Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Going Back Part 3: Family Time & Reunions

Welcome back. In my 3rd installment of this series I will be writing about time spent with family and friends during my recent visit to Pennsylvania.  

Each of the 3 mornings I was in Easton, I went to breakfast with my family. 

On Friday, August 11, we went to the Perkins restaurant on Rt. 191 in nearby Bethlehem. It was my niece, Marci's birthday. She was there with her kids, Olyvia and Jordan, and her husband, Chuck. Also there were my niece, Teejai, and nephew, Bobby; sister, Peggy; my cousin-in-law, Paula; along with her daughter and granddaughter.  

The next two mornings, I went out to breakfast as well. On Saturday, my sisters, brothers-in-law, niece and nephew went to "The Palace" restaurant in Bethlehem township. Sunday morning we went to one of my favorite places in Easton for breakfast, The Bagelsmith. Their pork roll, egg & cheese bagel sandwich is the best.

Other than going out to eat breakfast the time with family was spent at my sister, Shari's house.

My nephew, Bobby, cooked dinner for us on Friday and Sunday. He's a pretty good cook and enjoys serving everyone. On Saturday evening, we had cheese steaks from a popular fast food place. 

Also, on Sunday night, we celebrated my brother-in-law, Bobby's birthday. Shari made a delicious homemade ice cream cake. 

Of course, I knew that everyone in my family would want to come by and hang out. But there were 3 family members that I wasn't sure would be happy to see me. 

But shortly after I arrived at the Pearson's house on Friday afternoon, I was fast friends with them. I had met their oldest pet, Blossom, when she visited my house years ago. But now that she was older, I wasn't sure she would remember me. She was fine and acted happy to see me. 
The other 2 Pearson pups I had never met before. But as you can tell from this picture Duncan and Benny really liked me. 

As I mentioned in my last post, on Saturday afternoon, August 12, I went to Walter's Park in Phillipsburg for my family reunion. 
This annual event is a "pot luck" style picnic that includes several families with ties to my dad and his sisters. It is organized by my cousin, Pam. (you may recognize her name as the winner of my 50,000 views prize earlier this year)
The pavilion at the center of Walter's Park is where everyone gathered to eat and enjoy each other's company. 
I arrived early afternoon, shortly after my solo tour of the town I wrote about in my last post.

My first surprise came even before I stepped under the pavilion. 

I found out from a family member that someone from my high school graduating class, not part of our reunion, was at the park for a picnic as well. 

Gary Hogland was with some friends and he found out that I was going to be there. He made sure that I was told to go over and say "hi" to him. 

So even before my reunion with family members, for a few minutes, I had a reunion with one of the members of the PHS graduating class of 78. 

Other than my brother-in-law, Bob, I hadn't expected to see anyone from my graduating class that day. It was a complete coincidence. 

Since I hadn't seen Gary Hogland in more than 40 years; it was kind of awkward to try and catch up in just a few minutes. But he seemed glad to see me. He had recently had a personal turn around and he was proud of it. All in all it was good to see him. 

I walked into the pavilion and was met by Julie, one of Pam's daughter's. She was handing out name tags as everyone arrived. She gave me one that read "Ronnie". I know I usually go by "Ron" but everyone there that afternoon knew me as "Ronnie" or, even worse, "Little Ronnie."

Since it had been over 20 years since I'd been to a family reunion a lot of the people I didn't recognize. 

I walked past most of them until I found my sisters and their families at a table in the middle of the pavilion. 

My sister, Peggy, and niece, TeeJai...

...My sister, Shari and cousin Paula.

In this picture from left to right is: my brother-in-law Gene; my cousin, Tommy, his son, Tommy Jr; my cousin Linda's husband, Mark; and my brother-in-law, Bob. 
Initially, I was a little disappointed when I learned that some of my cousins weren't going to be there. I really wanted to see my cousins, Gary and Lee (who were my closest family friends when I was growing up). But they weren't there. I would also have liked to have seen my cousin, Roger. But he was in Walt Disney World with his grandchildren. Can't blame him for that. 

I started going around and talking to those who were there and I realized what a special day this was going to be. 

