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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hart Family Reunion

The Hart family reunion is always held on the first Saturday of July. This year's reunion was extra special because my Aunt Marie was able to attend. She gave us quite a scare in the early spring with a bout of pneumonia and we thought we would lose her. But she is a tough woman who has survived many obstacles in her long, rich life. After being in a near-coma, she bounced back and is "feeling pretty good". Good enough to make us all happy that she is still with us and able to commune with us over good food and good talk. She is my mother's youngest sister and the only surviving sibling of that Schaffer/Hart clan.


(On the left is Aunt Marie holding Everett in the mid-1930's. On the right is the house as it appears today. It doesn't actually tilt...that would be the photographer's fault.)

We always have the reunion at my brother Everett's house which happens to be the Schaffer/Hart homestead and was also my home until I was eight. It was built in 1887 by my great-grandfather Peter Schaffer; and has always been owned and lived in by our family. And it always will be. That is a pact that will never be broken.




Aunt Marie telling me to take a pretty picture. And here it is.












My brother Everett is standing to my left with his wife, Gloria. They were married when I was three. My cousin, Earlene Hart Townsend, is on the left with her husband Jim.













With my youngest niece, Melissa, who is Everett's youngest. She is a sweetheart and so are her two sisters and three brothers.










The barn where I spent many hours playing as a child with my cousins and sometimes by myself. It was actually built before the house, so it may be closer to two hundred years old. The American chestnut posts and beams show no signs of age. Chestnut is impervious to insects and rot.




Jaye and Matthew in front of the small stream that runs between the house and driveway. It was a much more adventurous ride down the sidewalk when I was a child...no handrails!  The stream flows into a creek across the road which almost always flash floods when there is heavy rain. The house has never flooded because it sits on a high bank.











Lauren and Melissa's two boys, Harm and Jake, explore the stairs to the basement. I played on those stairs all the time, and in the basement, when Mom would let me. My sisters swear that there are ghosts in there. My late sister Jane told that when she was a teenager, Mom sent her to the cellar to get something and on the way back up, she felt a hand grab her shirt. She turned around on the stone steps to look and she claimed to have seen a ghost wearing an old-fashioned uniform. Lots of screaming ensued! I was never scared to go in there...I loved playing in the dark coolness and smelling Mom's pickled corn and green beans in the big stone crocks weighted down with heavy plates. Those crocks are still in the barn.



This year's turnout was a little light. I'm hoping that next year the whole family will be able to attend. They were missed.

29 comments:

Char said...

spooky about the cellar!!

glad you had a great time - getting together with family like this is always wonderful.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Your pictures always remind me of where I grew up. I was devastated when my grandparents sold their house, and recently my mom and dad have rented out the house I was raised in and built a brand new one. It is so nice, but still! We had a cellar JUST like that. I was terrified of it. All my mom's canning was down there, but so were dead rats and cats and stuff, and there were dark corners. We had to go down there when there were tornados and I was more scared of the cellar than being swept away in the wind.

The Bumbles said...

I hope to organize a new family reunion tradition for my dad's family in the next few years - my oldest cousin and myself promised we'd work to put it together now that our grandmother has died and the recurring motivation to return was her spirit. Her house will likely have to be sold since my uncle cannot afford the taxes and everyone else is planted firmly elsewhere. That is sad to me. I have fond memories of that little mill house and the ditch out front by the road that seemed huge as a little girl but now is an easy stride across.

I'm glad you have such a nice tradition in your family and the physical space to return to. Even if everyone can't gather each time, knowing that you can look forward to the next occasion is a blessing.

Cindy said...

How wonderful it must feel to be in the house of your childhood! My Mom lives just two doors down from my childhood home. I love to walk by there at dusk and peek in the windows as I go by.

I want to see inside that barn. I love old barns! That one looks particularly charming. Do you have any photos to share?

Wanda said...

Nice family heritage, Susan. Our daughter lives on my husband's family property! The continuation of making memories is special.

VioletSky said...

A family reunion with so many generations! I can only wistfully dream.

ds said...

