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Posts Tagged ‘reunion’

This photograph was taken in Coshocton, Ohio in the early 1940s.  Those in the picture include:
Back Standing: Norman, Gail, Bervil, Paul, & my dad, Gene; Front row: Gertrude, my grandfather – Lloyd, my grandmother – Ella (House), and Marie.  All seven children of my grandparents were together.  I don’t know the reason for this ocassion.

This photograph was taken in the Summer of 1967 in St. Claire Shores, Michigan at my Uncle Pauls’ home during the very first Amore Sibling (Descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore) reunion.  This reunion was actually recorded on reel-to-reel tape, and I know have the CD of this recording.  I hope to get it transcribed at some point.  Left to right: my dad – Gene, Paul, Marie, Gertrude, Gail, and Norman.  My Uncle Bervil didn’t come to this reunion or to any of the subsequent reunions.  He also never went to the Amore-Baker reunion held for the Descendents of Henry and Annie Amore except maybe once.

This one shows Norman, Paul, Marie, Gail, and Gertrude.  My dad was taking the picture so he’s not in it.  This was taken at a Sibling reunion in the 1970s. 

What I find interesting is how close the brothers and sisters remained most of their lives.  Besides getting together once a year for their own reunion (held at each others’ homes), most of them traveled to the Amore-Baker reunion that was also held every year in Coshocton.  They also visited with each other quite a bit.  Unfortunately as age and health concerns creeped up on each of them, the visits grew further and further apart.  My Uncle Norman moved closer to my dad in the 90s.  My Uncle Paul moved from his home in Michigan to Las Vegas to live with his surviving son after my aunt passed away.  Luckily my dad lived out West for a good number of years and was able to visit him at least once a year.  My Uncle Gail passed away in the early 1980s.  My Aunt Gertrude became more reclusive and stopped communicating with her siblings in the 90s.  Today only Aunt Marie and my dad are the only ones left.  I feel quite lucky that I saw my uncles and aunts a lot while I was growing up since they seemed to be spread out from Illinois to Michigan to Pennsylvania to Ohio.  The last time I saw all of them together (minus Uncle Bervil) was in the early 1970s at the last Sibling reunion I was able to attend.  Someday I hope that all of us that are left – descendents of Lloyd and Ella – now spread out even further than before – can make an effort to come together to remember those who came before us and catch up on family ties.  There are 11 of us first cousins left – many of us haven’t seen each other or spoken to each other in over 30 years.

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Bill at West in New England started a topic on picnics. Several of my fellow Genea-Bloggers have posted on this subject so I thought I would also write a post on this topic.

There would be several of us: my parents, my maternal grandparents, my sister, her husband and two kids, my brother and his wife, and sometimes a friend or two that would wander over from a neighboring house.  Ocassionally there would be cousins who also joined us.  We had two picnic tables in our backyard so we would put the tablecovers over them and lay the spread out.  I don’t know if we actually had barbecued hamburgers and grilled hot dogs or just sandwiches. What I do remember is my mom’s potato salad and the watermelon my grandfather would always bring.  Due to the number of flies that seemed to want to enjoy their own picnic, my folks bought “food” covers so when we were not serving, the food was pretty much left alone by the insects.

Normally some or all of us had been swimming in the backyard pool so we were eating in our swimsuits.  After the food was taken away and the picnic tables were empty, my niece and nephew (and any of my friends who were over) would turn them over, put blankets over them and make them into forts!  This worked until my mother realized that we were being too hard on them and was afraid we’d loosed the legs or knock them around too much.  Thus ended our fort building.  Now why I thought we needed a fort when I had a playhouse my dad had built for me in the backyard, I don’t know!  Probably because it was something different!

We had two full-fledged reunions at our house.  My dad’s siblings, their families, and his uncle came one year to the annual “Descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore” reunion that we hosted.  For 3-4 days the Amore siblings were in the pool, in the kitchen, sitting out in the backyard, eating catered picnic food, and enjoying the yearly get-together.  My grandfather’s family had their reunion one year at our house.  This was the Johnson-Blazer reunion that was normally held in Champagne County, Ohio.  Again, we swam, ate, played badmitten, and had a good time.

It wasn’t the actual picnic food that I remember.  It was the family get-togethers and the fun times we had.

So how about you?  What type of picnics did your family enjoy?

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Did you miss me while I was gone?  Looked like I had quite a few hits while I was away.  Our family just spent a week and a half on vacation visiting family out of state.  While at my mother’s, I did more digging in the photos and ephemera that are in boxes and found some more information.  Then we were in Missouri for my in-laws’ 60th wedding anniversary celebration (a month early).  It was wonderful to finally meet one of the granddaughters-in-law and three of the great-grandchildren as well as the daughter of one of a grandson’s fiancee’.  The in-laws have lots of land and the kids got to fish in both of their ponds, see interesting wildlife they don’t usually see, and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine in a slightly cooler environment than our normal 100 degree temps here in North Texas.  There was much food consumed (read that as A LOT!), many dishes washed and dried, many loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, and lots of hugs and laughs.

