A Hoboken Class Reunion……..#267…( 2006)

Frances Marion (Harriott) Willson

Finding no rush to check out of the Holland Hotel in the morning,  Gary trekking to the lobby to secure the complimentary pastries provided, gathering a diet Pepsi for Fran and a cup of coffee for himself awaiting their conveyance to the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel, Fran’s high school classmate Vicki and husband Sal Mattessich accommodating the Willsons’.  The Mattessich’s having accomplished a 380 mile journey from Hubbard Ohio to attend the forty-year reunion of Hoboken High‘s class of 1966.   Departing the Holland Hotel,  Sal at the helm,  the two couples traversing the highway to Rutherford and the Meadowland Hotel  located a mile from Giants Stadium,  home of the National Football New York Giants and Jets.   Gary enjoying the excursion,  finding entertaining humorous moments during their peregrination,  Vicki administering corrections to Sal’s driving,  whom as a truck driver most of his life was quite able,  Sal apparently used to his wife’s comments,  taking it all in stride.   Arriving at the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel their reservations confirmed,  the desk clerk noting Fran’s name,  asserting that a Bob Santangelo had inquired about her,  Bob a Hoboken High classmate.

Fran’s mother Gladys

Fran’s father whom she was named after – Francis Marion Harriot

Francis Harriot in postal uniform

A somewhat older Gladys Helen Harriot


Hoboken Post Office branch named for William E.J. Harriot after Sinatra's demise

Hoboken Post Office branch named for William E.J. Harriot changed to Sinatra after the stars demise







Hoboken Post Office Letterhead

The wives requesting a return visit to  Hoboken ,  Gary and Sal listeners as Fran and Vicky conversed traversing down Washington Street,  designated by the two locals as “The Avenue”.   Fran  anointed as a native of Hoboken, espousing from a full-time working mother and a father that upholded a family occupation as a member of the Postal Service.   Her grandfather William E.J. Harriot a Hoboken Postmaster, the Hoboken Postal Branch named in his honor.  The town having currently evolved from its past, the once primary residence of  3 & 4 storey walk-up apartments now converted into exclusive condominiums with elevators, Fran discerning that this wasn’t the Hoboken she grew up in.   The travelers stopping at Stan’s Sporting Goods a convenience still remaining from the past, Gary now sporting a Hoboken Red Wings hat.  A second stop at the Hoboken City Museum, the entrance inside a walk thru alcove on Hudson St., a single hostess seated at a desk welcoming them.  Gary perceiving the historic photographs of the military shipyard repair docks from both World War I and II.   Posted was a tribute to the once proud factories of Lipton Tea,  Maxwell House Coffee,  Standard Brands,  Hostess,  Todd Shipyard, the infamous Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and the historic Delaware,  Lackawanna and Western train station,  all from a past era enhancing this community of one square mile in area.   Hoboken  a paramount  contributor to the  commence of the nation, but its industrial presence no longer standing, the town just a footnote of its historic past.

Stan's Sporting Goods a school days rememberance

Stan’s Sporting Goods a school days remembrance

The quaint Hoboken City Museum

The quaint Hoboken City Museum

Class of 1966

Class of 1966

Fran and Vicki

Fran and Vicki

The couples stopping for a bite to eat then onto the high school open house, a welcome sign posted greeting the returning graduates,  the building and classrooms awaiting the alumni.    Filing into the auditorium for a welcoming ceremony from the school officials the class dispersing to once again walk the halls of memory.   The assemblage, the classmates exchanging the anamneses of rooms and teachers and specific events of forty years ago,  Gary a meaningful witness to the afterthoughts of those who cherished the past and the throes of youthful exuberance.   The high school tour fulfilled, the two couples and  most of the touring group journeying the two blocks to the  High School athletic field,  the Red Wings football team hosting the Emerson Cavaliers.   A special area  cordoned off for the 1966 alumni,  the school band playing the national anthem, the public address announcer presenting special recognition to the attendance of the alumni.   Gary a high school football enthusiast  soon discovering that the Red Wings  team was in a different league than the struggling  Cavaliers,  a slight rain beginning in the second half,  but like true Red Wings fans they stayed to its conclusion,  the Red Wings winning the game, 61-0,  a gift to the attending alumni.   The evening events coming to a conclusion, Sal and Vicki returning the couple  the Meadowland Renaissance Hotel and an appreciative nights sleep,  the morrow reunion festivities awaiting.

The Meadowland Hotel

The  Renaissance  Hotel

Gary dressing for the occasion, attired in suit and tie,  Fran in her finest,  the Willson’s perambulated downstairs from their room into the Meadowland Hotels large convention center,  Gary rather surprised at the number in attendance.  The dimmed lighting and music of the sixties resonating,  a free beverage bar which include the usual alcohol,  but catered champagne and vintage wines.   An unbelievable buffet,  including calamari and escargot, Gary immediately discerning the difference between the lavished east coast buffet, and a west coast one.  Fran acquainting many fellow students that she hadn’t contemplated in years, jointing classmates Fran Sneyers, Karen Jensen, Nicky and Rita Herr and of course Vicki and Sal, the group all seated at a large table,  her friend Bobby Santangelo making his presence known.   Gary being introduced to the amenities from Fran’s past,  including the current Hoboken Chief of Police,  Carmen LaBruno.   The evening progressed with recognition given to the person traveling the longest distance, being Hawaii and the alumni with the most grandchildren, which surprisingly was the Fran.   The evening coming to a conclusion,  an elevator ride to their room,  the couple weary, but dexterous for their return home.

Newarks Liberty International Airport

Newark’s Liberty International Airport

Victoria Mattesschi

The morning dawning,  Fran and Gary meeting again with Sal and Vicki whom generously proffer their transportation to the Newark Liberty International Airport,  a Boeing 757,  awaiting the their flight home.  The couple for the second time discussing about a stay in Denver for a day,  Fran in the past desiring to acquaint a long time special friend.  John Madden,  whom for over the  past thirty years was a practicing attorney,  their friendship beginning in the 60’s when he was a member of the acclaimed Serendipity Singers.   The prestigious 757 lifting off the ground,  Gary able to see the illustrious observance of Hoboken and the island of Manhattan and New York City,  the remembrance of this visit forever leonine,  a memory not to be forgotten.  Reaching the throes of the morning blue sky,  the winged vessel heading westward,  the magnificent view of the terrain passing beneath the expeditious aircraft,  Gary as usual,  a sentinel of flight , mesmerized by the flow of the earth’s contour,  its splendor a captivating scene,  the hours passing as an abeyance.

An arrival at Denver International Airport, the largest area airport in the United States, providing landings of over 600, 000 aircraft per year,  but not a hub for any major airline with the exception of low-cost Frontier Airlines which caters to only 76 destinations.   The weather was once again a factor for the couple to postpone a layover, thunderstorm and rain,  electing once again to postpone their visit, boarding their scheduled United Airlines flight and continue on to San Francisco.  The 737 United flight from Denver to the west coast was one of familiarly,  Gary once again affixed to window,  absorbing the wonders of flight, descending over the north bay area on its final approach,  the 737 setting down on runway 10R,  their journey about completed.   An hour wait before boarding a United Express Embraer 120 turboprop,  the last leg of their flight.  Again the familiar terrain of the Altamont Pass and the Central Valley coming into view,  their journey to Modesto fulfilled, all that remained was the taxi ride home.

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