Founder Fran’s Briefcase Full of Memories

12/13/2018 by Rebecca Toews

“In my family, we were dirt poor back then, but that’s OK, because everybody was! I remember when someone got a new sweater, the whole class rejoiced,” says Fran Heitzman, Bloomington Minnesota Class of 1943.

It is not every day you get to sit around a table with four people in their 90’s, discussing everything from the political climate during the Hoover years, to the “Green Dragon” Model “A” panel truck that took them and other classmates to Minneapolis “parts unknown” (unknown to their parents anyway) during the early 1940s.

Inez Pond, Fran Heitzman, Dorothy Stewart and Lorraine Bakke might not have seen each other often in the 75 years since graduation, but they have kept up on each other’s lives through the years. The four graduates of Bloomington High School (there was no Kennedy, Jefferson or Lincoln at that time!) got together to reconnect, reminisce and enjoy each other’s company.

One of the classmates was passing through town with her daughter, on the way to a brother-in-law’s 95th birthday celebration in Lake Pepin. Along the way, she just knew she had to make some calls and see who was available to meet up.

Fran Heitzman, founder of Bridging took the opportunity to bring along a briefcase full of memories. He shared playbills from the school play, and beautiful “senior portraits.” You don’t have to look closely at all to see the same spark in the 18-year-old versions of these 93-year old marvels!

“You know, I remember picking potatoes just down the road from where we’re sitting now… We would go out there and pick potatoes with my mom. We’d come back in to the house and put those potatoes in the basement and then people would come over, and we’d give them the extra potatoes that we had. Because people shared back then. That’s just what you did! I think that really taught me early how important it was to help your neighbors.”

The four keep their minds and bodies active by visiting with their community members (all four are still living independently in their respective cities, spending time playing cards and dominoes with family and friends. You can generally find Fran at Bridging in Bloomington six days a week! What an honor to be able to spend an afternoon with members of this generation, sharing stories and lots of laughter.

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