Family reunions, part 2
To continue on the theme of family reunions, let me write a bit about recollections of my father’s side, the Wolfe family reunion.
They hold their reunion the first Sunday in October at the Concord Church in Athens County located on a wooded knoll cleared for a cemetery and a small brick church that my great-grandfather Joseph Wolfe helped build in 1898. The church and the fall colors were stunning. Almost matching in color and design was the harvest table full of home-fried and fresh chicken — no Colonel or Chick-fil-A — signature dishes of cold slaw, potato salad, deviled eggs, platters of sliced red tomatoes, hams, potatoes au gratin and pots of chicken and noodles. The desserts were equally abundant and beautiful. My mother’s pies and burnt sugar cake, Wanetta’s oatmeal cake, Aunt Mildred’s four day old banana layered cake; it took her that long to assemble and I never ate it because I knew it took that long! There were always platters of cookies and bowls of fruit, mainly apples. Sometimes my father would bring a big bag of Spanish peanuts.
Before the prayer and the buffet, the young boys mostly — some girls would join in, too — threw a football and though it was tag, most of the boys’ shirts were out and their pants muddy. The only facilities were two two-headers. The boys went through the afternoon dirty.
After the gorging and some dozing and listening to a ball game crackling from an old Dodge sedan radio whose door was thrown open so everyone could hear, an old timer would call to gather on the front steps of the church for the annual photo and then for the meeting inside. The president that year would ask for records — births, deaths, marriages, divorces (though the latter were offered up quietly and with embarrassment). The reading of the minutes from last year’s reunion with all its additions and corrections which to a kid was just the sound of adults talking in their deeper voices, rising and falling rhythmically, a kind of cadence perhaps only country people have, punctuated with laughter like the man who said if he had known he would live this long, he would have taken better care of himself.
Music was central. A cousin who could sing and play the piano, a kid good on the guitar plucked away; another blew on his newly acquired clarinet. An adult might recite a poem. Every family has one and the Wolfes were no exception. A fellow would stand up and make squirrel sounds. We kids thought he was hilarious; the others tolerated and listened respectfully. The whole affair ended with “Rock of Ages.” Since 1909 these folks have met, eaten together, did some singing and praying and went home filled up with a security that family would always be there and they would meet again at “The little church in the wildwood.”
Sylvia Zimmerman is the owner of Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese in Richwood. She holds two graduate degrees and, when not working on her farm or pursuing her interest in sustainable agriculture, writes her own blog.
Upcoming class: Columnist and farmer Sylvia Zimmerman will teach a four-session course “Meet the Farmer” from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays Aug. 21, 28 and Sept. 4 and 11 at Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road, Delaware. Coffee and pastries will be offered. Zimmerman will offer a sweeping introduction of the history and philosophy of farming followed by representatives from all profiles of farmers from the small market gardener, the urban farmer, a mid-sized livestock and/or grain farmer and a confinement livestock farmer. There will also be an opportunity to visit an equipment barn and learn what machinery does and why, and then possibly drive a tractor with great duelie tires, a real Tonka toy. Call SEC to register, 740–363-2548.