August, 1959 — Off to College


August '59 off to college

August 1959.  24 young men packed up and left home to attend a small, free, tough technical college in Long Island.  Four years later, 15 of them graduated with engineering degrees; nine others escaped captivity and are living freely out there somewhere.

Here are the original 24 adventurers and the 15 graduates of Webb ’63:

Original 24

The Class

This little blog provides some glimpses into that small group, most of whom are still good friends to this day, and a future I’m not sure we could have envisioned that afternoon at Sun Ship (see photo below).

Future, World - Sun Ship


55th Reunion — Homecoming, 2018

The Class of 1963 arrived in force for our 55th Reunion at Webb  Homecoming, in May 2018.  This will be remembered as the first time the Deckebachs actually showed up in 45 years.  They were ably accompanied by Max, Bill B. and Marion, June, Bridget and Mike, Bill L. and Joyce,  Hank and Karen, Randy and Miko, Bill S. and Linda, Abbott and Barbara, and Marge.

55th Reunion at Webb

Friday night we gathered at La Pala Restaurant in Glen Cove.  It’s Italian, and they have pizza and pasta.  It’s not Stango’s, but unfortunately, that is closed for good, so we make do with what’s available.

Saturday was spent at the Institute, along with other alumni, where we engaged in many of the activities for the day:

Homecoming Schedule

We learned about the plans for expanding the facilities, and with the help of Birkhead’s leadership, many of our contributions — along with matching funds — went to enabling the Ron Kiss Roof on the new building.

Below are some of the photos I was able to collect from the weekend.

Cold Spring, Minnesota? 54th Reunion?? Yes!!!

It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely venue for a reunion.  And what classes do a 54th?  Well, it seemed pretty clear at the time.  We hoped to have another reunion with Ron this year, and after months of indolence and dithering, we had no plans.

So Max took the initiative:

—-Original Message—–
From: Ron Altmann
Sent: Mar 6, 2017 6:15 PM
To: The Class of ’63

OK guys (and gals).  Listen up.  It is obvious that all of us have reached the age where we can’t make decisions for ourselves, and will spend the rest of our lives vegetating in recliners.  While this is no great loss to humanity, it seems a shame that people as good as we once were could have reached this condition.  (I am the worst of the lot, but it came naturally to me at a young age.)

So here are my non-negotiable demands.  Take ‘em or Leave ‘em, and no hurt feelings if nobody wants to do ‘em.

IF you all (husbands, wives, lovers, but no grandkids) show up in Cold Spring Minnesota for a two-night stay sometime during the weeks of September 5 – September 18, I will take care of your motel bill at the local “Riverside Inn” and your dinner bills at local watering holes.  And the money I save by not getting on a plane and flying somewhere I don’t want to go will be well spent.

All you people have to do is decide which three-days  (two nights) you want to be here, and how you are going to get here.  AND make the decision soon.  Just because those rooms are open now does not mean they will stay open very long.   I can reserve a block of rooms, and can reduce the block up to a month before the reservation, but hopefully you will either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ before this week is out.  Let’s keep the definite maybe’s to a minimum.

Some things to consider.

Weekdays are marginally better than weekends.  They are (slightly) cheaper, and they offer more “show and tell” things going on in the area.  (There aren’t many – see below.) 

The motel is a small place, but nice and clean and with an indoor swimming pool, continental breakfasts, and single-queen, double-queen, or king bed choices.  No bar, but across the street from an off-sale liquor store and within minutes from my house, where the liquor is free.  (Cold Spring has three taverns for those who prefer to sit at grungy bars.)

Cold Spring is a small place.  What the hell we are going to do there is beyond me to guess.  How much bullshit before we are talked out?  I will try to arrange a tour of the local brewery, a granite fabricating shop (kitchen countertops, tombstones, and more), and maybe even a granite quarry.  Fifteen miles down the road is the Mississippi River and the place where I grew up – now a Somali restaurant.  (Maybe we won’t go there.)  There are a couple neat churches in the area, a couple colleges, other things you won’t be interested in.  I mean, this is the landscape that inspired Garrison Keillor and his Lake Woebegone Days, where all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and all children are above average.  On the other hand, if you have ever had the urge to drive around in country where the spacing between towns ranges between five and twenty miles, and farm tractors share the road with tractor trailers, well – you might just enjoy some time on the road.

At my own house I will lay in a supply of local delicacies for the long hours between breakfast and dinner.  Plenty of liver sausage, head cheese, pickled pigs feet, smoked fish, and even some blood sausage.  With suitable beverages.

For what it’s worth, on the 90-minute drive from the Minneapolis airport you will pass the world’s largest shopping mall, where you could leave your wives for an afternoon (hell – you could leave them for all three days – pick them up on the way back).  And if that doesn’t exhaust them, there is a large “outlet mall” half-way between the ‘Cities and Cold Spring for those who need even more shopping at reduce prices.  And I suppose you could elect to take in a ball game in the twin cities (Twins baseball or Vikings football).  I must say I have never been to any of those places.  But then, I have never been to a lot of places.

Such is my proposal.  Be assured there will be no hurt feelings if nobody wants to try them out.  I still plan on showing up at Webb for a 55th reunion in 2018, but I have to agree with GWB that time is moving faster than we are, and maybe we shouldn’t put off what we never get around to.


What follows is the results from his heroic actions.

We ended up with eight classmates (Bill Birkhead, Bill Hall, Mike Silber, Hank Olson, Tim Graul, Bill Smith, Abbott Weiss, and our host Max) and five spouses (Linda, Mary, Roberta, Barbara W, and Barb G).  Unfortunately, Ron was not with us, and we missed the rest of the group, too, but this was still much more than a quorum.

My initial collection of photos will be found in this Flickr album.


Not every reunion has a schedule of Non-Events, but this one did.  It must be preserved for posterity, since it captures the essence of our group indolence, and it contains important references for your GPS:

Fortune Cookie and our Classmates

We had Chinese food last night — vegan dishes, of course.  I always throw out the fortune cookies, but Barbara opens them all, hers and mine.  Amazingly, after providing a short lesson in Mandarin for the day, mine foretold of a strange event.

Fortune - learn Chinese fortune cookie warning

All I could think of for future parties is the upcoming 50th Reunion in May, and one of the last photos I posted of us in this blog (below).  It should be a real bash.

no caption would do this justice!

strange customs, indeed!