2011 Yamato High School Reunion Videos VHVB · 11/8/2011

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 Yamato High School Reunion

Videos by

 Richard Jacobus Hoops ‘64 

“Getting to Know You"

Since I couldn’t make the reunion this year, my brother, Richard Jacobus '64, promised to take lots of videos and photos for me. Why? Because he loves me! J And….I love him even more for doing this! I think you will all agree that he did a terrific job. I love the way he talks to me in the video…what a kick!

These videos brought the reunion “to life” for me….and I became very emotional as I studied each clip. I felt like I could just reach into the screen and give my Yamato family a great big hug. Also, “getting to know” all of the new faces this time around, made me wish I could pull out my notepad and start interviewing!

Watching Dan Iki '63 and Jan Garrison '63, dancing like pros, was fun to watch. They looked good together, and "boy" can that Jan dance!

Marilou Galley, Class of 1960, looks adorable on the video, and I really missed seeing her. Marilou was the shortest in our class, as you can see below. I wonder what happened to Jim Wiese?  Pictured, Marilou Galley '60...Then & Now... 




What fun to watch everyone pose for class photos. I loved it when Leola Lapides '71 and Kay Dawson '69 on the forehead. This is a perfect example of the tremendous love that runs throughout our alumni.

The cheerleaders…. STILL look terrific. It was cute when someone yelled in the background, “They still got it!”  When Janice Shapiro '72 raised her leg for a cheer, someone yelled “Yeah!”   Men…..they never miss a move like that! And even though I have never met Jan Garrison '63, it was easy to see that she is full of fun!

No one does more work for our alumni than Mike Skidmore '69Ed DeGennaro '64, recognized Mike on Saturday night with an original art piece of a B-36 Peace Maker flown by SAC.  Sketched and signed by the pilot, when he was in the Air Force.

Ed had it framed professionally with Acid free paper, UV glass, and a rosewood frame. As you will see on the video, Ed did a beautiful presentation.  I have never seen Ed speak before a crowd, and was very impressed!  Not only did Ed look handsome, but he is also in great shape!

This art piece was taken from Ed’s own extensive Aviation collection, most signed by the pilots that flew these planes with low collection numbers, limited addition art and original pieces.  Ed intended to give this artwork as a prize on Saturday night.  However, when Wally Maroney '73 saw the art piece, he was so impressed that he asked Ed if he would present it to Mike Skidmore....in appreciation for all the work he has done (through the years) for our Yamato High School reunions.  Like me, Mike, does this purely out of his love for our alumni!  Pictured, Ed DeGennaro '64, Wally Maroney '73  & Mike Skidmore '69



The video of my brother asking Bill Booth '64, if he climbed Mt. Fuji, made me laugh. Yes, my brother, Richard Jacobus Hoops '64, climbed to the top alright….because he didn’t follow the storm warnings!   I thought our parents should have restricted him for that one! After all….I was always getting restricted for doing LESS then that!

I was so moved by the video where, Cheryl Skipton Runyon '64 and Larry Runyon, spoke into the video camera. Dave & I are so lucky to have such special friends! Here is what Larry said,“Dave & Vonnie, I gotta tell you. Today it felt like Cheryl and I were getting married, and the bridesmaid and best man never showed up! That’s the way I feel guy’s! I love you!”

I have never met Cheryl’s sister, Susan Gibson '66, but it was fun hearing her talk to me on the video.

When I saw the "tail end " of the video where Wally Maroney '73 was presenting me with a poster from my alumni, I could not believe what I was hearing!   I asked my brother, “I don’t understand, why they were giving me a poster?” He answered, “I turned off my camera, because I was in a hurry to go sit by Susan Gibson '66! When I heard Wally talking about you, I rushed over to turn the camera back on!” That’s my brother in a nutshell….he can’t resist a pretty face! He then explained that I was being thanked for my part in keeping our memories alive, which made me teary eyed. My sincere thanks to my Yamato family for presenting me with this very special poster, which was mailled to me following the reunion.

On March 11, 2011, off the shore of Japan was hit by an 8.9 earthquake, unleasing a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami. The tsunami  swept through, causing mass destruction and setting off widespread fires that burned out of control. 

On March 12, 2011, Japan Sociey created the Japan Earthquake fund to aid victims. A number of graphic designers & artist released limited-edition artwork that went to various charitable organizations helping out Japan.



I was touched by all of the e-mails and facebook postings expressing how much we were missed at the reunion…our love and thanks to all of you! The funniest message was from Wally Maroney ,73 which read, “Vonnie, Vonnie, Vonnie, so many stories to tell and no one to tell them to...” By the way, Wally, it’s not to late to fill me in!

Fashion News:  Everyone looked fabulous all dressed up on Saturday night. To name a few…I loved the red beaded top Paulette Peacher was wearing.  Carleen DeGennarro looked beautiful & thin in her royal blue dress.  Cheryl Skipton looked very sexy in her teal blue dress , pulled at the waist with the rhinestone clip. Libby Blackstead looked lovely, as always, and I liked her shoes! Cyd Muramoto always carrying a great big smile, looked great in her dress. My brother, Richard Jacobus Hoops looked good wearing all of the Yamato attire.The videos at the end where my brother is leaving Vegas and arriving home were also fun to watch.Sandy and Sandycaretaker, Erlene, and Sandyson-in-law, Birt, were at the airport to welcome him home.  We all love Sandy, she is an incredible lady! 

