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  • Writer's pictureDonna Brown

A rough evening and a 50th class celebration

So, what kind of a person are you when stress overwhelms? Are you a grab a gallon of chocolate fudge ice cream, slump on the kitchen floor and eat it with a tablespoon out of the carton? Or are you a take a jug of Chianti, sit on the back stoop and drink it with a straw kind of person? After tonight I realize I am a take a 16-ounce glass, fill it with Chianti and top it with three dips of rocky road type of person.

Now, I am a tough woman who watches two ornery grandkids and their new untrained Vizsla puppy every day. I am a woman who picks up snakes, puts worms on fish hooks and looks in a lighted makeup mirror every morning with her glasses on. I am fearless! But one night, I almost gave up.

It all began in the morning when my husband brought in a fresh basket of tomatoes, warm and juicy. Since our refrigerator cannot hold any more of his produce, I decided to make a pot of meatballs and gravy. It simmered it in a large crock pot for eight hours. I left it cooling as we went out to dinner with our son and daughter-in-law. When we returned home my husband went to bed and I put the gravy in a container and took it to the chest freezer in the garage. As I placed it in the top basket, the lid slipped off and meatballs and gravy covered everything below.

For once in my life, I was speechless, then after quite a bit of cursing I surrendered to emptying the entire freezer and washing off everything I could salvage. Let me tell you, when the olive oil ladened tomato gravy hit the ice buildup covering the walls of the four-foot freezer it made a pink snow like covering that was resistant to 409, Windex and Mr. Clean. After 45 minutes I took a break, poured a glass of Chianti, and pondered the wisdom in ordering a new freezer and setting this one on fire. So, what if I’d destroyed the garage? A small price to pay for not having to finish the job. I finally dismissed this idea because I had already put too much time and effort into it to give up.

As I went through each item, I had to ask myself multiple questions. Why, when I loathe hotdogs do I have six partially used packages of hotdog rolls in my freezer? For heaven’s sake, they cost $1.50 for eight rolls. Why would I freeze them? Why do I have plastic bags of unidentifiable leftovers with no labels? Why do I have three boxes of Girl Scouts thin mints hidden under four bags of ice? And how did a pen end up in the bottom of the freezer?

After midnight and more than two hours of work, it was all cleaned up and as I ate the last meatball off the top bag of ice and downed the last sip of wine, I swore I’d never use cheap plastic containers again, so Tupperware lady, call me. I also now understand the old adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

• • • • •

Attention Hammonton High School class of 1970! COVID-19 cheated us out of our 50th reunion, but now is time for you to help plan a get together for this fall. Not a reunion as such, but an evening of reminiscing and catching up. Our class is having a meeting on Tuesday, August 17 at the Hammonton Women’s Civic Club on Broadway at 7 p.m.

I just paged through our high school yearbook and each of your faces brought back warm memories. When I saw Frank Domenico’s face all I could think of was him singing “Grazing in the Grass” and smiling ear to ear. I saw Michele Benedetto’s photo and remembered playing Barbie dolls with her, while Michele Gaimari’s face brought back memories of us hanging on the monkey bars in my backyard. Herb Myers and Sam Granato’s photos reminded me that they were my very best friends in the basement classroom in the old brick building.

I remember sitting behind Auggie Wuillerman in ninth grade Spanish, having a hair growing contest with Bonnie Ordille, walking home from school with Kathy DeSario, sharing Beatles magazines with Darlene Camerata, playing Bonnie and Clyde with Don Delessio, watching Mike Lardi fix cars in his garage, double dating with Bob Capelli, sharing secrets with Anthony Inferrera, riding bikes with Debbie Vacarella and going steady with Chris Eckhoff. All wonderful memories!

It doesn’t matter if in high school you were a popular kid or a geek, a wall flower or a drama queen. We have all survived nearly 70 years of life’s ups and downs. We need you at the meeting.

Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to


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