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REUNIONS : 9 REMEMBER `THE WAY WE WERE’ AS BOISTEROUS, BLOSSOMING CHUMS

SHARE REUNIONS : 9 REMEMBER `THE WAY WE WERE’ AS BOISTEROUS, BLOSSOMING CHUMS

Once upon a time, nine little maids went to school together in Ephraim, Utah, and they know one thing for sure: "Nobody had more fun growing up than we did."

"Once upon a time" was more than 60 years ago; and all those little maids are now 74 or 75 years old. Still in reasonably good health, all nine gathered recently for a reunion at Dorothy Jonas' mountain cabin, between Park City and Midway. It was the first time they have all been together since 1933; they have had reunions with as many as eight, but never all nine for 57 years.Those present were Ethelyn Peterson Taylor, Afton Christensen Greaves, Veone Nielson Hunter and Dorothy Thomson Jonas, all of Salt Lake City; Flora Stevens Spendlove, Orem; Lucille Armstrong Olsen Sorensen, Ephraim; Barbara Nielsen Bosen, Eager, Ariz.; Ruby Willardsen Westergard, Idaho Falls; and Eudora Knudsen Waddell, Gresham, Ore.

Most of them was born in the little Sanpete County town, population then about 2,000, which is also home to Snow College.

The nine really formed a "gang" during their fourth-grade year, when some who were in third grade were put through two years' school work in one year.

"We used to walk all over town," said one of them, retracing an innocent growing up that would not be possible in this day of automobiles, television and Nintendo.

Life in the placid small town was marked by weekly, monthly and yearly events. "On our birthdays, each of our mothers would give a birthday dinner for the whole gang, a special dinner with the best china, and hot rolls, just like a grown-up party. And did we eat!" said Veone.

"And we always had an all-day picnic the day before Easter. I remember one year when we went in someone's Model T Ford, and there wasn't room for all of us in the car, so two of us lay on the running boards!" said Afton.

"Every July 3rd we slept together, a big slumber party in Veone's barn. Parley Sorensen, the town marshal, used to fire off the cannon at 5 a.m. and wake us. One year we asked him not to do it, but he did anyway! That was the same year that the boys known as the `Bird Alley Gang' came by and threw bags of water up at us!"

"And every Friday at Dreamland, the town dance hall, we had a joint dance with Snow College and Ephraim High School. You danced the first and last dance with the person who brought you, and all the other dances with as many different boys as you could," said Afton.

"We always wore formal dresses; we had more formals in our closets than ordinary dresses," said Veone.

"We used to decorate so elaborately for the junior prom, the preparation was as much fun as the dance itself. And the chaperone would come around and tap you on the shoulder if you danced too close!"

"We had wienie roasts at the Cliffs, just east of town. We would build a bonfire on the flats, and in August we would lie on our backs and watch the shooting stars. And we used to love to ride horses in the canyon, but just once during the summer we went swimming - at Crystal Springs in Manti."

"We weren't allowed to have playing cards, but we played rook at big tables with many friends, both boys and girls, and had so much fun. And we made candy almost every Sunday afternoon."

Veone had the first date - when she was in third grade.

Lucille was the first to break up the gang, marrying at 17 and settling in Ephraim, where she has lived ever since. She also had the first baby.

The rest went on into higher education to varying extents. Eight attended Snow for two years, then two went on to Brigham Young University, three to Utah State College (now USU), two to the University of Utah and one to LDS Business College.

Three of them, Eudora, Barbara and Ethelyn, have master's degrees. All have traveled the country widely, and most have traveled abroad to Europe and exotic destinations in Asia and Africa.

All married by the time they were 27, with Afton bringing up the rear, after several years of teaching. Of course she did make a coveted catch - Albert Greaves, who had taught drama, speech, chorus and English to all the girls at Ephraim High. Everyone had had a crush on him, so she was the envy of all. Greaves later had a career teaching at the U. The Greaves spent their 50th anniversary in Bucharest, and Greaves is the only original spouse still living, despite his being almost 10 years older than Afton.

Flora and Barbara also celebrated their golden wedding anniversaries, and Lucille missed by only eight months. She's since remarried, as three others have done. There have been two divorces in the group. Among them they have 28 natural children and 14 stepchildren, 150 grandchildren, and 36 great-grandchildren.

They've lived through three wars and a depression, coped with inflation and financial reverses, public disaster and personal tragedy, sickness and death, retardation and handicaps in children and almost every known stress of life. But no one seems to have lost the twinkle in the eye that's the birthright of those who spent a happy childhood in Ephraim.