Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mom's Old House; Family Reunion

Our 2012 road trip has been going really great.  We’ve stopped in Cedar City, Iowa and visited the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.  Beautiful grounds and awesome exhibits.  I never knew much about that president so the experience was wonderful.  Our destination was Wisconsin.

My husband and I arrived the day before the family reunion.  We met with some of my mother’s cousins and their families for dinner.  This was a first for my husband.  He’s heard me talk of these relatives throughout the years.

After dinner, we followed in our car, my mother’s cousins Mildred, her sister Myrtle, Mildred’s son Roger and his wife Arlene.  They showed us the house my grandparents once own; the very house where my mother, her sister and brother grew up.  Years and years ago my mother showed my sister, brother and I her old house and I’ve seen it several times after that.  I just never knew the address or how to get back to it.

Top right window, Mom's bedroom

After we got to the address, I got out of our car to take a photo of the house.  As I was going around the side, a man who lived there was by the garage.  I was a little embarrassed so walked back to the car.  One of the cousins got out of her car, took me back to the man and explained my mother use to live there and I wanted to take pictures of the house.  He was very nice and said it was OK.  He explained his great-grandfather once owned it.  He still had the original abstracts of the house; did we want to see it?  Wow, this was great!  He brought out the paperwork and there was the information on the house, how much my grandfather paid and what his mortgage was.  They bought the house in 1924; sold it in 1944 to the current owner’s great-grandfather.  It was so surreal.  I tried to take a photo of the paperwork but since the sun was going down, it wasn’t working out very well.  He then offered to scan the pages for me.  Wow, what a guy!  While he was inside, his lovely wife and two children came and talked to us.  Very nice family.  I now have copies of the original abstract of my grandparent’s first home.

The next day was bright and sunny.  We were anticipating hot and humid, but were really surprised by the temperature that day, only in the 80s.  We stopped at the first table and put on some name tags.  Since I was a collateral relative I used my maiden name; both my mother’s parent’s surnames and my married surname: Gayle Ficarra Bartunek Ramminger Wolcott.  Just trying to cover all the bases.  Got quite a few laughs.

Below the food counter a cousin hung a very long family wall chart.  On the tables were photo albums, descendant reports, and a photo collage.  I knew I had some gaps, missing children and information in my research, so before coming to the reunion I printed out my own wall chart.  This gave me the opportunity to sit down face-to-face and get the information straight from the source.  Everyone I approached was open, friendly and gave me their names, birth dates and that of their children.  Throughout the afternoon I used my portable mobile scanner and scanned as many pictures as I could from the photo albums.

Many of the cousins came up and asked me if I was getting the family information I needed.  Boy was I ever!  It was the best reunion I’d ever been to.  Mom would have loved it!

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