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Monday, August 12, 2013

No Way You're Gonna Believe This - an amazing Reunion story

his year TheReunion fun and family love was too much to be contained in a single day. It needed a whole weekend to soak up all the joy, the history, the story telling and the family. So on Sunday we gathered deep in the countryside between King & Queen County and Essex, at the quaint little fork in the road called Indian Neck. Cousin J had arranged for a horse and carriage tour of several family homes and home sites. 

Only a handful of us could make the Sunday rendezvous and some of them are decidedly camera shy. We met at a spot where all the cars could be parked and where the big horse trailer could be pulled up and unloaded. 

Max and Tim stood by like the pet baby darling cutie pies they knew they were, ready to give out horsey love. Cousin C got in the first pets


But TheQueen got the best horsey snogging.

The folks from Oakley Farm provided the transportation. Eric Oord has a collection of vehicles and some beautiful Percherons, a white pair and a dark one - black in the wintertime and brown with black manes beneath the summer sun. This carriage held all 9 of us comfortably and it's as spic and span as an Amish kitchen.

Driving at horse and buggy pace gives you an entirely different experience. BD and I love our auto-rambles throughout the Virginia backwoods but at this walking pace we could notice things, point out things and reminisce about things without ever missing anything. Oakley Farm is one of the old Pollard family homes (Cousin J) and of course Indian Neck is also the old Hutchinson family stomping grounds and since Pollards and Hutchinsons all married Hoskins - you know - it's FAMILY!!! 

I guess we can even claim the Oords as cousins now - LOL - if they'll have us. Got that Debbie?

We were blessed, too with an overcast sky the whole afternoon. Tiny misty raindrops sort of coated our bare arms once or twice but it was a blissful temperature all afternoon. Perfect to go down long country roads ...

past abandoned homes ...

alongside ponds filled with lily pads ...

You have to admit - this is summertime and the livin' is easy.

One beautiful old Hutchinson home, owned and loved by a favorite library patron was on our itinerary and we were invited to tour the magnificent yard full of the deep mystery of ancient cedars and enormous magnolias, the sighing sweetness of vine covered arbors and a lush green herb garden.

Dr. W and his late wife have been favorite library visitors for years. She was a great lover of history and an intrepid genealogy tracker. At one time she told me she'd bought the old store at Indian Neck and I told her our own connection with that store - how Cousin Eddy Hutchinson had let us keep all our things there when we first moved to the country, while we were still living in Pop's old WWII tent, before we even had our cabin in the woods.

The longer we chatted with Dr. W the more love and tenderness began to grow among all of us so that soon he was being swept up into cousinly hugs. Dr. W even whispered to me that it felt like having family around. He asked us if we would like to tour the oldest part of the house and we all said a resounding YES.

The oldest part has a tiny living room with the most quaint little fireplace in an angled wall, plastered white and smooth. There's a staircase tucked in one corner and a kitchen off the end, but along the side there is a tiny slender room that runs almost the length of the house. While everyone was peeking at the kitchen I stepped into that room and came face to face with ...


Yes! This is a painting my mother did of me when I was about 19. I was sure it was at Mama's house but when we broke that up and divvied up the paintings it wasn't among them. There was another enormous red painting of me that I have at TheCastle - but where this one was remained a mystery. But it's a mystery no more. Evidently this is one of the things that never got picked up from the store and when Cousin Eddy died and  Dr.W bought it, they (or more likely Mrs.W) decided they wanted to keep this. So - no wonder we felt like family. He'd been living with my portrait for 20 years.

I swear - ya just gotta love Virginia and all those family connections. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reunion Time Again

The second Saturday in August - for almost all of my married life that has meant The Hoskins Reunion - a celebration of a marriage that took place in August of 1843 - yes. That's right - that's 160 years ago.  When I was first married I was absolutely enthralled with the idea of a family that still got together after that many generations. After nearly 40 years of living in a community that's about 50% family and another 20% kin, it feels normal - but I still love it just as much as I did when I first experienced it - back in the summer of 1975.

Cousin H and I do all the prep for TheReunion - keeping the mailing list, getting out the invitations, making sure the room is set up. We actually take the day before off to run around town making sure everything's ready.

Then we gather at the church where J. T. Hoskins and his wife Hannah Ware Hoskins, and many of their descendants are buried. It's nice that so many of our long gone cousins are just outside every summer when TheReunion takes place.

Here is BD's branch of the family - the grand-children and great-grandchildren of Emma Hoskins and R. G. Haile.

It's always fun to see who makes it to TheReunion because some of them come from very far away.

Everyone wears a name tag and most of the time puts the name of the sister they descend from.

The generations never seem to have any problem communicating.
 Looks like cousin D is pondering the quality of the ice tea - or maybe it's the lemonade.

For sure - nobody has any trouble finding something delicious to eat. It's much more a question of - "Can I stop myself before I pop?"

But no matter how much spoon bread or pound cake or fried chicken you put on your plate, it's the smiles and the hugs that make TheReunion so special.

It comes in early August but after it's over I always feel like summer is at an end. There's just the winding up stuff left to do. A few more days of swimming, a few more hot nights and then it will be September - the beginning of fall, the start of the new school year, my BIRTHDAY MONTH!

But all year long we'll look back with smiles and happy memories of  this 160 year old tradition - The Hoskins Reunion.