend the reunion because she and her husband were leaving for a trip to China. But the three of us did a lot of reminiscing while having lunch at Ed Debevic’s, a fifties diner in downtown Chicago.