Nice to know there is another family out there with a pact to hang onto their roots. And your family built the house! Looks as though a good time was had by all--even in the spooky cellar ;)

Ruth said...

Susie, this is a beautiful homestead. That barn just sends me. Almost 200 years old!

Aunt Marie is just as pretty as can be, and I hope you'll tell her I said that, if you remember. It's pretty amazingly wonderful that she stayed around after all that scariness.

You are your brother Everett are a lot like me and my brother Nelson. There are 14 years between us, I think there are more between you and Everett.

What a handsome guy Jaye is! I don't think I've ever seen him in a photo, and I for some reason expected him to be lighter-haired. I love seeing him there with Matthew.

As I read your memories and looked at that steep sidewalk and the stairs to the basement, I felt the childhood adventure, and the ghost story almost made me scream too! I remember playing on the steep driveway of my Grandma Olive, just once, and it was when we went for her funeral. Johnnie and I slid cars down it.

I am impressed with how much effort you put into this event (some I saw on Facebook), showing how much it takes to keep a family connected and tended with love. As long as you're there doing that, the Hart family will be together. And yay, we had our Hart reunion the same weekend. :)

Susan said...

Dear Char, I know that family is just as important to you as it is to me. I really did enjoy the day and it was a time to relax and unwind after the frantic getting ready of it.

Susan said...

Dear Sandy, you and I had a very similar upbringing, not only on midwestern farms, but also midwestern values and ideals. How wonderful it is to revisit that, and I'm really sorry that you "can't go home anymore". But at least you can still do a drive-by when you want. The memories are still inside us and that's what matters the most.

Susan said...

Dear Molly, a couple of David's cousins are wanting me to help them reinstitute their family (Hinkle) reunion. It's been 24 years since they had one, and other than getting together for funerals, they haven't all been in one place. I always have a blast with their family, too. I married into a good one.

It's amazing, isn't it, how large things and places looked when you were a child, and how small they seem as an adult.

It had been a couple of years since I had attended our reunion, and it was good to be back in the fold.

Susan said...

Dear Cindy, I promise next time I'm visiting my brother I will take inside pics of the barn! I wanted to do it that day, but he wasn't feeling too well and I didn't want to ask him to open the doors for me.

It is wonderful to go to the homeplace. Sometimes I go upstairs and nose around in the memories. It's pretty much the way it was when I was a child. There's even an old trunk that we can look in. Next time I'll take pics of the inside of the house as well.

Susan said...

Dear Wanda, it's wonderful that your daughter had the opportunity to carry on her paternal heritage! Family is everything and I know how important your family is to you, too.

Susan said...

Dear Sanna, it is very comforting to know that one can go home and be with so many generations at one time. And we always learn something new about our history from Aunt Marie or from my brother. I wish you had the same kind of gatherings yourself.

Susan said...

Dear ds, yes, we always have a grand time when we get together. We learned long ago not to discuss politics or religion and that keeps us all congenial and happy. :)

The house is much improved from the time when I lived there. We didn't even have an inside bathroom and only coal stoves for heat! Everett installed a bathroom and furnace, put new siding on it, new energy-efficient windows, etc. I know some of that takes away from the esthetics of an old house, but if you've ever tried to heat one of them, there's just no other choice. Of course, nowadays, people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring old houses to an original state, but Everett was just a blue-collar working man (retired, of course) and couldn't afford those kinds of improvements. And wouldn't have known to do it anyway.

Susan said...

Dearest Ruthie, I'm going to call Auntie today and tell her what you said! She will love it and get all flustered and say "Pshaw!" I just love her to pieces. I think she's even feeling well enough for me to take her to lunch for her birthday in August. She will be 92 on the 30th.

Everett is almost 20 years older than I, and we had/have the same kind of relationship that you and Nelson have. I never really knew him until the last 20 years. He left for the service right after I was born and I don't remember him until I was 3 or so. But even though we're diametrically opposed when it comes to politics and religion, we know (now) how to keep those things aside and just concentrate on being brother and sister.

I think I've had Jaye in a few of my posts from time to time, but only head shots and it may have been before you came aboard. He IS a good-looking boy, isn't he? Takes after his dad! I just want to cry when I think how much I love him and what a good dad he is to his children and what a good son he is to us. Well, now I am crying.

