The Inaugural Josephus Daniels Reunion
Tuesday, September 16th 2003
I went to a local bar to get chicken wings for our trek to VA. A couple of the guys asked if I was going to bring them so that they could taste them to see if they were as good as I said they were. Sandy was not happy that I went and ordered 100 wings and planned on hauling them with us.
Wednesday, September 17th 2003
Sandy and I left Erie, PA. Around 8:00 A.M. knowing that we were heading into a hurricane, but I was very much anticipating spending time with friends that I have not seen in 18 years and Sandy was looking forward to our first vacation without children since we have been together.
When we were about an hour out of Virginia Beach, I called Bob Trader to find out what to expect. I first talked to Sam who told me that the hotels had closed down. I talked to Bob and he told me that he would call the hotel and find out. A few minutes later he called me back and said that we could go to the hotel. He also said that if there was a problem, we were welcome at his house.
We arrived in Virginia Beach around 6:00 P.M. and checked into the hotel. Along with our room key we were handed a list of “Hurricane Tips” which Sandy and I went over once we got to the room. After unpacking and reading, we went to the lobby and I saw a couple with a young child checking in. It was Kurt Wolfgang and his wife Dawn along with their son, Alvin. We met up and talked a little about “Old Times” and what we were doing now. After walking on the beach in the steady wind we went back inside, had a few drinks and went to bed. This seemed like a long day but what we were about to experience would make this one seem very short.
Thursday, September 18th 2003
Sandy and I got out of bed around 7:00 A.M. and after a long night of listening to the wind whistle through the closed doors of our room; we took showers and got ready for the long day ahead. We met up with Kurt and his family and had our last hot meal for a few days. It wasn’t until today that we realized that there would be no power in VA beach. We had talked to a hotel employee on the elevator and after talking to her for a few minutes she said, “oh you’re the party family”. I guess we had a reputation going already.
We had a large breakfast in the hotel and after that we went to our room and watched the hurricane coverage on the local television stations. They had now predicted that the worst part of the storm would come ashore in North Carolina.
We walked back and forth from our room to the lobby, not knowing what to expect. About 1:00 P.M. the power finally went out and would not come back on during our stay. Stacey Backman called our room and she told me that she and James were getting close to the area and would probably go to Ed and Joan Ramirez’s place before journeying to the hotel. I told her that we had some food that we had hauled from Erie if they were hungry.
I took the picture that I was going to have people guess the theme to the lobby and I started covering it for something to do. As I was getting it covered, I saw a lady checking in and when she said that they had reservations and the name was Backman, I walked over to her and introduced myself.
I went to the room and had Sandy come to the lobby and we helped them get their bags to their room. We went to our room and I got out the wings that we had brought and James and Stacey ate until they were full. Ed and Joan showed up and also joined our little party. They also ate and after everyone was satisfied, we split up for a little bit.
Everyone met in the lobby a short time later and although we didn’t say anything, that’s where we ended up having our hurricane party. I got our refreshments from the room and everyone else eventually ended up in the lobby. After a while we were trying to find something to eat and one of the group asked if the employees could get us a microwave to heat up wings. I went to the room and before I returned the microwave was hooked up and waiting. Sandy laid out the wings and her and Ed started heating them up. We fed our group, some of the hotel staff, and some of the other guests that were milling around the lobby. Sandy finally admitted that she was glad that I brought the wings with us. Chalk up a victory for Men everywhere!! Imagine, a woman admitting that she was glad that a man didn’t take her advice!
People were still calling the hotel to find out if we were going to stay. Sandy and I fielded some calls and talked to people and told them that we were here and not going to leave. We also had our family calling to tell us how nutty we were but after finding out that we were safe, Sandy’s Sister said that she wanted to come down.
About 9:00 P.M. the storm had finally started dying down and everyone that was partying in the lobby and decided that it would be a good idea to go outside and make sure that the traffic wasn’t getting snarled up in front of the hotel. People were driving past, honking and waving as we stood by the curb and waved them through with our flashlights. One car pulled in and Sandy talked to the driver and he told her that he was head of maintenance at the holiday inn further down the beach and he wanted to work at our hotel because we were having way too much fun.
When we finished making sure that traffic was flowing and we weren’t needed outside we went back in and finished our party in the lobby.
It was about midnight when everyone decided to go to bed. The tricky part was that there was no elevator and the stairwells had no lighting because the emergency lights had died out.
I woke up about 3:00 A.M. and walked out onto our balcony. I was amazed that the sky was clear and I could see the moon and stars shining brightly. Sandy reminded me that I didn’t have any clothes on and I shot back into the room.
Friday, September 19th, 2003
Sandy and I got out of bed and I jumped in the shower. My screams told Sandy that we were out of hot water. After the shortest shower in the history of man, Sandy jumped in and we called Stacey and started making plans to get the hospitality room opened.
We went to the lobby to start making plans for the hospitality room. Brian McCallen and Rick Miller pulled in. As I was talking to them, Randy Mink pulled up without me seeing him and I heard a voice from behind me say, “What’s up Bitch” in that long slow southern drawl. Without turning I called out Randy…. What’s up?
