Reunion #6 Red Wing, Minnesota

August 13-16, 2008


Fred Crawford did a very nice job in organizing the reunion.  It is a difficult job and he pulled it off very nicely even with the last minute transportation changes, and last minute band problems.  The advance registration was 65 attendees and I believe everyone was accounted for.  We had a drop-in for the day, Tony  Iano ? (62-64).  I missed getting to talk him but appreciate him dropping in.


The casino was huge and the hotel rooms very nice.  Those of us on the back of the hotel and on the upper floors could even get a glimpse of the Mississippi River through the trees.


We started arriving on Wednesday, Aug 13.  A nice reception area was available with a no host bar from 5pm to 9pm.  Everyone relaxed and sat around and visited and shared pictures.  Later some of us gathered in the casino bar to continue visiting. 


Special treats were Bill Thomsen bringing the RAF Kirknewton road sign with him to share with us.  This was the sign that was on the road to the site, and his wife Judy obtained (without him knowing) from the RAF when they closed down the site.  Barney and Jan Pelham brought the flag that was made and donated by Richard (Hawk) and Patricia Littlefield at the Biloxi reunion.  It didn’t arrive in time for the reception but it was flying at the banquet.  Thanks you guys for the special touch.


Thursday morning we boarded the tour boat (a nice mini yacht for lack of a better description) for the Mississippi River cruise.  We were seated at tables that were nicely setup with white tablecloths, then helped ourselves to a superb buffet.  The boat then backed out and went through a lock and cruised for an hour or so sight-seeing,  then turned around and headed back.  We were on our own for dinner, gambling, or whatever you wanted to do.  We found a large secluded lounge that made a good place to hang out.


Friday morning and afternoon we were on our own and many made their way into Red Wing to look around and have lunch.  Red Wing is a nice old city that is very clean and the old red brick buildings are well maintained.  There were artisan shops, the Red Wing Shoe museum and store, as well as Red Wing Pottery and art stores.  It was hard to fathom what it must be like in the winter with the river effect, etc on the weather.  We had lunch in the old hotel’s Verandah restaurant and several more of our group found it also.


That evening 26 of us boarded the bus and went to see the Twins/Mariners night game in the big tent called the Metrodome.  Roger Oleson wore his Mariners cap and rooted for his team.  The rest of us sort of figured it might be prudent to root for the home team, who prevailed 9-3.  Food prices were a little higher than we pay at home.  But then we don’t have major league baseball either. Two beers, a hot dog and a bratwurst was $21.75.    Fred had big poster on our behalf that he held up when the cameras panned the audience and displayed on the big screen.  I don’t think we made the big screen but he certainly tried hard.  There were just too many posters and pretty girls in the crowd..  Truefans photo galleries took 2 or 3 shots of us and they are posted on on August 15, 2008, gallery 17.  There a lot of pictures and you have to scan through to find our group.  You can view them but there is a fee to get a copy.


Early Saturday morning we boarded the bus for the ride into the Mall of America and a day of shopping and just taking in the sights.  Rumor hazit that some people found Hooters.  We arrived back at the hotel at 3:30pm to get ready for hospitality and socializing from 5-7pm and then dinner followed by a dance.  Before dinner a  bagpiper entered and instantly everyone was on their feet taking pictures and clapping.  It was quite a sight as Fred Crawford, Roy Dahl, and his guest Jack Denholm, and the bagpiper were all decked out in kilts and full gear. A lot of pictures were taken and I hope one gets posted of them on Clan Kirknewton as I wasn’t taking pictures. 


Jack and Faye Denholm live in Edinburgh and come over to attend our reunions with Roy and Mary Dahl.  It is interesting that Jack does all the driving for them as they tour around in this country.  He also brought a special bottle of Scotch whiskey with the label he had printed reading RAF Kirknewton on it.  The plan was to raffle it off as well as the blanket that Roger and Helen Oleson’s daughter made and donated, as they did at Colorado Springs reunion.  However, the casino put the kabosh  on our raffle.  Jack Denholm suggested a drawing instead for the bottle of Scotch.  Casino management was then consulted and we were told that we could have a drawing.  The drawing was arranged in a hurry and if my memory serves me right, Frank Reckendorf was the lucky winner.  Roger and Helen decided to keep the blanket for a time that raffle tickets can be sold.  They raised and donated over $400 to the reunion fund from the last blanket raffle, and we all appreciate what Helen, Roger, and their daughter have contributed..


Later it was discovered that not all of the names made it into the hat in time for the drawing.  Sorry, Donovan, but you don’t like Scotch anyway.  He is flexible though.  He said he “would attend a reunion anywhere, even Winnemucca, Nevada”.  So watch for me to sponsor a mini reunion and see if he comes through.  The city’s freeway billboards boasts “Run-a-mucca in Winnemucca”.  We can do it.


Besides the Denholms coming from Edinburgh, Don and Margaret Beets came from where they live in England, so we didn’t even try to claim any traveling kudos.


Another interesting tidbit is that we had a  Navy veteran (with an Edinburgh connection with the nuclear Navy) and his wife attend.  They are neighbors of the Crawfords and If  I remember right their names are Randy and Holly Cooper.  I told him I stayed away from Edinburgh when the Navy fleet was in town.


One of the most touching moments we had, besides the bagpiper, was when Fred Crawford paid tribute to the Fallen Eagles.  He had a table set up in the middle of the room with a folded flag, a flower arrangement, and names of the deceased arranged in a circle around them.  Before dinner he led a tribute and toast to them.  Fred, that was very well done and you have set the standard for future reunions.


Joe Mullican also led us in a toast and tribute to their neighbor in Biloxi,  He is a retired Air Force veteran and they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary at the time of our reunion, so Joe and Bella couldn’t be there. Joe also administers the 50 Year Anniversary Club on Clan Kirknewton.  So if you have reached that mark let him know.  Thanks, Joe.


I said a few brief words about the fact that nobody has come forward with a proposal for the next reunion so it is on hold.  I also introduced the board members (the result of an earlier board meeting) for the next reunion.  The board members are Joe Mullican, Treasurer; Roger Oleson, Secretary,  Barney Pelham, member; Fred Crawford, member; and Harry Hathhorn, chairmen (because nobody else would take it).  For the next reunion I will look at cruises, Roger Oleson will look at the idea of employing a professional reunion organizer, and Fred Crawford will look at ideas from travel agencies.


Ray Swartz said a prayer before the banquet started and then we had a very nice buffet followed by a dance with live music.  It was a nice night indeed.


Sunday morning we were up packing and saying goodbyes.


On the financial side it appears that Fred will break even or very close on this reunion.  When the final accounting is done our treasurer, Joe Mullican, can give us a report on the bank account. 


If  I missed something or got something wrong, I apologize, and please set me straight so that it can be corrected.  Like Joe Mullican once said, “I can walk on water but sometimes my ankles get wet”, or something close to that .  Thanks Joe. 


Regards, Harry