Teen Towners reunite in Aberdeen
October 21, 2010
- The reunion honored the memory of Dwight Bloom, a former Teen Town director
- Proceeds totaling over $6,000 were donated to the American Cancer Society
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Three hundred former Aberdeen Proving Ground youths came together to celebrate a bygone era, renew old friendships and perhaps recapture some of the magic of their youth during the Teen Town Reunion at American Legion Post 128 in Aberdeen Sept. 28.
Teen Town was the name of a social club for APG youth that existed from 1959 to 1980. The Recreation Services Division, which became the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, operated the facility.
Larry Brinegar of Aberdeen, a former Teen Town member, organized the reunion, which drew former members from as far away as California. The evening included music from live bands whose members performed at the club in their youth. They included the original Alton Street Band and Lucifer's Council. Brinegar, who leads the current tribute band, LIX, performed part of the evening
with the members of his former band, Orange Wedge as well as with LIX. He said the evening was a "humbling experience."
"I'm still getting inundated with so many emails and comments about what an event it was for everyone," Brinegar said. "It was surreal to look around and see all those familiar faces. While it was happening, I think we all felt kind of like we were in heaven."
The reunion honored the memory of Dwight Bloom, a former Teen Town director who passed away from cancer, with proceeds totaling $6,039.96 going to the American Cancer Society. Beth Zych, community manager for the South Atlantic Division, American Cancer Society, Inc., was on had to
receive the donation.
"Because of the generosity and kindness of Larry Brinegar and guests, the American Cancer Society will be able to touch many lives through these proceeds while supporting our mission
of fighting cancer," Zych said. "Our thanks go out to everyone for their support and generosity."
Brinegar received an American Cancer Society Certificate of Appreciation recognizing the Teen Town Reunion contribution. He said the credit went to all the former Teen Towners who remembered Bloom and what he did for them.
"This was a chance for us to all have a good time, get caught up after forty years, and give to
something that has touched us all," Brinegar said. "It was Teen Town all over again.
Erna Bloom, the mother of Dwight Bloom was a co-guest of honor of the reunion. She said she still mourns for her son and a daughter she lost to breast cancer.
"APG was Dwight's life," she said. "He never took a day off if he didn't have to. He loved serving the youngsters and the people of APG. It meant everything to him."
She said she was "touched" when Brinegar and his brother Charles told her about the reunion plans and its purpose.
"By the time they were through we were all crying," she said, adding that during the reunion people she had never met came up to her and told her what Dwight meant to them.
"It was overwhelming and now I'm totally devoted to preserving his memory," she said.
Stan and Steve Walker returned to Aberdeen from Oklahoma with their mother Betty a co-guest of honor and the widow of retired Lt. Col. Aaron E. Walker. The family lived on Plum Point Loop near the Top of the Bay. The twin brothers also entertained in bands at Teen Town with Brinegar.
The Walkers arrived a few days before the reunion and toured Aberdeen and APG with their old friend.
"It's not easy to describe how it felt to see [everyone] again after thirty-nine years," Stanley
Walker said. "It's not like a high school reunion, we were very young. One evening was not enough time. We will have to do it again."
David Beatty, a drummer in the Alton Street Band, which entertained at Teen Town in the 1970s and during the reunion, helped Brinegar carry through the intricate plans to reunite the 300 Teen Towners.
"It was amazing that we actually pulled it off," Beatty said, whose parents were APG civilians. He lost his mother to brain cancer and his father is a cancer survivor. Beatty said he remembered
Bloom as "a caring individual who really cared about the kids and providing us a safe place to have fun."
Band members practiced together at his home the night before the reunion.
"Some hadn't picked up an instrument in years," he said. "It was a surprise for me to see how many people brought back Teen Town scrap books and APG News clippings. One friend even brought back a base drumhead from forty years ago.
"It was heartwarming to see that what we did back in the day meant so much to so many people."
Brinegar said he plans to donate the Teen Town banner, a replica of the original sign, to the new APG Museum.