Sandy, Brian, Rick and I went to the 7-11 across the street and loaded up on Ice, bread, peanut butter and jelly and other things that we felt that we would need to eat for the next few days.
When we got back we finally got access to the hospitality room and started setting up our stuff for display. Randy had his things, I had a bunch of items that I had saved from the Joey D and other people would add to this when they arrived.
After getting somewhat set up in the hospitality room, with Snacks and other items, we all pretty much did whatever and used the room as a meeting place. During the day others showed up and we all chatted about our experiences not only with the Joey D but the storm. J.W. Hampton came in and told us that he had made it into town and was almost out of gas. He told us where his car was and Ed Ramirez would eventually get gas for him and get his vehicle.
During the day, we held an election and it had been decided that the following people were either staying as officers or being added to various positions. Randy Mink would continue to be Webmaster, Chris Behan would continue serving as secretary, I would continue as president. Bob Trader and his wife Sam (Sandy) were now elected to handle coordinating the next reunion.
We all enjoyed each other’s company into the night. Ed and Joan Called Stacey and we begged them to find a pizza place that was opened. They came through like troopers and when they returned to the hotel, they had about 6 or 7 steaming hot pizzas. This was the first hot food that most of us had enjoyed since Thursday morning. (Not counting the wings)
After eating our fill, we continued the party and about midnight, everyone split up and went their separate ways. (Most of us went to bed.)
Saturday, September 20th 2003
Sandy, Stacey, James and myself met in the hospitality room and started calling the rooms to get everyone together to go for a hot breakfast complete with steaming hot coffee. After loading up we made a trek to the golden corral for a buffet breakfast. When we got there, it appeared that the rest of VA Beach had the same idea. It took us about a half hour to get through the line and find our seats. It was well worth the wait and we all enjoyed the start of another day of reminiscing and getting to know each other.
After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel and everyone went their separate ways for the afternoon. At around 3:00 P.M. we met back in the hospitality room and prepared to drive to Bob and Sam Traders for our Luau dinner. The hotel cancelled all of the dinners on us so Bob and Sam graciously offered us their home to have the dinner.
Bob and Sam had a great feast prepared for everyone and they made sure that no one left hungry. This part of the reunion has to be named “The Party On The Patio” We were able to party in probably one of the only places in VA Beach that had power. Little Jack Cadigan was able to watch videos and he was a happy little boy since there was no television to be found in our hotel.
The rest of us listened to Pete Hogden tell his sea stories of how he loved getting John Krauss into trouble while in the shipyards in Philly. We also found out that Rick Miller had just received news that his better half is going to have a baby. This reunion was turning out to be a great reunion, even though we didn’t have power and hot water.
Probably the funniest thing to happen at Bob and Sam’s was when I told Captain Rumney that his prized possession, an enlarged picture of the Joey D had been auctioned off and he made a whole $28.00 cash. The look on his face was priceless and I think that there are plenty of pictures of his expression. We did auction off the paintings of the Joey D. The first 2 went relatively cheap but it was the third painting that proved to be the most exciting. The bidding started out at around $35.00 and it went back and forth between Pete Hogden and Roscoe Burns. Roscoe was doing well on the bidding but once it got to $50.00 he had to get permission to go higher from his Boss. She let him go higher and the bidding war continued. Every time that Roscoe was outbid, he went nuts. Pete was not going to let the painting go without a fight. The bidding was now around $100.00 and Roscoe had a look on his face like he had lost his best friend. $105.00 was Roscoe’s last bid and he would not go any higher. Finally a sleeper entered the bidding war with $110.00 and he won the painting. Brian McCallen got the painting and did something that surprised us all. He graciously gave the painting to Roscoe. Pete and Brian Split the cost and Let everyone know that it had been planned to do that to Roscoe the whole time. I guess Roscoe should have stopped at $35.00
We left the Traders residence at around 8:30 and went back to the hospitality room. The party continued and we drank, lied and just had a good time for the rest of the evening. Every one had told me that the reunion was a great success. I for one was very glad that we had weathered the storm to be there and get to see everyone and enjoy their company. After a long day of finding gas, partying and telling stories, we had one final toast and went to our rooms.
Sunday September 21st 2003
Sandy and I packed and loaded up the truck. We went and opened up the hospitality room and loaded up our stuff from there. Everyone met in the hospitality room around 10:00 and started to say our goodbyes. I asked Captain Rumney to say a prayer for our return trip home. After the prayer, everyone slowly started leaving and heading to the airport or getting on the road. Sandy and I were almost the last to leave, not wanting it to end but eventually we got on the road and headed north. We were on the highway out of VA Beach, just fracturing the speed limit. Sandy saw a motorcycle trooper who I failed to see. He pulled up behind us and looked at my license plate (Which has the Fraternal Order Of Police Logo displayed on it) and than pulled beside me and glared at me over his mirrored sunglasses. I waved and smiled at him and he sped off to the next exit. The trip back to Erie was uneventful with the exception of finding a bathroom and we arrived back in Erie around 10:30 P.M.
I am looking forward to the next reunion and even though we had a hurricane disrupt our first one, I personally think that it was a smashing success and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.