At one table sat the girls — chatty, happy, even a shade giggly. At another the boys — slap-happy and cutting-up. The scene looked a lot like the Moline High School lunchroom 60 years ago.
On this September Monday, the 22 classmates shared jokes, jabs, hugs, and stories.
They have gathered every Monday for the last 15 years, 10 of those years at the John Deere Road Hy-Vee. They are the Moline High School Class of 1959, a tight group still after all these years, all hovering in their late 70s, and still looking out for one other.
"You will not find a group of people who are as close — 60 years after high school graduation — then this group,'' said Tom Seitz, the longtime coach, and teacher at Moline High School.
Seitz was the homecoming king at Moline in 1959 and assists reunion chair Dorothy Burdick, a 24-karat gem, with planning details.
The group will be honored this Friday at Moline High School's homecoming parade and football game against border-rival Rock Island.
"They gave us a nice area in the bleachers, but not too far up because most of us wouldn't make it,'' Seitz joked. "Hey, we are all looking forward to being part of the parade and game.''
Seitz's claim that no other high school class is as tight and civic-minded as Moline's Class of '59, might be right. Few, if any, share as much time together and do as much to benefit their alma mater as this particular group.
They meet for lunch once a week, play euchre once a month - with a large and ugly traveling trophy at stake - raise money for the scholarship fund they established, take vacations together, and celebrate unique milestones together.
They share class email updates, birthday wishes and parties, deal with the loss of classmates and loved ones together, and every Sunday pick up trash about town with Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri.
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Since establishing a scholarship in the name of the Class of '59, the group has shared 23 awards of $1,000 to graduating Moline High School seniors. Nearly two dozen young people have been given a jumpstart to college thanks to Class of '59.
"We have had a variety of fundraisers through the years to assist with the scholarship program,'' Burdick said. "And things are in place for it to go on long after all of us are gone. All of us feel it is important to make a difference at a place that means so much to us.''
For decades Seitz, a laugh-a-minute type, says the Class of '59 — 482 strong — was scattered about, managing lives and families. However, things changed 15 years ago at its 45th reunion. It was then that they decided to band together and make a difference.
In those last 15 years, the group celebrated their Medicare birthdays (65th) at Lavender Crest Winery; 70th birthdays with a weekend in East Dubuque; 75th birthdays at Moline's Viking Club; and their 77th birthdays on July 7, 2018, at 7:07 p.m. at Moline's Harley's Tavern drinking 7-and-7 cocktails.
"We were close in high school and we decided at our 45th we would get close again,'' said Seitz. "I think we have done a nice job of catching up, making up for lost time, but giving back as well.''
Over 100 have committed to attending the Class of '59's 60th reunion this weekend. Friday's schedule features the parade and the big game. A party Saturday at the Viking Club and a Sunday breakfast at the Windmill Restaurant draws things to a close.
Of course, the following Monday means lunch together for all those on the home front.
"Just a great group of people,'' Seitz said. "It's so important to have people, at our age, looking after and keeping an eye out for one another. Everyone cares.''
A special group indeed, the Class of '59.