Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

Former Del Norter Margaret Hampson's daughter is full of surprises. From her home in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Jan Calkins was able to coordinate an elaborate surprise party in Smith River for her mother's 80th birthday.

"She did a beautiful job, just wonderful, an absolute surprise," said Margaret, whose last name was Molini while growing up in Crescent City.

Margaret, who now lives in Lakewood, Wash., with her husband of 29 years, Mel, was expecting to enjoy a nice lunch with a few close friends. Her daughter had other plans.

On Margaret's birthday, May 1, Jan had given her a birthday card that read, "As your gift, I will drive you, Mel and the kids to Crescent City this summer to enjoy a meal with your closest friends - Barbara, Billie and Pauline. Leave the planning to me and enjoy."

She delivered on that promise, and more. Jan rented a house in Smith River and on July 13 took her parents out to breakfast in Brookings. Upon returning, Margaret expected to visit with three old friends. Instead, about 18 friends and relatives awaited.

"I was thinking we were going to lunch with Billie, Barbara, Pauline and her husband Roger. That's all I thought," said Margaret. "When we got to the house, my daughter honked the horn accidentally, but of course it was a signal for everyone to hide."

"I opened a closet to hang up my jacket and my son was in there with a camera."

Other people came down the stairs, and still others from the broom closet.

"Another one would come out and another and another. They just kept pouring out. My eyes just couldn't adjust to what was happening so fast. I was just blown away."

After graduating from DNHS in 1951, Margaret attended Humboldt State - five of her friends at the Smith River reunion were her former HSU classmates, two of which were her roommates, and they all became schoolteachers.

"After we retired we started getting together every few years," in places such as Victoria, Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, Jacksonville ... We remained very good friends. We just sort of pick up from where we left off."

The Smith River bash was actually Margaret's second 80th birthday surprise, courtesy of her daughter. Jan took her out for what was supposed to be a quiet breakfast in Tacoma, Wash. At the restaurant they went to sit down, and "the waitress said we couldn't sit there," said Margaret. "I turned around and there was the whole family." The quiet breakfast turned into a spirited gathering of 16 family members.

After breakfast they all caravaned to the zoo and rode on the merry-go-round. "That's my favorite ride."

"It was so fantastic. It was such a huge, huge surprise. I thought that was it. That's why I wasn't expecting another birthday party. They sure know how to make turning 80 fun.

"My 60th birthday was a big surprise, too. There were six birthday cakes; each cake had 10 candles on top. They invited everyone I knew; they just kept coming and coming.

"This one certainly surpassed my 60th."

These days, when she's not getting surprised by her daughter, Margaret gardens, quilts and studies Italian. "It all keeps me pretty busy."