I haven’t got a clue who the people are in this old photograph, but they look like part of the same genealogy – the family tree filled with all kinds of nuts. My own family was much like this and I recall getting together with them for reunions in the summer time. We didn’t know most of the people in attendance, but we were assured they were long lost relatives from one of our parent’s side of the family.
One thing for sure in those days is that everyone dressed up for a picnic or family gathering of any kind. They knew there would be a photograph snapped during the course of the event and they wanted to look their best. Just rounding up all those various sized children was a task in itself and then to have them sit still long enough to have a semi-professional take a photo that would show off all the good elements of each of the members.
We’d dine on potato salad, fried chicken, homemade ice cream and deviled eggs – not to mention tasty homemade pies and cakes. Everything sat in the warmth of the July sun until every last lick was eaten. Today those tasty morsels would be like certain death and the evidence of food poisoning would be apparent the next day. Maybe in those days the same was true, but we went on living anyway.
Getting together with family was pretty easy too. Most everyone lived close by and the need to search for the long lost relative, didn’t take long. Today, families are spread all over the map and it’s not nearly as easy to get together. I kind of miss those times, especially as I grow closer to the end of my days.
There was my mom’s aunt, who once got stuck in our recliner and her ample size created special challenges for my thin husband.
There were the cousins we never really got to know except for that one day a year. There were second and third cousins too. Farm families were often larger than city ones, so relatives we didn’t even know were on hand. These same people were on hand for every wedding and funeral to occur throughout the year, often serving more of that poisoned potato salad.
We had sack races, played horse shoes, contests of all kinds, usually designed to bring out the competitive spirit and pit cousin against cousin. The end of the day would consist of a huge bonfire and stories of old being spun as the crackle of burning logs filled the air.
There always seems to be one black sheep of the family – whose name would certainly come up at least once. Whatever happened to old what’s his name? Last I heard, he was in prison for stealing chickens
There was the yodeling cousin, her sibling who could click the roof of his mouth with his tongue and another cousin strummed on a wash board. This was done for the entertainment of the elders. I’d often direct some kind of skit as well. This was one thing my cousins dreaded, but it turned into a career for me.
We can’t chose our family members. They’re a part of who we are. We all come from the same DNA so there is a natural bond. There are a few we’d much rather not be related to, but keeping connected is sadly a lost tradition. I can’t wait for that final reunion in heaven. I’m sure I won’t recognize any of them.