The ’40s Bunch, the group that helped to reorganize the Montezuma County Historical Society in the early 2000s, will be the grand marshals of the Main Street parade on Dec. 3. They are a group of former students at Calkins School, which held grades one through 12 in Cortez. About eight of the surviving members are expected to ride in the Parade of Lights.
In 1999, the ’40s Bunch formed for the first time after several members organized a class reunion with a 1940s theme. They found they enjoyed meeting and researching local history so much, they formed a regular club for that purpose, naming themselves after the reunion that brought them together. They ended up compiling several books about Montezuma County history, and in 2001 they started working to re-establish the Montezuma County Historical Society, which had been defunct for years. It became formally organized again in 2006.
Afterward, the ’40s Bunch went to work to pursue relics that had been scattered among various storage sites.
The ’40s Bunch also published a loose-leaf book “The ’40s Bunch,” which was donated to local libraries and sold to defray publishing costs.
This year, the Parade of Lights theme is “Preserving Treasured Memories of Christmas Past,” and organizer Terry McCabe, who belongs to the Historical Society, felt it was important to honor a society whose goal for the last 17 years has been exactly that. The parade starts Saturday at 6 p.m.
“They’ve been instrumental in gathering historical relics and artifacts,” she said. “They started all this.”
Members of the “bunch” will ride at the head of the parade, behind the Grand Marshal banner.
Philip and Vivienne Kenyon, two of the founding members of the ’40s Bunch, will be among those riding in the parade. In an article Philip Kenyon wrote about the history of the ’40s Bunch, he said they are “pleased to have had a hand in bringing back the ‘keepers’ of our local past” and are honored to be recognized at the Parade of Lights.
“We were agog when they said our group would be honored at the parade,” Vivienne Kenyon said, adding that most people in the county don’t seem to know they exist. “We’ve been around a long time, and we’re slowly fading away.”
The group originally included about 300 people – nearly everyone who attended that class reunion in 1999. But some have moved away from Montezuma County, some have died, some are too sick to appear in the parade, and others have simply refused, not wanting to spend any time in the limelight. The Kenyons expect about eight to 10 people will make it, including Lavina Saunders, Virginia Graham, Richard Lindsay, Walt and Bobby Jo Ertel, June Head, Carol and Milton Harles, Chuck and Marilyn Haley, Ray Stone, and Vivienne and Phil Kenyon.
In addition to supporting the Historical Society in other areas, the ’40s Bunch has worked hard to preserve the Calkins building. Although their efforts to turn it into a museum in 2001 were unsuccessful, they still hope to keep it standing as a historic landmark. They are also still working toward opening a museum and learning center for the county, and finding a permanent meeting place for the Historical Society.
Last year’s Parade of Lights featured about 70 floats, and McCabe expects a similar turnout this year.