High school buddies meet monthly for lunch

May 19 2010 - 8:47pm

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(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) The Lunch Bunch meets for lunch at China Platter in Bountiful. The group is comprised of long-term friends and have been meeting for lunch every month since they graduated from high school.
(NICHOLAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner) The Lunch Bunch meets for lunch at China Platter in Bountiful. The group is comprised of long-term friends and have been meeting for lunch every month since they graduated from high school.

BOUNTIFUL -- A group of nine friends sat around a large table recently, talking and laughing as they ate lunch. The women, all from varied life circumstances, have one thing in common; they're from Bountiful High School's class of 1958.

The unofficially-named "Lunch Bunch" has met monthly since their graduation, rarely missing the opportunity to gather at China Platter in Bountiful to not only reminisce about their high school years, but to talk about their lives now. All are mothers, most are grandmothers and some even great-grandmothers.

"We get together to talk about our families, complain about our husbands, and to just enjoy one another's company. Whenever there's a problem in any of our families, we're there for each other to lend support however we can," said Anita Winegar, a West Bountiful resident who's only missed the gatherings when she lived too far away to attend.

Most lunch bunch members live in the area: Peggy Richman, Janice Vom Dorp, Sharlee Steed, and Doreen Leishman live in Bountiful. Sid Eggett lives in West Bountiful; Joni Jones is in North Salt Lake. Pauline Hatt comes all the way from Herriman, a 45-minute drive, to meet monthly with the friends she treasures. Carol Fornelius, the group's snowbird, attends whenever she's at her Centerville home.

Two members of the original group live out of state: Val Eggett is in St. George and Maria Contratto lives in Seattle, Wash. The two attend whenever they're in town. Bountiful's Carol Southwick was also unable to make May's get-together.

Fornelius is credited with starting the gatherings, now five decades strong.

"My mother belonged to a club (of friends) that would meet monthly to share stories and visit. She thrived within that group. Later, I decided to start my own club," she said.

From the polished appearance of this group, no one would guess these dignified and refined women were serious mischief makers in high school. From drinking wine carefully hidden in neighborhood bushes to puffing on cigarettes in Smokey Hallow, the girls got into their fair share of trouble.

One of Jones's favorite memories is the time during a slumber party when several girls snuck into a local movie theater without paying. They pranced up and down the aisles, in their pajamas, until they were spotted by the owner. They ran to the safety of the bathroom, only to be locked in by the owner until the police arrived. Parents were contacted, punishments meted out, and a great adventure made memorable by law enforcement's intervention.

Common memories among some members of the group include: shooting rifles in the school's basement during P.E., setting pins by hand during bowling class, sneaking into Lagoon at night to swim and ducking underwater to avoid the security guard's flashlight. This group also witnessed the historic creation of the B on the hill, formed with 27 bags of lime.

Trends of the day included the social importance of wearing brand-name Jansen sweaters and Joy shoes. Skirts were required school attire though Val Eggett once wore pants to school. Her far-reaching excuse to explain the dress code defiance was a house fire that left no other clothing options.

Stiff skirts were all the rage back then. The effect was created by dunking skirts in a bathtub filled with sugar and water, then hanging them to drip dry. The resulting sticky bathroom infuriated many parents.

Early arrival at school meant time to Jitterbug, Stroll, or Bump to music played on a phonograph set up for that purpose. Hanging out on stage with musicians like Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mathis, and Fats Domino was also a favorite pastime for the lunch bunch girls.

Other popular activities for a few of them included drinking wine smuggled past oblivious parents and sneaking out of the house late at night to meet friends or boys.

Winegar said memories of her mischievous youth were helpful when her own daughter was a teenager.

"My daughter always thought I had magical powers because I was never surprised by anything she did (to get into trouble). I never told her I knew her stunts because I'd done the same things myself."

Winegar considers the monthly meetings "friendship therapy" and said the get-togethers are all about encouraging and helping each other.

"We've shared a lot together; wonderful memories, special events, celebrations and even tragedies. No matter where our lives have gone, these luncheons keep us connected."

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