It was great to have my son home a few days from college. We met up with him in my home town of New Freedom, PA. He was over visiting with his cousins, but came back to my parents’ house to throw the Frisbee with me, his cousin, and his sister in my parents’ back yard. Lots of room, but we did have to call out the occasional warning to look out for the volleyball poles. He had chatted the day before with his grandfather while catching a ride from the bus station in Harrisburg, PA. When he saw me he shared, “Pop Pop was telling me about his time at the McDonough School, you need to record that story?”
This reminded me of course to check and see if my trusty digital voice recorder was in my pocket. Recording Personal and Family Histories is now pretty well expected whenever I see my parents. Sure enough on Friday at lunch I did have a chance to capture a few stories from my Dad and got a copy of the small booklet that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Charles G. Summers, Jr. – family vegetable canning business going back five generations.
I recorded about 30 minutes of stories with my Mom. I found out about the older girl that lived with her family for a few years and who taught her to dance. Perhaps more important I recorded new material about my Mom and mice. There was much more to the history than I knew before with several new wrinkles, but that’s a different blog.
We gathered on Thanksgiving afternoon at my brother’s house, my Mom made a ham, my sister-in-law made a turkey, my kids learned they liked creamed corn casserole, this after my Mom worried much of the afternoon about whether she had messed up the recipe, since she was “distracted” by everyone chatting and sharing stories in the kitchen while she was trying to cook. I also thought it was delicious.
There were 14 of us for Thanksgiving Dinner; we prepared a cheese tray for nibbling while we chatting in the kitchen for the hour and half leading up to dinner. We also had to bring the Wurzelbrot Bread from the Swiss Bakery near our home and our special Cranberry Salsa.
There were mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, and a rice based stuffing. I was invited to help make the gravy, I am not sure how I earned the privilege, though I vague remember making gravy at an earlier multigenerational Thanksgiving gathering. It came out well, so I guess their trust was justified.
My Dad said a Thanksgiving blessing then we all took our plates and circle to buffet spread and sat down to eat. The six “kids” at their table in the kitchen and the older adults in the dining room. The flavors and textures were delicious, but each of us realized about a third of the way through our plate that we had selected just a bit too much. Perhaps it was the cheese, perhaps the plates were a bit large, or perhaps our eyes – as usual on Thanksgiving Day – were just a bit larger than our stomachs.
Conversation was great; after we were done we all chipped in to help clean up the mounds of dishes and pots and pans – many hands made light work. We had a brief pause for conversation – yes I admit my eyes might have closed a few times.
My brother’s family are rabid Baltimore Ravens fans – so much of the rest of evening was spent watching another epic Football battle between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, this made even more interesting since my son goes to college in Pittsburgh and now has divided loyalties between the Ravens and Pittsburgh. The game was still in contention until the last minute when Pittsburgh could not complete the pass for the two point conversion.
The next morning my wife and I went for our usual long walk through the farms, woods, and then crossed the Mason Dixon Line to stroll up through the town on the Rail Trail. We heard the train whistle in the distance for the new “Steam Into History” passenger train. I paused briefly to take a few pictures of the Murals on the former Charles G. Summers, Jr. Vegetable Canning Business (our family business for 119 years).
We returned home later in the day for a few more days filled with baking cookies, a quick visit for my son to “Bob’s Barber Shop” to see what they could do with 3 months of college grown hair, seeing a movie with cousins on the other side of the family, my daughter finished up a college application. My son had his 10 hours of board games with friends, and then it was a few hours of sleep. He and I got up at 5:30 so he could catch the bus back to college, another half dozen activities after my son left – an hour nap – helping set up for the Advent Fun Shop at our church, baking more cookies, and a bit of Personal History interviewing and Thanksgiving Weekend came to a close. A busy, family and fun filled four days of Thanksgiving.