A picture of a family reunion on a farm east of Kearney, Nebraska about 1900 shows a sober bunch, many children, many women. Only two men stand in the back row. But when I click on the picture to enlarge it, I see at least seven more adult men in the back of the picture, standing by their rigs—four different kinds of buggies and eight horses. Good for them, they're showing off - their wives, their children, their horses and buggies. You can see the picture at http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query. Then scroll down and click on number 5.
Delightful pictures from this Library of Congress site show family reunions, military reunions, high school and college reunions, every kind of reunion. It's time for reunions.
When you get that reunion notice in the mail or e-mail, don't delete it, don't throw it away. Consider joining your family or other group in a few hours or days of connection and camaraderie.
You haven't received any reunion invitations yet? Then maybe you had better go to work and put one together for your family or group. But you had better work quickly. Summer schedules fill up fast.
A veteran organizer of many reunions, I still made the classic mistake this year of telling everyone the date and place without first reserving the nearby motel. Another group of reunion goers beat me to the fourteen rooms in our town's single motel. So I had to back the dates up a week. But I've got them now: the time and the place. I even have an outline of activities. Very quickly I must reserve the nearby state park pavilion and maybe even a few canoes.
The reunion I'm working on this summer includes our children and grandchildren, so I know who I am inviting. We'll concentrate on historical sites and plan a day by the lake to visit and play.
But the Free reunion for next summer? I don't even know these more distant cousins, so I'll be heading for cyber space to find as many as I can. Maybe you know some of them. We're having the first and only Annie Hicks Free reunion. All descendants of her husband, Absalom Pennington Free, are invited. The daughters married into families with these surnames: Hyder, Whitehead, Jarrold, Wells, Young, Kimball, Smith, Jones, Rock, Quayle, and Morris.
I've headed reunions before, and they are an unbelievable amount of work, mostly unappreciated. So please, support your local reunion, with time, energy, attendance, money, food, historical stuff, and kudos. Give thanks for and to the organizers of reunions. Just go, drag the kids along and make it fun.
If you don't want to put your family reunion together, you can hire someone from the National Association of Reunion Managers (NARM) to do it for you. What do they do? Reunions Unlimited in Olympia, Washington provides a guide book with advice about exciting programs, awards ceremonies, memorial and memorabilia displays. They offer cruises, museum and airport visits. They take the pain out of reunion planning, but add pain to the pocketbook.
If you or someone you know is doing your family reunion this year, you can obtain a copy of Reunions Workbook and Catalog for about $10. Write, P.O. Box 11727 Milwaukee, WI 53211-0727. This slick little magazine outlines the steps for a successful reunion.
For those just starting on next year's reunion, here are some suggestions. First, find a friend, a cousin, a spouse, a child, someone who is as excited about the reunion as you are. Someone who will be up when you are down and vice versa. If you can find three or a dozen, hooray. Second, among you, determine you will not be offended—by each other, by the relatives, by the vendors.
Then determine a budget and time and place. If you can find a meaningful anniversary date in the life of an ancestor, it enriches the whole event. Next, let people know the time and place and that you need their help. Ask for money; do some fund-raising.
And advertise, advertise, advertise! Most of the first reunion notifications will end up in the garbage. Studies indicate it takes an average of seven exposures to something before people act on it. So plan interesting, entertaining notices and brochures.
If your family historian is going to have something ready for the family, he or she will need to be invited to start work on it immediately. Take these steps to get you started on your next reunion. I've got to get going on mine too. It's time for reunions.