USA Reunion 2013
US OEs barge into their second annual reunion
By Roger Weatherburn Baker
It’s not every day you’re driven to dinner on an open-air barge. Furthermore, a barge loaded with a full bar, two waiters, heaps of serious-looking hors d’oeuvres and a motley crew of Old Edmundians. But there we were, one late-summer evening floating gently down a tree-lined river through one of the most visited cities in the southwestern United States.
The barge trip and sumptuous dinner that followed it were the highlight of the second Annual Reunion of Old Edmundians living in the United States held this year over the September 20-22 weekend in San Antonio, Texas.
San Antonio was named for St. Anthony of Padua, whose feast day is on June 13, the day a Spanish expedition stopped there in 1691. It’s famous for its 18th century Spanish Missions, the Alamo and its River Walk, a verdant oasis of cypress-lined paved paths, arched stone bridges and lush landscapes that fringe the narrow San Antonio river where it meanders through the city’s downtown.
Although we were a group of less than 20 OEs, spouses and partners, we fully occupied a 16-room historic riverside inn that quickly became our headquarters and the hotel lobby our Common Room. Perfectly located, the inn was within easy walking distance of all the major attractions, except the Missions, a chain of five magnificently crumbling colonial-era compounds founded by Franciscan Fathers a few miles outside the city.
Reunions began as one-by-one we assembled in the hotel ‘Common Room’ late Friday afternoon for a casual opening night dinner at Acenar, the area’s best Mexican restaurant, where we took over the top floor and happily regaled one another with tales of our misspent youth. Those who followed that with a couple of nightcaps along the river walk home were, of course, off to a bit of a slow start the following morning.
But everyone had an action-packed Saturday nevertheless. Apart from the Alamo and the Missions, some visited the quaintly historic arts village known as La Villita, others the sprawling Mexican crafts market or the city’s famed 30-year old jazz festival that was hopping in nearby Travis Park that weekend.
But everyone came together again for the sunset barge cruise that dropped us off for dinner in a private dining room at the chic Biga on the Banks, San Antonio’s #1 riverside restaurant.
Here, attending the reunion for the first time, President Emeritus & Archivist David J S Kay was presented with a plaque recognizing US OEs’ appreciation of his many years of dedicated service.
Headmaster Paulo Durán, who had flown in just hours earlier especially to attend the gala dinner, was warmly welcomed and thanked by all for making such a huge trans-Atlantic effort with the determination and lightening speed of Harry Potter. Recognizing that he wouldn’t have time to visit the famed Catholic Missions, he was presented with a painting of them created by a noted local Mexican artist.
The Headmaster in turn thanked Michael Jenner (St Hugh's & Challoner 1951-60) and Roger Baker (Talbot 1958-60) who co-organized the weekend for the second year running. He was particularly pleased to present each of them with the Headmaster’s Medal, noting that their efforts demonstrated “the spirit of St. Edmund’s”. Only two such medals may be presented in a year, he remarked, and none before have been awarded to OEs. He encouraged the group to keep such reunions going and to build an enduring tradition.
Within minutes it seemed, OE Vincent FitzGerald (St Hugh's & Challoner 1956-66) took up the gauntlet, promising to organize next year’s event. Although plans are not yet firm, rumors are it will be held again in September and most likely in Chicago, not too far it’s hoped for OEs in Canada to attend also.
Like must reunions, we had a great time, renewed old friendships and laid the foundations of new ones. By weekend’s end, we were a united group with much in common, especially our farewells. As we shook hands, every one of us said, “See you in Chicago!”