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by and George Baker Gene Sampieri

   Another year has passed and once again another successful reunion for the Hugh Purvis shipmates. This year we were in Harrisburg, PA with the main idea of meeting up with our shipmates from so many years ago and new ones we have met at previous reunions. Whether this was your first reunion or one of many, it  seems you all had a great time.

    Our stay was at the Harrisburg-Hershey Red Lion Hotel. It is a fairly large place with a good restaurant, bar, pools etc. and especially great service.  There were a number of good restaurants in the area, though most need transportation to get to (the hotel provided a shuttle out to five miles). Access to the hotel off the interstates was easy.
    Some attendees came in a day or so before the start, as usual, though most arrived throughout the day on Tuesday, June 20th (a few also stayed afterward to see more of the area). By the time of the formal 3pm opening of the “Hospitality Room”, there were already quite a few shipmates there ready to check in and get re-acquainted. There were plenty of snacks and beverages available throughout the three days as we picked up our registration envelope, our registration gift (an acrylic paperweight with the shop’s image), and any shirt/hat packages we may have ordered.
    The first day of tours was Wednesday. There were two scheduled:  one to the UTZ factory to see how they make their potato chips and snack foods and a second one to the Harley Motorcycle factory. The UTZ tour showed how the chips are produced, processed and packaged. The factory produces over 3.3 million pounds of snacks per week, with half of those being potato chips.  The Harley tour was what they call a Steel Toe tour. It is accomplished on the actual factory floor and attendees had to have closed toe shoes. The plant has expanded to now build all models and versions of their bikes for anywhere in the world.  They receive their engines form an engine plant and do the entire bike assembly here.  Some areas were very interesting, especially the detail and precision they take in their painting of the bikes.  

    After the Harley tour, we made a short stop at the Bird In Hand Farmers Market, located in of course, Bird In Hand, PA. The food and produce selection was unbelievable and there was also a rather large souvenir store as well. Across the road, they were setting up for a quarterly auction that had everything  from single horse drawn plows, to storage sheds. Both buses then met up at the Plain and Fancy Farm for a “family style” lunch. Various dishes of meats, vegetables and other food items were placed on the table and replenished when needed. They put on quite a good meal. Several beverages and deserts were also provided. After lunch we went to see a movie on the decision process a young Amish person must make as whether to leave the farm and become an “Englisher” or be baptized and lead a life in the way of the Amish traditions. 90% decide to stay Amish. The four dimensional movie was excellent.  This was followed by a tour of a “typical PA Dutch home and a one room school. In the home, all boys share one bedroom and the girls another. The average family has 7 children.  The parents have their own bedroom, usually on the first floor. In the school, all ages (class levels) meet in one room with one teacher. They only go to school through the 8th grade. Also at the farm was the usual gift shop that many visited.

    We arrived back at the hotel around 5:00 with more time in the hospitality room. Some were too full to go for dinner due to the big lunch. The room remained opened as long as someone wanted to be there.

    The second day tour, Thursday, started early. We boarded two busses at 7:15 a.m. as it is an hour trip to Gettysburg. For most of us, this was the highlight of the reunion. The Gettysburg Battle Ground tour was a two hour bus tour,  stopping at  the Pennsylvania Memorial and Little Round Top. The guides who came on the busses were outstanding and never stopped providing information the entire two hours. Our annual Memorial Service was held at the Pennsylvania Memorial. Two lines of shipmates were formed to pass the wreath along to the head of the line and placed on its stand. An invocation, provided by Chaplain Brian Goode was presented by George Baker. Taps were provided by Julius “Butch” Guzejko.

    After the bus tour, we were taken to the main Visitors Center Museum where we watched a movie about the three day battle, narrated by Morgan Freeman and then we went up to the Cyclorama, a 360 degree painting of the battlefield. This is quite a site. If you have not seen it, you are missing a neat experience. The painting is 42’ high and 377” long, with an audio presentation about the battle.

    After the tour we boarded our bus back to the hotel for our annual business meeting at 3:30 followed by our formal dinner at 6pm (photos, happy hour and dinner).  The hotel staff did an excellent job with the meal delivery, and the food was excellent.  After dinner, we had a 30 minute presentation from the Hershey Historical Society on the life of Milton Hershey. He really made the town of Hershey what it is today, providing free education, an amusement park, library, town hall, trolley system, and most of the things a small city needs to function.  He provided the money to create these.  He also started the Hershey School for Boys who were orphaned, between the ages of 4 – 8.  They stayed right on the farm, doing chores and attending school all the way through high school graduation.  We learned that Milton Hershey was a truly philanthropic individual who gave back so much to his community; he actually created the community.  Before he died, he left all of his fortune to the Hershey School, which today has an endowment in excess of $17,000,000,000 ( yes-billion) dollars!

    All in all it was a great reunion, which we hope everyone enjoyed.  We do hope all of you will make a concerted effort to attend the 2018 reunion in...

 Savannah, GA, Sept, 10 – 14, 2018.
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