For the seventeenth time in the past eighteen years, and for the tenth time at Herman's Garage, many of the Beltsville Shell faithful attended a reunion on Sunday, October 25th 2020.
Back Row: Tick Magnum, Annie McFarland, Steve Anderson, Malcolm Van Kirk, Herman Knauer, Nace DeLauter, Steve Van Kirk, Sonny Boteler, Tom Hontz, Brian Lister, and Bonnie Hontz
Front Row: Pat Anderson, Cary, Bill Goodwin, Canon, and Nan
Present but not in the photo: Al Becke, Mary Jane Goodwin, Doug Keys, Nick Southern, Bonnie Williams, and Tammy Yokum
Cautiously and respectfully we navigated past the COVID-19 threat to come together again in camaraderie and friendship. Attendance was lighter than in recent years, as anyone would expect. But neither the pandemic, nor the chilly arrival of Fall, could temper our spirits.
Herman's Garage is the perfect venue for the BSYAWYD reunions because there is ample space, lots of interesting cars and projects to look at, a rural setting (so if we get slightly rowdy the neighbors won't care), and, best of all, it is in Beltsville!
Herman and Tammy arranged the tables in the garage with social distancing in mind.
Herman played our favorite oldies. Musically I'm trapped in a period from about 1957 to about 1972. A tune played that I had not heard for a very long time bringing back fond memories -- Wild Weekend by the "Rockin' Rebels" (1963). A classic High Point High School Class of 1965 Instrumental!
Everyone bought their favorite dishes -- Tom Hontz' brats, Nace's deviled eggs, Malcolm's celebratory cake, and much more.
Herman treated us to a delicious grilled sirloin tip roast and brats, and made his famous "Beltsville Ribs". Hopefully at next years' reunion Lynn (Moore) Stephens will make her famous "Saint Louis Ribs". Sounds like a cooking contest to me!?
Tammy's daughter Bonnie Williams and her boyfriend, Nick Southern, helped with all the arrangements. Thank you!!!
It seems that every time we have a reunion, no matter what time of year, there is a birthday to be celebrated. This time it was Bill Goodwin, who came with his wife, Mary Jane, from Delaware.
Other people who crossed the Chesapeake Bay to attend were Tom and Bonnie Hontz and Steve Anderson.
Herman has been entertaining himself by fabricating many things. In addition to his famous 'built from scratch" truck, he has recently designed and constructed a Go Kart and a MiniBike. I was hoping to test drive each of them in Herman's back yard, but the weather deprived me of those joys. Maybe next year?
Nan went to a lot of trouble in 2020 to order custom made Beltsville shirts for everyone -- and everyone repaid her labors by wearing their shirts to Herman's.
Here is a photo of the people who have attended the most BSYAWYD Reunions: Nace, Sonny, and Cary - all 17, and Tom 15 out of 17!
This year there were two newcomers Pat Anderson, Steve's younger brother, and Doug Keys, one of Herman's neighbors. There was also a surprise guest -- Canon! Everyone has suffered through me bragging about Canon for years. On the flip side, Canon has listened her whole life to my tales about all my Beltsville buddies, sprinkled with stories from our youth. Everyone got a chance to visit with Canon and I was so happy to overhear the sharing and laughter -- it was impossible to tell who was happier in these initial encounters.
We find ourselves in the season of illness and of losing friends and family members. As I looked around the room I saw a few specific, recent examples of such losses. These special friends understand the importance of living every day to its fullest, and delaying no kindness for another day. Any disagreements, grudges, or disputes we may have had in our youth have sublimated with the passage of a half century.
If all of the above wasn't enough to sour your mood, we were all enduring this years' difficulties -- an impending contentious election, the pandemic, social unrest, economic stress, and a Country enduring internal strife. In some magical way we managed to leave 2020 in the parking lot for a few peaceful hours together.
Thinking back now on that special Sunday, the words of a Beatles song come to mind -- the words that mark the early pages of Beltsville Shell
Too soon came the time for the party to end. Gradually people departed, but everyone promised to come again next year.
Annie and Tick promoted the idea that next time we need dancing! I like that idea even though I can't dance.
Until we see you again in 2021, and hopefully in person, please be safe and healthy.
Herman and Cary