A September to remember: Tales for my 67th class reunion
By Marv Kohlbeck
Wth my 67th class reunion this weekend, I need to bone up on some news tidbits to sprinkle in with the usual reunion conversation of health and retirement issues. Our Valders High School class of 1949’s 64 graduates have dwindled down to 27 that could attend, but only 19 are expected to be present for the noon luncheon on Sept. 10. I am glad to be among those striving to be the last one standing that can lay claim to a cheap bottle of wine.
Following the noon meal will be the familiar pattern of each classmate telling about personal highlights of the past year. I will be anxious to tell about the unplanned incident that I experienced one day while attending the auction and show at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Neillsville in mid-September last year, just a week after the 66th class reunion.
The 2015 auction had an unbelievable amount of farm and household sale items. Instead of looking for bargains, my buddy and I opted for an early lunch so we could view the afternoon horse auction. We sat among some other horse enthusiasts, and after overhearing some of their conversation, I asked one of the fellows where he was from.
It startled me when he said, “Valders, in the eastern part of the state.” I then mentioned that Valders is where I went to high school and that I had attended my 66th class reunion at a local Valders supper club the week prior.
He then asked, “What year did you graduate?”
I stated, “1949.”
He retorted, “I had a sister that graduated from there in 1949.” Then of course I asked him what his name was, and he said, “Christianson.” I immediately shot back the name Lenore. “Yup,” he replied, “that’s my sister.”
Not to be outdone, he then asked me what my name was, and when I indicated “Kohlbeck,” he immediately mentioned that he has neighbors by the name of David and Penny Kohlbeck. I think he was stunned when I said they are my nephew and his wife.
I could throw in a bonus experience to my reunion friends by stating that on the same evening of our 2015 reunion, my brother and I were dining at another local supper club where we met two guys that graduated a few years before me.
Norb, one of the fellows, said, “What are you doing here?”
My response was, “If it wasn’t for your brother Seb, I wouldn’t be here.”
I could tell he was confused by my answer, so I went on to say, “Back in the late ‘40s I was staying with my grandpa and grandma so I would be closer to my job at the pea canning factory in Valders. As my grandparents did not have indoor plumbing, Seb and I decided to go down to the river to clean up. The river was probably 75 yards wide, and Seb suggested that we swim across the river. I told him I was not a very good swimmer but would follow him.
“About half way across I felt I could not make it any farther, so I stuck my arm in the air and shouted, ‘Seb, I’m going down.’ The next thing I remember is that I was lying on the shore. Seb had jumped back into the river and saved me. He then swam back across the river to find a boat so that he could transport me back to the safe shoreline.”
Norb’s response was, “Seb never told me about that,” and I responded, “I never told anyone either, until now.”