Tag Archives: Tom McNeal

David Ault Liked the Reunion, Reveals Secrets

The 50th Reunion was simply amazing – far exceeding any expectations I might have had prior to the event.  You gave us a rare chance to relive our youth and reconnect with many friends we had not seen in 50 years.  I’m so indebted to the Team for making this possible.  I realize you put in numerous hours of planning to make this event happen; I for one am so grateful for your efforts.  It was so much more than just a dinner – it was the “break-out” groups you developed, the casual lunches together, the tours of SAHS and the down time we had to bond with old friends.  In looking back, I realize we were very fortunate to get the education we received at SAHS and we should all be appreciative of the support given from parents, teachers, church groups and our fellow classmates.  An event like this reminds us that we were lucky to have had a good foundation on which to build our futures.

Coming back to the present, I’m so proud of so many of our classmates and really enjoyed hearing their stories; Tom NcNeal, Doug Nalle (my two best friends in school), John Waters and Karol Wahlberg just to name a few.  Seeing Barbara Denton (my first grade crush), Jane Lindley (my 6th grade crush – but she didn’t know it) and my senior year sweetheart, Sharon Storm.  The evening with the basketball team and coach Collier – priceless!  The veterans tribute was so meaningful.

As you can tell, the event was truly outstanding or we used to say ……..”We all had a bitchin time”.

Thanks again and God willing hope to see you at our 55th!

Dave Ault
SAHS Class of 65

Gale Grall Moore writes:

I was so surprised to see so much info about so many people.  I had no idea.  Now I’m a bit late but will add my two cents.

Gale Grall Moore
Gale Grall Moore
I married in 1972 to a great guy I met at Western Airlines in Los Angeles.  We moved to Seattle and had two wonderful girls.  Our lives revolved around our girls and 4H.  Their dad and I would take our vacations to coincide with the King County Fair and all the 4H activities.  It was a great way to raise kids.
But, alas the marriage didn’t last.  Western Airlines became Delta Airlines and in 1993 closed the Seattle office.  The oldest girl headed off to college and mom and youngest daughter headed for Salt Lake City to follow the paycheck.  I’d thought I’d gone to the ends of the earth. Little did I know what a beautiful place this is.  I live 13 miles from Snowbird and Alta, 5 minutes from wonderful hiking canyons.  I have turned into a National Park junkie.   Between international travel with Delta and living here… I’ve had a wonderful life.
Florinda Islas Bailey is my tether to Orange County.  Louann (old habits die hard) and I are very different people now, but we can pick up our silliness and camaraderie in just a few minutes of being together.  I’m also very close to my brother who lives in Orange.  Between visiting both of them I have been able to keep up with the changes of our childhood stomping ground… and what changes !!!
And I see Jefferson has been mentioned.  I’m anxious to see Jane, Mary, and Wanda.. and everyone else.  I used to play football with the boys at Willard… Tommy McNeal, Doug Nalle, Dave Ault..and ??  I think we were 8 or 9.  I was a ruff and tumble girl !
I retired from Delta in 2005 but got restless.  I went to work at an in-house travel department for locum tenens.  I’m now down to 3 days a week and with a big house… am kept busy.  When not working I’m playing pickleball, or in the mountains.
Well, time to lose 10 pounds in the next 4 days !..haha ..Can’t wait to see everyone.
Gale Grall Moore

Tom McNeal writes:

This is what I remember: Walking toward school along Flower Street in the early morning with a bunch of books under my arm hoping that Phil Lynch would pass by and let me hop in the back of his MG Midget.  This seems a long, long time ago.  It also seems testament to my own stupidityI had a perfectly good Schwinn Continental at home and I’m pretty sure somebody had invented backpacks by then.

I still have that Continental, by the way, and our older son, Sam, 17, rides it to high school.  We live now near San Diego in Coronado, a city we chose both because of the good public schools and the fact that you can walk or ride your Schwinn to school, the library, the baseball field, the grocery store, or the beach.

My life has been a pretty quiet one, which is the way I like it.  After high school, I graduated from Berkeley; dropped out of Boalt School of Law; got a teaching credential; taught junior high school in Orange; married Cathy Van Riper, whom I’d met in journalism class at SAHS; moved to Nebraska; was awarded a Stegner Fellowship and then hired as a Jones Lecturer in creative writing at Stanford; and helped start a general contracting and property management business with my brother, Fred, and brother-in-law, Jack Duckworth (the little brother of Willard’s Mr. Duckworth).

But, mid-life, there were still a few big things I wanted to do before cashing it all in, namely:

  1. Have kids;
  2. build my own house; and
  3. finish and publish a novel.

By age 45, I was still 0 for 3, and divorced. In 1993, I married a tall, funny, writerly type named Laura,

Laura and Tom McNeal, June 2015
Laura and Tom McNeal, June 2015

and we began building a house overlooking an orange grove in Fallbrook (my brother, Fred, was the job superintendent).

Fred McNeal and Tom McNeal at a wedding in approximately 1970
Fred McNeal and Tom McNeal at a wedding in approximately 1970

We had two sons, first Sam, then Hank (and Cathy and her new husband became their godparents).  And at long last, I finished a novel, Goodnight, Nebraska, which Random House brought out.

Tom’s and Laura’s sons Sam (17) and Hank (15) playing #1 doubles together on their high school tennis team
Tom’s and Laura’s sons Sam (17) and Hank (15) playing #1 doubles together on their high school tennis team

Since then, things have gone as smoothly as real life can (which is to say, semi-smoothly).  Our boys are both in high school, work hard at their studies, and are doubles partners on the varsity tennis team (which means they like each other after wins and otherwise say withering things to each other that are mostly inaudible to spectators).  Laura and I have collaborated on four books for young adults, all published by Knopf (the first of these, Crooked, borrows liberally from life at Willard Jr. High).  She published one on her own—Dark Water, nominated for the National Book Award in 2010—and has another coming out this year.  I’ve published a couple more books on my own, one for adults, To Be Sung Underwater, and one for younger (and, I hope, older) readers, Far Far Away, which was nominated for the National Book Award in 2013.  (If you’d like a copy of this or any of our books, just let me know at themcneals@san.rr.com and I’ll bring one gratis to the reunion.)  And we built one more house, the one we’re in now in Coronado.

One last thing.  Our older son, Sam, is coming along with Laura and me to the reunion.  Not sure what his perverse reasons are, but he won’t be talked out of it.  Probably he just wants a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a big room full of curmudgeons who used to look and feel just like he does now—young, grinsome, and on the runway ready for takeoff.  Like us, in other words, fifty years ago.

Tom McNeal