Gathered around a small table in the lyceum of the former St. Gerard School, eight alumni reminisce about their time at their alma mater - the sock hops, the doughnut kitchen, working as pinsetters for the bowling alley.
"I think the church and the school were the lynchpin of the neighborhood. They were the center," said Tom Ahearn from the class of 1969.
The school on the corner of Bailey and East Delavan closed in 1986 and is now operating as Gerard Place, which provides transitional housing for homeless mothers. The church is now a mosque, but the memories of the parish and community still remain strong.
That's why this group, which spans over 20 years of alumni, is planning a reunion for all graduates of St. Gerard's School. The Aug. 3 party will be held in Msgr. Selbert Hall, starting with a Mass at 4 p.m. celebrated by Father Paul Steller, himself an alum of the school. A tour of Gerard Place will follow. The night will end with dinner and music by Tom Stahl and the Dangerfields.
At the April planning meeting, the organizers were finalizing the menu of pizza and wings, along with a carving station provided by Golden Parachute for fresh beef on weck sandwiches, potato salad and Loganberry cupcakes.
The idea for an all class reunion came while Ahearn, was planning his 50th class reunion. He mentioned it to David Zapfel, executive director of Gerard Place, who suggested holding a reunion for all of St. Gerard's students right on the former school grounds.
"When you take that tour, it takes you back to fifth grade," said Mary Heist. "You can remember the halls, the floors, everything."
"It's amazing what they've done with the buildings," Ahearn added. "Everything is just perfect. It's in better shape then when we went to school."
Tickets are $35. Register online at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a check to Gerard Place. Make sure to mark "reunion" when registering. Space is limited.