Denfeld News

Aug. 19, 2005
Duluth Budgeteer News

Friends forever rings true for 1953 Denfeld grads
By Anna Kurth

The drive of Mary Larson’s Hutchinson Road home is filled with cars, and the sound of talk and laughter floats from the backyard over the front lawn.

The doorbell rings unnoticed as all attention is focused on the group of friends sitting in a circle talking in the shade of a backyard tree.

The house is not the scene of a teenage hangout, but what results when a group of teenage girls stay in touch for more than 50 years and get together to celebrate their 70th birthdays.

Twelve 1953 Denfeld High School graduates came together on Aug. 5 to reminisce and update each other on their lives.

The 12 women are from a group of 16 girls who became friends throughout preschool, junior high and finally high school, said Claudia (Christianson) Nimrichter, one of the group who now lives in Florida.

“We were all together in high school,” Nimrichter said. “We were nice girls. We all kept in touch all this time.”

The memories come flooding back each time they all get together.

On Saturday afternoons when the women were in junior high they’d all go to the movies in the afternoon at either the Doric or West Theater, which are both closed now, said Karen (Johnson) Somrock of Duluth, another member of the group.

At that time, each girl would bring a quarter and spend 12 cents on a movie ticket and 12 cents on a hot fudge Sunday afterward, and each would have a penny left over, Nimrichter said.

“We’d call each other ... so we’d all get on the same bus,” she said, adding that they usually ended up angering the bus driver with all their chatter.

The chatter didn’t stop on the buses either. The group also got together for pajama parties, she said.

And the chatter is still going strong today.

When they get together these days, the women talk and show pictures, and after a lifetime of friendship they have gobs of pictures to share, Somrock said.

The group’s Aug. 5 get together began with chatting and pictures and continued with a catered dinner from Exchange Deli Bakery Catering, complete with birthday cake, Pat (Munger) Lehr said. On Aug. 6, the women had breakfast together and had an afternoon barbecue with their spouses invited, Nimrichter said.

The women had many different interests in high school, some were in band, some were in a capella choir. Shirley (Smith) Kilgore was the school organist, Darlene (Nelson) Hove was the queen of the graduating class and Dianne “Boots” (Cloutier) Anderson was head majorette.

“I twirled at our 50th anniversary,” Anderson said.

After graduation some of the girls got married and some went away to college, Somrock said.

Five of the women worked together for U.S. Steel, Lehr said.

Their secret for staying friends so long has been keeping in touch, they said. High school reunions, Christmas cards, phone calls and now e-mail have kept them close all these years.

After one of the class reunions they decided to celebrate turning 60 together, and on Aug. 5 it was time to celebrate 70, Somrock said.

The group won’t be waiting 10 years for its next birthday celebration, Nimrichter said. “I had the time of my life,” she said. “It was a wonderful time and now we’re talking about doing it for our 75th.”

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