Getting these videos ready for posting was my pleasure, and I hope you all enjoy them. Words cannot express how much we missed everyone. Now...I am left with photos, videos and new faces....as I set out "getting to know" all about you….

By: Vonnie (11-18-11)



The Strategic Air Command (SAC



The Strategic Air Command (SAC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), and Air Defense Command (ADC) became the three major combat commands of the United States Air Force on March 21, 1946


President Dwight D. Eisenhower made the Strategic Air Command the United States’ primary nuclear deterrent force.


Colonel. A.A. Arnhym, under the direction of SAC Commander-in-Chief General Thomas S. Power, fulfills LeMay’s vision of creating a Museum for the preservation of historic aircraft by opening the Strategic Aerospace Museum at Offutt AFB in Nebraska. The first artifact to be placed in the Museum was a B-36 Peacemaker, which arrived on April 22, 1959. The Museum was located at the end of an old runway at Offutt AFB.


To date, visitors from all 50 states and 20 foreign countries have visited the Museum. The future of the Museum will offer its ever-increasing number of visitors who seek to learn about math, science, engineering, aviation, and space, a number of traveling and permanent exhibits and educational programs.


50th Anniversary of Strategic Air & Space Museum



My maternal Grandfather, Edward Topping, was born and raised on the Topping Ranch near Fresno in the Hildreth area of O'Neals, Caifornia. The 2,000-acre ranch adjoining the San Joaquin River continues to be a family operation. All of my life, I heard stories about cowboy star, Slim Pickens, because lived in the same area as the Topping ranch. He also did the rodeo circuit with the Topping boys. According to family gossip, he was sweet on my mom!



Slim Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. on June 29, 1919 not far from Fresno, California, and raised in California's San Joaquin Valley. By age 4 he was an excellent rider, and at age 12 he quit school to join the rodeo. He was told that working in the rodeo was “slim pickings” meaning very little money, and that is when he became known by the stage name Slim Pickens. 

As told to Ed Zern,

Pickens spent the early part of his career as a real cowboy, and the latter part playing a cowboy. Pickens eventually became a well-known rodeo clown….one of the most dangerous jobs in live entertainment.   After 20 years on the rodeo circuit, Slim Pickens (age 31) landed a role in the western, Rocky Mountain (1950) starring Errol Flynn.

“Well, there was this big, lanky, fourteen-year-old California ranch kid, and he went into the rodeo manager's office and said, "Mister, I want to sign up for the calf-roping, but my paw says I ain't allowed to. So I can't use my right name." And the manager said, "Son, no matter what name you use, it'll be slim pickin's out there today." So the boy said, "That's as good a name as any, I reckon-put me down as Slim Pickin's." The manager spelled it "Pickens," and the boy won $400 that afternoon.”

Pickens is best known for his role as Major T.J. “King” Kong waving his cowboy hat rodeo-style as he rides a nuclear bomb in the 1964 black comedy film, Dr. Strangelove, which satirizes the nuclear scare.
James Earl Jones recalls, "He was Major Kong on and off the set—he didn't change a thing—his temperament, his language, his behavior."  When he arrived on the set somebody said, “Gosh, he’s arrived in costume!” They didn’t realize that was how he always dressed, with the cowboy hat, fringed jacket, and cowboy boots! He spoke in his natural horse voice with a pronounced western twang, and the British crew thought he was “Method” acting.

Peter Sellers was originally going to ride the atom bomb in “Dr. Strangelove”, until he fell and broke a hip.

For the role in Dr. Strangelove, Pickens had to travel to Shepperton Studios in England. Pickens had never been out of the United States before, and neglected to get a passport. When he arrived at the airport, they did not allow him to leave until he got one.

Before Dr. Strangelove, Pickens played only minor supporting and character roles. He credited this movie as a turning point in his career, and was amazed at the difference a single movie could make. Previously he was "Hey you" on sets and afterward he was addressed as "Mr. Pickens."  He later commented, "After Dr. Strangelove, the roles, the dressing rooms and the checks all started gettin’ bigger."  "After 'Dr. Strangelove, my salary jumped five times," he said. "And assistant directors started saying, 'Hey, Slim' instead of, 'Hey, you.'

During his rodeo career, Pickens broke almost every bone in his body. Slim Pickens worked in over 168 film and television projects over the course of his career.

In 1982, Pickens was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In1986, Pickens was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame of the Rodeo Historical Society (a support group of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum)

In 2005, Pickens was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO for his work as a Rodeo Clown. 

In his later years, Slim was a civilian pilot with multi-engine rating and enjoyed flying in a green U.S. Air Force flight suit wearing a cowboy hat….similar to wardrobe he wore riding the atom bomb in "Dr. Strangelove".

On December 8, 1983 Pickens died after surgery for a brain tumor in Modesto, California at the age of 64.  He was survived by his wife Margaret and three children, Daryle Ann, Thom, and Margaret Lou. His brother has acted under the name Easy Pickens.  


Vonnie (Hoops-Vizcarra) Beattie

Class of 1960

Yamato High School

Air Force Japan Dependents School
Yamato Air Station, Japan

 "Welcome to Vonnie’s World”

"My Yamato High School Website"


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