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From the desk of Dora DePaoli, Feb. 8, 2002

February 16, 2002

What a wonderful, busy week I just had. Most of the residents of Holtville enjoy the festivities connected with the Carrot Festival and the Rib Cook-Off. Perhaps Chamber of Commerce secretary Dana Hawk and Carrot Fest coordinator Marty Dinely, who are overworked at this time of year, are letting out a sigh of relief about now.

Although the Carrot Fest was a lot of fun, the highlight of the week for me was my 50th class reunion and getting to ride on a float in the parade. We had a float thanks to the persistence of Barbara Harrison, a classmate from the Holtville High School Class of '52. About 20 of us rode on it in our white sweatshirts and blue jeans. Many of us wished the parade would have been twice as long.

One of the women in our class showed up in spite of being in the midst of cancer treatment. Her doctor allowed her to suspend chemotherapy for the week to enable her to feel well enough to attend our festivities.

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Our age caught up with us while we were waiting at the parade line-up spot on Maple Avenue. An hour and a half of drinking coffee took its toll. Several of our float riders knocked on the doors of strangers and asked to use the facilities. No one turned them away. Fortunately I knew someone on Maple and knocked on their door.

It was frosting on the cake when we ended up winning first place in our parade category. We couldn't have been any more pleased if we had won the Rose Parade sweepstakes. Winning was a huge surprise. Our float was very basic. Perhaps we received a sympathy vote from the judges and they figured this bunch of seniors weren't likely to be riding in many more parades.

Winning the trophy reminded us of 1949, when we were freshman at Holtville High. We won first place in our category that year. Earl Tankersley played the part of a prospector with his donkey. Our theme was "Good as Gold," and naturally referred to carrots. It wasn't real good for the donkey. It keeled over dead as it stepped off the float.

Over the years our group has had a lot of reunions. We don't just have them every five or 10 years.

One year I remember working on a multi-class reunion. A man responded to the letter we had mailed to his wife asking if she would be attending the get-together. He emphatically said she would not. "She's dead," the note stated. To make certain we took him seriously he enclosed a copy of her death certificate. None of us would have doubted him, but the thought ran through my mind that "he doth protest too much!" As a longtime fan of mysteries I briefly considered that he might have rubbed her out!

A few days before this reunion I was preparing a poster with the individual senior class photos of our school chums who had died. Turns out we lost 16 out of a class of 68. Two days before the reunion one of those reported to have died called to see if we were having a 50th reunion. As the saying goes, "reports of her death were greatly exaggerated."

Years ago, after our 20th reunion, a car pulled into the driveway as we were getting the family ready for church. It held four of my husband's buddies from our class. They had been up all night and wanted my husband to go with them. I think his response went something like, "Not on a bet!" Two other classmates were spotted revving their engines at an intersection and racing back to Holtville. Some things never change.

The many activities of the week caught up with me Sunday. As I hurried into church that morning, my friend Debbie called me aside and whispered, "Dora, I think your dress is on backwards." And she was right.

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