Fall means pumpkins and spices, sweaters and boots, but to a group of Fredericktown Class of 1971 graduates it means just a little bit more.
Every fall a group of nearly 20 guys comes back together in Fredericktown for a few days of food, golfing, camping and memories.
The St. Francis Outfitters, as they call themselves, start their yearly get together at The Pig BBQ for lunch on Wednesday.
“We start at The Pig, always The Pig,” Bob Mooney said. “That’s the thing about people who grew up here when they come back to town they always have to eat at The Pig.”
Mooney said it started back during one of the class reunions when a bunch of them decided to go have lunch at The Pig. He said when they got there they saw two other groups from the class doing the same thing.
After lunch they head over to Beaver Valley Golf Club to begin the two-day golfing competition before heading to the river on Friday.
The idea began in 1983 by Mooney, Keith Myers, Mike Young and Gary Fields. The plans and activities may have changed a little over time, as have the attendees, but what remains the same is how much the trip means to each of them.
“They are just like a second family to me,” Myers said. “These guys I could call them and say ‘hey I got a problem, can you help me?’ and they’d be there before some of my family would.”
Myers said they keep the tradition alive so they are able to enjoy the good times that they have had since high school. He said as they get older the memories are not always going to be good.
“This is not even a reunion,” Myers said. “You have to make an effort to keep in touch.”
Classmates fly in from seven states including Washington, Georgia, Texas and Michigan.
“One of the best memories is the cross gigging story,” Myers said. “Bob Mooney, John Kinder, another guy in the middle and me in the back and you just gig the fish right there in front of you or you will tip the boat over with that many guys in the boat. Mooney saw a big fish and he went to gig it and he went over us so everybody go out of the way and we almost turned the boat over.”
Mooney recalled that memory as well and said they almost went swimming.
“You may not necessarily have been friends with all of these guys through high school but it shows how people change and grow over time,” Mooney said. “We have just continued to keep in touch and that is what it is all about.”
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com