Childhood predictions come to life at 65th reunion
By Frank Abderholden firstname.lastname@example.org September 20, 2013 12:11PM
The Mother of God Catholic elementary school Class of 1948 gathered at a Gurnee restaurant Sept. 18 to exchange stories and remember old times. | Frank Abderholden/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 20, 2013 3:34AM
A group of graduates from Mother of God Catholic Elementary School’s Class of 1948 gathered at a Gurnee restaurant recently to exchange stories and remember old times.
The 65th reunion effort was sparked by Robert Russell, 80, of Grayslake. His daughter, Nanette Dickinson of Atlanta, Ga., helped by digging up some of his old yearbooks to create a display. It also included a picture Russell drew in elementary school, the class’ graduation picture, words to the class song and a list entitled Class Prophecy that detailed predictions from each of the eighth graders.
Dickinson also received a congratulatory letter from Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago.
“I was in complete shock when I found out my dad organized this event for the 13 young graduates,” Dickinson said.
Each of the attendees were 78 to 80 years old.
“My father speaks so fondly of those years,” Dickinson said. “I actually have his workbooks from Mother of God, pictures he has done that I have framed, a newspaper clipping where he and two other students were photographed next to a Woody because they were chosen by Red Cross to go for the day to Druce Lake for a camp.”
Russell didn’t know his daughter was going to create the elaborate display and contact a local newspaper for a story.
“It was a surprise to me. She did more than I did,” he said with a laugh. “I knew nothing about any of it.”
Russell, who served as a Grayslake trustee for more than 20 years, said he began to think about organizing the reunion while bored in front of the TV. He thought about his 60th Grayslake High School reunion last fall, which motivated him to dig up his elementary school list.
With a little help from classmates Rudolph Glogovsky and Virginia (Ivkovcic) Kutzler, they contacted 13 of the 17 classmates that are still alive. All but two, John Miks and James Dolence, made it. Classmates who have passed include Joanne Keller, James Chapernick, Lauretta Merlock and Charlotte Istok.
“We used to practice saying Mass, remember that,” said Ronald Baruffi, who was known to be boisterous back in the day and still was at the reunion dinner Sept. 18 at In-Laws restaurant in Waukegan. “Remember when Father came up to me and said ‘You don’t sing, you just move your lips.”
The school was located near 10th street and Wadsworth Avenue, but was sold by the archdiocese a long time ago.
There was a tradition in which seventh-graders made prophecies about the eight-graders. At the reunion, the group checked the predictions to see how accurate they were.
Frank Milner was supposed to be a ”preacher of renown.” That prompted his wife, Rosalie, to laugh.
“Preacher!” she said loudly. “No, he’s in the plastics business.
Her husband fondly remembered how he would take the church offerings to the bank on his motorbike called the Whizzer.
“The priest said ‘You just be careful’ and he put a bunch of rubber bands around it. ‘Make sure you get a receipt,’” he said.
Kutzler also laughed at her prophecy, which said he would have acclaim as a dancer.
“I was a polka dancer. I loved to polka, We always polka (danced),” she said.
James Habjan was predicted to become a circus performer.
“It’s all a bunch of hooey... I never did, but I went to a couple of them,” he said.
Thomas Koncan was supposed to be a farmer in blue jeans with a heart of gold.
“I got the family and I got the heart. I lost the blue jeans, that’s where I got the family,” he joked.
Leonard Petrovic was supposed to famous and rich.
“I’m still looking for it. I do write letters to the editor. About the million, that’s what I owe,” he said.
Sylvia (Zorc) Trygar was supposed go live on a farm.
“I live close to a farm, but I don’t have any chickens,” she said.
Carol (Miklik) Eklof was supposed to be a airplane hostess.
“Maybe it’s a little true. I love to fly,” she said.
Kutzler had fun looking at the old books.
“This is just a wonderful experience,” she said.
“Everyone was surprised and happy about it,” he said, “It turned out good. It was nice.”
Afterwards Petrovic said everyone was talking about having a 70th reunion.
“I said let’s do a 75th, but they don’t want to gamble that much,” he said.