I had lots of fun growing up partway on that farm. I didn't even realize we were dirt poor until I was grown up. We may have been poor in possessions, but we were and are rich in love.

I think one of the best things that binds us together is the fact that we're both Hart people, although different families. It still amazes me that we have that connection. And that you have your reunion on the same weekend!! Kismet, I tell ya!

dutchbaby said...

I just absolutely loved meeting all these family members and seeing your face for the very first time :-D Your kindness and strength of character is written all over your face, Beautiful Lady!

How great that your beloved childhood home appears to be unaltered and painted in nostalgic mint green, making it that much easier to send you back in time. I'm glad you have that pact.

If you already called Aunt Marie, I'm afraid you'll have to call her back because I think she's so very attractive too. I have a thing about letting Mother Nature decide what color our hair ought to be. I happen to think she knows best. Aunt Marie is a shining example, with her cloud of white hair, so perfect with the orchid-colored blouse she chose to wear.

I remember spending hours in my grandmother's barn in Indonesia when I was a child. It was a great place to soar into the world of imagination. There was a large beehive in the rafters; thank goodness the bees never bothered us.

Wonderful post, Susan!

stacybuckeye said...

Thanks for sharing your childhood with us. When my great aunt died last year her house was sold. It had been in our family for 150 years :( It is so nice that you still get to revisit the happy memories.

Susan said...

Dear dutchbaby, you are so very kind...thank you. Is this really the first time you've seen my face? Well, I have to admit that I usually take horrible pictures and for that reason I'm very camera shy. I might actually let them put this one above my obituary someday! ;-)

I used to try and fool Mother Nature with my hair color, but decided enough was enough and let it grow out. That was painful, unless one enjoys looking like a skunk. That was the last time I cut my hair short. And guess what? today I got it cut even shorter than the picture! No maintenance, that's me, especially in the summer. Now I can just wash, mousse and finger comb and I'm ready to go.

I will be sure to pass along your lovely sentiments to my Auntie. She will be touched.

Oooh, I remember having a HUGE hornet's nest in our barn. Those things are mean.

Susan said...

Dear Stacy, I realize that I'm very fortunate to be able to revisit my childhood anytime I want. Not very many people have that luxury. It's really sad that your family home had to be sold...it seems to be the way of things these days.

Cindy said...

Susan, I have a little something for you on my blog today. http://portlandpeeps.blogspot.com/

Thank you for inspiring me to keep blogging!

alaine@éclectique said...

Great that you're keeping the family home. I couldn't go into that basement on my own after that story!

Oliag said...

I have to say that I am envious of all who have the richness of family reunions...large or small.
and family homesteads...and family traditions...

Your portrait of Aunt Marie is beautiful...I love photos of elders...

Susan said...

Cindy, thank you for the award which I've placed on my sidebar. I love sunflowers!

I'm so happy that you took my advice! I so enjoy reading your posts and looking at your beautiful photography and I most definitely count you as a dear friend.

Susan said...

Alaine, my sisters wouldn't go alone either! If one had to go, she dragged the other one with her. I was a lot younger, so I didn't have to participate. Not that I would have minded, since I loved playing down there.

Susan said...

Oliag, I assume from your comment that your family doesn't have those kind of gatherings? It's never too late to start, you know. Not everyone can have a family homestead, but anyone can have a reunion, even if it's small.

Aunt Marie is thrilled with all this attention! I'll pass along your compliment. Thank you.

((hugs))

Oliag said...

My mother's side of the family used to have rather large reunions of aunts, uncles, cousins every 4th of July...but after the aunts all passed away it was sporadic for a few years then basically stopped as the cousins families grew larger and lived further apart...I miss it but I don't think I would want to do it without my sister...not yet anyways...

Susan said...

Oliag, I understand. I couldn't go to mine the first year after Josh died...it was only a couple of months and I was still deep in mourning. XOXO

Barb said...

These stair are particularly wonderful because they have such special memories attached to them. I hope Aunt Marie is still able to attend the reunions.