Jerry Johnson did a terrific job hosting us for this mini-reunion. In attendance were Steve & Barbara Benz, Roger & Gloria Flynn, Mike McSorley, Jerry Johnson & Stacy Bee, Hide & Julia Nobumori, Steve & Nancy Sliwa, and Tom & Anita Webber (Wednesday evening only). Amy Bertelsen of Jerry’s company was the event coordinator and she overlapped with us a bit.
Jerry and Stacy went above and beyond in pulling this trip together. First, Jerry was busy at work and life was complicated by the first Vikings game the weekend before and the Ryder Cup the week after. Jerry and his company were sponsors and it was a busy time for him. On top of all this, Stacy delivered Jackson Jasper Jerome Johnson (J-quad) about ten days before our arrival. The little guy needed a hernia operation but came home during our stay. Unbelievably, J-Quad attended several events with us, was remarkably quiet, and was held my several of us. Stacy and J-Quad deserve medals for their perseverance.
Roger & Gloria arrived in town early to visit with other friends. The good news is they were able to attend the 1st Football game in the new stadium as Jerry’s guest the Sunday before we rendezvoused. More on Suite 16 later.
Due to all of the activities, Jerry decided to book us into the Minneapolis Club downtown. This ended up being a great location that was quite comfortable. Mike, Tom & Anita, and Hide & Julia arrived Wednesday. The plan was to eat at Manny’s Steakhouse a couple of blocks away. Some airplane issues complicated the arrivals. Nancy & I missed were having airplane problems (Nancy’s new Cirrus was having some teething problems) and then Steve & Barb were having weather travel problems. In any case, I understand that it was a good kick-off to our event with a cocktail reception in Foshay Tower and then dinner.
Thursday morning the crew met after breakfast to cruise Lake Minnetonka. The Benz’s and Sliwa’s arrived at MSP and Jennifer arranged for us to limo to the Lafayette Club so we could join the crew for lunch. We then cruised back to the boat club and bussed back to the Minneapolis Club. We met downstairs to depart 5:30Pm for dinner at the Sea Change restaurant. Afterwards we attended the Guthrie Theatre for the play Sense & Sensibility.
Friday morning the group (less Steve S) headed by Light Rail to the Mall of America. Jerry, Stacy’s mom, and & Jasper (J-cubed) met the group for some shopping. Lunch was held at Crave. The group (less Mike & Nancy) took the light rail back into Minneapolis and met Steve S at the US Bank Stadium for a personal guided tour. You’ll see some pictures below. It was quite impressive and we especially enjoyed seeing Suite 16. That’s Jerry’s company’s suite near the 50 yard line. It was awesome and so far the Vikings are undefeated defending their new stadium (1-0). We hope their good fortunes continue.
It started to pour the rain. So Steve S arranged for an Uber SUV. Several of the group hadn’t used Uber before so Steve showed them how it works. We were picked up in about 5 minutes and got dropped off under the canopy, avoiding the heavy rain.
We met downstairs for a Chef Cooking Class & Dine event there in the club. We all thought that it made for quite a memorable experience. We divided into three teams. Appetizer, Main Course, and Dessert. Preparations took about 90 minutes, but there were some snacks and drinks available for the idle hands. We had to watch Mike, though, as it was a challenge to keep him from eating in the kitchen before the meal was served.
Each of the team shared the load and then each team was suppose to present what they learned about preparing the dish. Chef Steve Benz with sous chef Jerry Johnson won the presentation challenge. Steve presented for almost 10 minutes with his best “Inspector Clouseau” accent [Marc would have cringed] with highlights and commentary contributed from Jerry. We were rolling on the floor and thought it was quite hilarious. Interestingly, the video clips we watched the next day weren’t quite as funny, so I think a liberal use of wine prior to watching might be needed to fully simulate the experience.
What was especially nice was that J-Quad joined us. He had just gotten home from the hospital from his surgery and stayed with us for nearly 3 hours. He was quiet and happy. Several Sloans and spouses got to hold that little guy … he’s a fighter. That might be helpful to him for his hockey career.
Saturday morning we met at 9AM. We loaded onto the tour bus and headed for the waterfront section of town. One group did the Mill City Museum and the other group did a Segway Tour of the waterfront area with a quick stop at the Mill City Museum. No one fell on the Segways and by the end we all qualified for Segway driver’s licenses.
We had lunch there in the waterfront at Aster’s Cafe and then took the Tour Bus to St. Paul. We toured the Wabasha Caves. It housed speakeasy’s during prohibition and now is used as a party venue and historical tour spot. Apparently some paranormal sitings are common in this location and the tour guide thought Mike might have video-recorded something unusual and he suggested that we get in touch with some experts for verification. [experts]
We then were given a Gangster tour of St. Paul. We had a person enacting Tom Brown, the corrupt police chief in the 1930’s, as our tour guide. He took us around via bus and showed us where various criminals hung out, where some of the shoot-outs occurred, and regaled us on behind the scenes stories. Turns out the gangsters of Chicago (John Dillinger, Ma Barker, Babyface Nelson, et al) needed a vacation spot and many chose St. Paul. This was partially facilitated by the corruption of the local police. It all made for an interesting story.
We capped our time together with dinner in St. Paul at Pazzaluna. We had yet another great dinner. However, this one was particularly special as Mike led us remembering and toasting our lost comrades — Barbara & Norm. We shared some fond memories and agreed that we are all richer because of our interactions with them and that we will keep their memories alive.
We broke up Sunday morning with most heading home. The Benz’s stayed for the Ryder Cup. Mike was predicting a landslide, but he got the winner wrong. Roger and Gloria were driving to Florida. Hide and Julia headed back to Pittsburgh.
Here are some quick news updates and observations:
- Jerry’s business EMC is going strong and he is quite active in the community. Stacy was amazing as she spent a lot of time with us just days after delivering J-Quad and she fit right in with Sloans.
- Hide is Sr. VP in a joint venture between Siemens and Mitsubishi and is living in Pittsburgh. The kids are in Japan and doing well. Hide and Julia expect to move to Japan when he retires to take up the role of the oldest son. His father is living in his house while they are here.
- Steve Benz says he really is going to retire and has set a date for this spring. However, he mentioned something about consulting back to the organization and ya-da ya-da ya-da. We shall see. They are splitting time between South Carolina and Florida.
- Roger and Gloria split time between Colorado and Florida. I think he is up to 8 boats and about to take delivery of another one. Gloria says this will be first time he will actually give one up so the number gets smaller. I looked at Roger and I remain unconvinced.
- Mike is busy helping the University of Toronto and traveling. He plans to sell his place in England and is working to get a green card to enable him getting a place in Florida. Right now Jerry, the Benz’s, and the Flynn’s have places in Florida along with Betsy. Perhaps Mike will be near by.
- My new business, Seeq, is keeping me quite busy. We split time between the Columbia River Gorge (1 hour east of Portland OR) and Arizona.
We are sorry more couldn’t make this mini-reunion, but hope to you see you all at one in the future.
Twin Cities Reunion Reporter
Here are some pictures:
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