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Former Fayette classmates reconnect during Golden Reunion

| Monday, May 26, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
They dated in high school and then lost touch, married and had families. Toni DeMarco Schiavoni, Connellsville Class of 1957 found her way back to Lou Durbin, Connellsville Class of 1953 after their mates passed away and rekindled their high school romance during a Golden Reunion held in Connellsville.
Lori C. Padilla | For the Daily Courier
The Golden Reunion brought together classmates of all ages at East Park on Sunday,May 25, 2014. Those who graduated from Connellsville, no matter which building, and Geibel enjoyed the afternoon reminiscing and listening to the musical collection offered by the Sammy Brooks Band. Sam Brooks took Dee Callahan on a twirl around the dance floor enjoying the music and nice weather.

So many times, people hesitate to attend reunions. Who knows why? This or that person did this or that to me back then. He or she did so much more than I and now is so stuck up. There are plenty of reasons to avoid reunions, so why go?

Curiosity, maybe? Boredom? A desire to go down Memory Lane?

Just go. You never know what can happen — just ask Lou and Toni.

Three years ago, Lou Durbin saw Toni (DeMarco) Shiavoni strolling through East Park and half a century melted away. It was during the first Golden Reunion hosted by Fayette County Culture Trust that they fell back in love. Now they are engaged to be married, and the trust's Golden Reunion carries on as strong as ever.

Sunday's fine weather provided a perfect backdrop for the third Golden Reunion, which featured home-cooked food and homegrown talent: The Sammy Brooks Band.

About 100 people attended. They were graduates of Connellsville, Dunbar, Immaculate Conception and Geibel high schools. All gathered and talked about old times — at school and growing up in the Connellsville area.

Brooks crooned favorites such as “Fly Me to the Moon” to the crowd, waiting for the chance to crank the music up to “Jump, Jive and Wail.”

Those attending took it all in stride.

Among them were Toni (DeMarco) Shiavoni, who was married for 50 years to (the late) James Shiavoni of Connellsville. Lou Durbin grew up in Connellsville and moved away to Pittsburgh, where he still resides. He, too, was married for more than half a century; his wife passed away in recent years. Both marriages were happy, and resulted in several children and grandchildren.

“There's always hope,” said Toni at Sunday's reunion, referring to her reunion with Lou as well as the reunion of Connellsville classmates (she graduated in 1957, Durbin in 1953). She remembered dating Durbin in the early 1950s. “Those were happy, innocent years. The 1950s were great. We went our separate ways and have finally found our way back.”

She and Lou assisted planning Sunday's Golden Reunion at East Park, with assistance from Fayette County Cultural Trust, which sponsors the reunion as a follow-up to the city's Geranium Festival, which was held downtown with great fanfare on Saturday.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer.

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