August Break #6 ~ Together, way back then

Bill, Irene, & family July 1959-edit1

Shown here: my parents, Bill and Irene; and their children, from oldest to youngest, Billy, Wanda (me), Wynne, and Laura. I treasure this photo because I was too young to have a personal recollection of this event.

This 1959 image might be the earliest version of our extended family’s typical reunion photo, i.e., everyone sorts themselves out by family group and anyone with a camera commemorates the moment. Over the years, we’ve grown to appreciate these reunion photos because they show the changes in family composition—we celebrate every new birth and mourn each deceased. There is an element of competition—each family unit wants to have as many members present as possible. More than half a century later, we all realize that the John and Dorothy clan have outclassed us all—there’s a lot of them and they are more dedicated than the average to attending our now biennial reunions.

There are other photos in this series showing at least three generations: the men settled themselves on one set of chairs and benches (I’m pretty sure my dad and the present brothers managed to arrange themselves from oldest to youngest) and women and children are shown in a separate photo. Everyone is outdoors—mostly because the family home wasn’t large enough to accommodate such a large group.

My vague memories:
– It seemed like it took forever to get to Grandpa’s farm but, in reality, I think it was only about 13 miles from where we lived (childishly: are we there yet?)…
– We had to ford a river to get there…
– I have no idea what the meal of the day was but I’m sure no one went away hungry…
– The phone was a party line, so you had to listen for your “ring”…
– Water was hand pumped from the well that was immediately adjacent to the house…
– The outhouse seemed miles away and you had to contend with nasty geese to get there…
– The railroad was just over the hill, so the train’s whistle marked the time and punctuated conversation…

Posted for Sian Fair’s Storytelling Sunday and for Susannah Conway’s August Break.


6 thoughts on “August Break #6 ~ Together, way back then

  1. That is a lovely photo and recollections. The family where I live don’t go to family reunions due to a age old family rift … I didn’t even know they happened until recently. But the other side of my family have a family reunion every two years. In 2008 we were lucky enough to be able to join up with my mom and travel there. It is probably the only time I will ever be able to go and we had a great time. And no-one went home hungry either! LOL I think that is a reunion rule!

  2. You have such a charming writing style, Wanda, I almost was there at one of your reunions, the little details you describe are so evocative! Like Sian, I am rather envious.
    Your photo is so so beautiful, the dappled sunlight, and no-one looking directly at the camera, a really precious moment in time.

  3. Oh, this is just so lovely..that photo and the way it has drawn from you a collection of memories, little glances back in time. Perfectly precious (I come from a small family and I love the thought of a big family reunion). Thanks Wanda.

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