(Posted March 30, 2022)
The Jonathan Alder Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet this year following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. At 6 p.m. May 28, the banquet room doors at Der Dutchman will open with dinner served at 6:30.
The cost is $25 per person. Pre-paid reservations are required. Make checks payable to the JA Alumni Assn. and mail to P.O. Box 82, Plain City, OH 43064. For additional information, call Pat Anderson at (614) 403-9236.
This will be the first banquet in 78 years without the presence of the late Mary Andrews Mitchell, who lent her time and prodigious talents to the Alumni Association and many other local groups and activities.
The Alumni Association has a long history, beginning with the Plain City Alumni Association, which was formed in 1889, just three years after the first senior class graduated from the Union School on South Chillicothe Street.
The earliest alumni banquet for which present-day organizers have a record is the fifth, which was held in 1893 in the “K. of P. Hall” (probably the Odd Fellows/Knights of Pythias Opera House on Gay Street). The newspaper article reports that the doors opened at 8:30 and nearly 90 guests attended. The program began at 10 with music and recitations. Dinner followed with a number of toasts and responses. “The rest of the evening was spent upstairs in conversation and music until 2 o’clock when all left feeling that one more joyful season had passed.”
The social hour at the 1894 banquet was described as “old friends renewing acquaintances and reviewing the scenes of the past year and relating experiences in the college, on the farm, in politics or in business and in teaching. For it is a well known fact that these young men and women are not of the fossilized kind who, when the diploma is received, think that is all life’s activities, but they are an active progressive band, climbing up the ladder of success to the temples of honor and fame.”
The 1894 banquet was notable for a municipal innovation. “The hall was lit up by the new incandescent lamps until half-past one when darkness was declared at the power house by the stoppage of the dynamos…. The winking of the electric lights warned the people that it was time to go, so good byes were said, when the guests and others stepped out into the moonlight and each sought his sleeping place.’
The Plain City Historical Society has a partial collection of banquet programs from 1910 on. Some of the early menus might raise a few eyebrows. In 1921, bread and butter, pineapple salad, olives, pressed pork, brick ice cream, angel food cake and coffee were offered.
In 1944, the Plain City Alumni Association published a roster of graduates from 1886 on. The Historical Society has a list of graduates up to 2018, mostly from Plain City and Alder, but also some older ones from Canaan, Monroe and New California.