I spent my freshman and sophomore years in college at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina, which is about 15-20 minutes from Hickory, and I still have friends in the area, as well as family. We planned a lunch gathering downtown for Saturday, and saw a lot of old friends.
Cousin Jon bought this hunk of pig to roast for supper, and he fired up his grill early that morning to begin the smoking process. We made a run to Krispy Kreme for breakfast, and the hot doughnut sign was alight. I was able to bring my good lady wife hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast in bed.
We had a big group, and the servers kindly pushed a bunch of tables together to make room for us. After lunch, I sort of roamed from one end of the table to the other, occupying empty seats as they became available to visit as much as I could with everyone. Here I am with my friend Ben and his wife.
Sherry and the newly engaged Robert Internationale are shown in this picture. (He is Internationale from a trip to Europe in 2000 and was our Alexander County ambassador to the world.) Apparently braided beards are a thing in Hickory these days. Robert's and Ben's weren't the only ones we saw.
From left to right are Tracey (known by his D&D name, Tazmar), myself and Kevin. Taz and I talk frequently on the phone, and he came to my birthday a couple of years ago. He wants to plan a camping or cabin trip this fall, and I'm trying to sell him on Roan Mountain State Park.
Kevin was one of my first friends in North Carolina when I moved there to go to school, but I had not seen him since fall 2006. I had to contact our mutual friend Sig to get a number for him. It was fun to catch up with a longtime friend.
Pictured are my second cousins, Scott and Jon (seated). We worked together for their parents at Style Craft Sample Company, a business that crafted fabric samples for the furniture industry before most of it went overseas from North Carolina. Their mother Barbara and my mother Wanette are first cousins.
Another friend I don't get to see very often is Todd, whom I still think of as Purple, his nickname back in our college days. He and I independently devoted much of our professional careers to protecting children, which gives us something in common besides spending part of our college time together.
From left to right are Gregg, myself and Tazmar. We have had many adventures and shared much history together. There's plenty of both left for us, I think.
My friend Pat and his wife Miki pose in downtown Hickory as our gathering dissipated. This whole trip started for us when I realized I hadn't talked to Pat in years. I called Jon and got Pat's contact information, and we made plans to meet in Hickory for a Style Craft reunion. (Pat worked there, too.) It blossomed into an excellent gathering of folks.