I have some updates for a couple of the posts I’ve previously written so I will be getting to those as soon as I can.  Today though – it’s back to the real world which includes work, grocery shopping, bookkeeping and doing laundry!

Thanks for not forgetting me while I was gone!

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(I’ve written these posts to be published while I’m away from the computer – so you won’t have to actually live without me!)

Almost 8 years ago I came across a gold mine of genealogical information which I’ve alluded to before in previous posts.  My mom told me I could search everywhere for anything pertinent.  It was also another way for her to unload stuff on me.  In the very back room of the basement – where she keeps the washer and dryer, inside clothes line, freezer and small appliance items she uses rarely – I opened a large box.  Inside were a couple more boxes.  One had old photos that I pulled out and went through.  Another box held my “artwork” and silly letters I wrote as a young child – items that parents try to keep.  Another box had more photo albums and papers.  Now most of that is in my possession. I came across my mom’s and grandmother’s report cards, pictures of my dad’s family, pictures of my great-grandparents and my mom’s baby sister at death in their caskets (my family is morbid like that!).

Then I went through every single photo album in my mom’s house (at least I think I did!) and removed “old” pictures or photos she told me I could take.  We spent time trying to label photos – especially really old ones of people I didn’t recognize. 

In another part of the basement is a big trunk.  My parents used it to pack clothes and household items when they moved to and from Japan in the 1950s.  Inside were blankets, un-cut material my mom had purchased to make clothes, and then in the very bottom was a box.  Written on the box was “Letters from WWI”.  My first thought was “no!”  There was no way any letters from WWI survived or that my mother would have them.  I opened it and sure enough there were letters.  One was dated May 1916 – my grandparents were still courting!  A hundred letters is an understatement. 

Then my mother found two more boxes with more letters – her letters from Japan to her parents; letters from my grandmother’s mom and siblings to my grandmother; later letters from my grandparents to each other when one of them was out of town.  Then my mom handed me a big manilla folder that contained letters my grandparents wrote her when they were stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany (I’ve posted some of the letters in a previous post).

Then I opened a filing cabinet that had belonged to my grandfather.  Inside were my grandparents’ memorial books, their 50th anniversary book, newspaper clippings, and two rather old looking school notebooks.  One was filled with minutes from my grandfather’s family reunions – Johnson-Shively – held almost every year since before 1920 until after 1920.  Most of the entries were very short and sweet and included the pertinent business meeting information – how much was in the reunion treasury, who was elected President, Vice-President, and Secretary, where the next reunion would be held and quite often the names of those who had passed away, married or born during the year.

When my husband saw the piles of materials that I was going to bring back home, he just shook his head and declared that we were going to have to add another wing to the house!  I feel very fortunate that I ended up with all these materials instead of them being lost to a landfill or to someone who wouldn’t know the importance of these items.  Each time I look at this memorabilia, I discover something new.

How has your treasure hunting been?

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The summer months signal the end of the school year, the smell of chlorine as we spend time at our backyard or community pools, the sound of ice cubes melting in the tall glasses of water or iced tea, and the call of our nomadic beginnings as we think about travel plans.

Many families will travel from several locations to the “old homestead” or a centralized location for the annual Family Reunion.  Fundraisers may have been held to help pay for the festivities.  Extra hours worked for the overtime pay in order to purchase the airline or bus tickets or to put that (high priced) gas in the tanks of vehicles.  Invitations via email or internet message boards have been sent or posted and replies received.  Luggage will be packed and travel “entertainment” chosen for the young ones.  Genealogy information has been downloaded, compiled and printed out to be shared.  Photo CDs have been copied for those who have requested them.  The agenda for the reunion has been planned – probably a catered meal or pot luck; games to enjoy; a side trip to the cemetery, homestead or Civil War Battlefield; and the business meeting – how much in the reunion treasury, recording of the births, marriages, divorces, and deaths of the past year, a formal portrait of the participants, the planning of the date and place for the next reunion; and then the good-byes.

For those who have never attended a family reunion or can’t understand why anyone would care who their third cousin twice removed is, this is a mystery they really can’t fathom.  For those who have enjoyed or endured at least one family reunion, there was at least one thing that happened that has stuck with them.  Possibly it was trying to hide from a cousin who always has picked on you or being excited to see your favorite aunt.  Maybe there was a terrible storm and rained everyone out of the picnic area.  Or you collected recipes of dishes you’ve been dying to have.  Or you discovered other relatives have the same interests you do and now live close to you.  There is something for everyone.