It was great to see my cousins, their kids and grandkids. I wasn't sure who everyone was but it was cool just knowing that even though someone might not have been a direct part of my family tree; they were in the same forest.  

It was a real surprise to me to learn that there were people who wanted to see me. 

Here, I have to give you a little back story regarding the dichotomy that connects me to some of those who were there.  

In my last post, I shared with you a picture of the unit in the housing project where I lived until I was 10 years old. 

This cropped version of that pic (sorry for the blurriness) shows my old "house" on the right. The unit on the left is where the "Kish" family lived for most of the time I lived there. 

Bessy Kish lived there with her kids: Larry, Clarence, and Carol. Carol was around my age and was one of my first neighborhood friends. 

This was back in the days when neighbors actually knew and socialized with each other. So my mom, a very social person, was friends with Mrs. Kish. The association of the two families stemmed from their relationship. 

The Kish kids weren't the only children that Bessy (the only first name I ever heard her called) had. She had kids with the last name "Huff" and also "Seguine". 

Here's where friends and family intertwine. Although I am not going to go into the details I will tell you that at one point Mrs. Kish's son, Raymond Seguine, was introduced to my dad's sister, Eileen. Both were unmarried at the time. 

To make a long story short, they got married. Thus the Seguine family and the Havens family became connected through both friendship and extended family. 

So even though the majority of the people at the reunion weren't blood relations, they were part of my childhood. 

Kenny and Carol Huff, a married couple who are now in their 70s, seemed really happy to see me for the first time in decades. 

I knew that both of them were going to be there and it was nice to see them. I was surprised to see Kenny's brother, Phil, there. 

I know I hadn't seen Phil Huff in over 50 years. Although I'm not sure about the reasons or circumstances because I was a preschooler at the time, I do remember that, Phil lived at our house for a while before and after his service in the US Air Force back in the mid 1960s.  

One thing stands out in my mind about his living in our house. He is the reason my mom had a "We are an Air Force family" sticker on the inside of the top of the middle pane of her most treasured possession: her china closet. That's what I told him when we talked. 

I didn't get any pictures of Phil but he is on my You Tube reunion video. This relatively short video takes a quick tour of some of those who were part of the reunion. Here's the link.  August 2017 Family Reunion

The reunion was nice and well worth the effort to make the trip back to Pennsylvania. 

One of my regrets in regard to family, is that due to the limited amount of the time, I didn't get to hang out with with my cousin, Pam, like I wanted to. 

She also did a great job of organizing and hosting the reunion. Hopefully, I will get to visit with her the next time I go back.

On Sunday August 13, at lunch time I arranged to meet up with a couple of long time friends at the Ruby Tuesdays restaurant next to Rt. 33 in Palmer Township.

Larry & Gene came to visit me in Kentucky last September so I thought I'd return the favor on my visit.  You can read the details of that Kentucky visit through this link: 
PA Friends In Kentucky

Larry arrived first and he and I sat outside the restaurant waiting for Gene. As we talked, much to my surprise, a car pulled into the parking lot and some other long time friends got out. 

It was Sandi and Jeff Fitzgerald and their son, Josh, and his new wife, Susan, were with them. We sat and talked for a while. Sandi took this selfie of the two of us. 
Soon, Sandi's sister, Diane Regal, and her husband, Dan, came to join them. It was yet another unexpected reunion. 

Finally, Gene arrived and it was time for the 3 of us to go have lunch. I said "good-bye" to the Fitzgeralds and Reagles. They joining other friends who were seated in another part of the restaurant. 

Although it had been almost a year since we had seen each other, Gene, Larry, and I, were soon talking, laughing, and sharing stories like no time had passed at all. 

The topics of our conversation included everything from past church experiences to the current baseball season. 

The hour and a half we spent enjoying each other's company went by in a flash. They were nice enough to pick up the check. 

So there you have the stories behind time spend with my family, extended family, and friends during my trip back to Pennsylvania. Thanks for taking the time to read about it. Hope you enjoyed what I had to share. 

My next installment in this series will focus on my afternoon with my niece and nephew in downtown Easton and the couple of times I felt like I'd stepped into a time machine. 

I'll warm up the Delorean and put fuel in the flux capacitor. You just be sure to come back. 

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