Southwest Region, 1st Semi-Annual Gathering
12 February 2003
It all started back in November or December of 2002 when I received a telephone call from a fellow named Warren Cowles. My first thought was that this was a telemarketer trying to sell me another house or useless service. WRONG! Warren identified himself as a former RMA Cadet from the Class of "54 and was inviting me to a Mini-Reunion or gathering of former cadets and faculty who lived in the great Southwestern United States. Furthermore, Warren stated that the reunion would be held in Scottsdale, AZ since the majority of alumni in the southwest were concentrated in the Phoenix area.
For me, who, due to physical and other limitations, is unable to travel long distances this was a no-brainer. "Sure", I said, "I'll be there with bells on."
Christmas and New Year's Holidays came and went. As the end of January loomed my thoughts turned to…well, Valentine's day (my wife would kill me if I forgot that). I also looked at the calendar and the flyer Warren had sent me which was prominently affixed to the refrigerator door as a reminder--less than 2 weeks 'till the Mini-Reunion or Gathering as I choose to call the function.
I made arrangements with my employer to take the day off. I was getting excited! I looked at the roster of potential attendees Warren supplied…21 potential attendees. A good number! Only two fellows, Ken Polich '69 and Lehman Vaughn '70, were from graduating classes close to my own Class of '66--but, hey, I was still excited. In fact, as I looked at the addresses on the roster, I found that Ken Polich actually lives in the same town as me.
I immediately called Ken's home. No answer. So left a message and called again a night or two later. Still no answer…left another message. So February 12th finally comes. My phone rings. "Hi, this is Ken Polich. My wife said you were trying to reach me…" So I explained who I was and that I was getting ready to leave for Scottsdale and the gathering (maybe mini-reunion does sound better). "Do you want to go?", I aked. "When are you leaving?", Ken responded. "Ten minutes", I answered. "OK..I'll follow you down."
The day was overcast. It was one of those rare days in the desert when the temperature is cool and rain is on the way. Warren had told me that Bill Stein was going to be flying his private plane from New Mexico, picking him up in El Paso, Texas and landing in Scottsdale to be at the luncheon. Being a private pilot myself, I looked up and thought..."Either Bill is instrument rated or he's flying VERY low to be under these clouds."
Ken and I arrived at the Hilton Inn and began looking around for an RMA placard. None. I asked at the reception desk and they pointed us toward the resteraunt. The resteraunt was empty, so, of course we next headed for the bar/lounge. Nope! Finally we wandered outside and there, in the courtyard, was another bar with a small group of refined gentlemen (I can hear you chuckling already!) chatting. "Is this the RMA group?" I aked. "Dean Nyhart, Class of '45", came the reply accompanied by a smile and a handshake. "I'm Larry Anderelli, '66 and this is Ken Polich, class of '69." From there on, stories, a couple beers and a wonderful lunch progressed.
At some point I realized that I had forgotten my digital camera at home, so I went to the hotel gift shop and purchased a disposable. Before lunch was over, I had managed to get snaps of nearly everyone. Roger Spurr '46, snuck in some time after the flashes started so I didn't get a shot of him, but after lunch we were all able to coerce one of the waiters to catch us as a group in front of the Grand Canyon mural…a moment in history.
Shortly after 3 the group started to break up. Ken Polich snuck out quietly, so I didn't even get to say goodbye. Smiles and handshakes followed with a group decision to try to get together twice a year. Hopefully next time we'll have more time to share life stories and toast our comrades.
I dropped Bill Stein and Warren Cowles off at the Scottsdale Airport on my way home. I trust their flight was uneventful and safe. In the ensuing month since the "Gathering", I have made some modest efforts to contact some other class mates and faculty from my time at RMA.
I hope to see everyone from Arizona and (hopefully) the Southwest Region at the next Gathering. Furthermore, I hope we have a HUGE turnout in Las Vegas for the 2004 Reunion.
---Photos and text by Larry (Anderson) Anderelli, RMA Class of '66