My experience with reunions was (as the Carpenter’s song goes) Long Ago and Far Away.  As a child I attended at least four reunions a year.  One was a reunion of my dad’s siblings (the descendents of Lloyd and Ella Amore).  We would meet at one of the brother’s or sister’s home for a weekend of food, fun, laughter, drinking (if you were of legal age), poker, singing (courtesy of two of my cousins), puppet shows (courtesy of my Aunt Marie), and arguing from someone!  I remember reunions at my Uncle Paul’s and Uncle Gail’s (both in Detroit), my Aunt Gertie’s (in Zanesville, Ohio), my Uncle Norman’s (in Chicago), and my childhood home in Beavercreek, Ohio.  One of my dad’s brothers, Bervil, made it to (I think) one of the reunions but generally just stayed away.  Most of the pictures I have of the siblings don’t include him – so instead of seven there is only six.  One other thing I remember very clearly was there was a scrapbook or photo book that everyone spent time looking at and reminiscing about.  I don’t remember any pictures that were in that book – I do have photos of people looking at it.  I believe my cousin has that book and unfortunately no one has been able to obtain the rights to even look at it in the last 35+ years. 

The second reunion was the Amore-Baker reunion (formerly Amore-Wertz) reunion.  These were the descendents of Henry and Annie Amore and their daughter Clemmie and her husband Benjamin Baker.  We would meet every August at the Coshocton Fairgrounds at the Grange for a day or eating, meeting, and playing.  I remember one year (one of the last I attended before my parents’ divorce), I was enthralled watching some other girls about my age playing across the way.  I asked my mom if I could go play with them and she told me they were related to me.  Unfortunatley I don’t remember their names or who they “belonged” to.  They were part of my great-aunt’s clan of Bakers.  I thought it was sad that our two halves of the family never ate together or met together.  We were just sort of at the same spot.

The third reunion I attended was my Grandmother’s family.  This was the Wilt Reunion and we would travel from our home in Southwestern Ohio across the Indiana border to Noblesville.  It was at the same place every year except the last few I heard about.  Up the hill was an elementary school with a playground.  That’s normally where I would spend most of my day instead of listening to the business meetings or folks trying to “entertain” everyone with their singing or joke telling.  As a child, I wasn’t much interested in how anyone was related to anyone else.  I knew who my first cousins were and I even knew who my mother’s first cousins were and who my grandmother’s siblings were.  The rest of them sort of got lost in the crowd.  One year the Wilt reunion was held at my Grandparent’s apartment party room and pool area.  I wasn’t able to attend as I was already living far from home.  Another year it was held at my brother’s home.  I showed up pregnant with my second child which no one had heard about yet.  I just remember that my mother didn’t attend that year.

The fourth reunion I attended was as an older child and teen.  It was my grandfather’s maternal side – the Johnson – Blazer reunion.  My great-grandmother – who I wrote about in Katie’s Story – was Katie J. Blazer.  We met at the Glen Blazer home in Urbana, Ohio or at our home in Beavercreek.  Glen was the son of Katie’s brother – making him my grandfather’s first cousin.  He and his sister, Ada, were the last of my grandfather’s first cousins, whom my grandfather knew about, who were around.

The last reunion I attended was a Cousin’s Reunion designated as such for we are all cousins and descendents of my maternal grandparents, Glen and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson.  We met the summer following my brother’s death at my first cousin’s home in Ohio.  Three of us who live in other states (my sister and I and the daughter of a cousin) were the only “out of towner’s” to attend.  Two other cousins and their scattered children were unfortunately not able to attend.  Needless to say we didn’t have a business meeting or any agenda to decide how often we wanted to “reunite”.  Several of us started the day out by caravaning to the cemetery where our grandparents and my mom’s baby sister are buried and to the cemetery where my aunt and her husband are buried.  We took dozens of pictures and ate a lot of good food.  There were eight of us “first cousins” and now that my brother is gone, there is seven.  The last time all eight of us were together was my grandparents’ 50th anniversary in 1966 at their home in Kettering, Ohio.  Since then, at least one of us haven’t been able to attend an event.

This year, as you prepare or plan for the big reunion or family event, make sure you make your list of what you want to get out of it.  Do you want to digitally record each family member sharing a story or a memory?  Do you want photos of the whole gang or just the principal family members or the patriarch/matriarch with separate families?  Do you want to share family history research?  Visit a prominent spot of your family history or ancestory?  Then how do you stay in touch the rest of the year? 

Family reunions are important.  It’s a way to connect and actually meet those who share the same ancestors.  However, what’s most important is how do we keep those connections?  We can cultivate them through frequent phone calls, individual visits, or email/snail mail.  One reason is because – someday that family photo book may belong to the individual who has felt “outcast” from the family and you may never see it again!

(Pictures: Top – My dad & his siblings minus my Uncle Bervil; Detroit 1967; Bottom – Amore Sibling Reunion at my house with most everyone in the picture).

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