I want to start out this post with a quote from my daughter. One that can be shared with others. In 2000 we had a Blandford family reunion. At one time we had one every year, but as we grew up and moved away, they just seemed to stop. We started meeting each other at the funeral home instead. We would reminisce about how things used to be. How it would be nice to have another reunion. Then one day someone decided we should make it happen. Gina decided to put together a cookbook with favorite family recipes. The dedication began thus:
“What makes a family? There are many, many definitions these days. It is a question I have pondered at great length over the years as we began to form our own small family. What binds us together? Is it blood, religion, love, bar-b-que? I am sure we would each have our own ideas on the topic.
For me, a family is brought together by love and common experience. For many of us some of the greatest moments of sharing have come with a meal or perhaps a bowl of ice cream served with hot, buttered biscuits…..Memories and meals — these are the ties that bind.”
The photo is of Papa and Grandmother Blandford, and some aunts, uncles and cousins at a typical Sunday dinner. I really can’t identify anyone except Papa, at the head of the table, and Grandmother, partially hidden by the little girl. The two young men on the right are definitely two of my uncles, but they all had that black hair and in this photo look so much alike. The child could be any one of us. We also mostly looked alike back then.
Our play was mostly made up things. We had a radio, and some favorite radio shows, but no TV. We also had a telephone with a rotary dial. Remember those? Today’s kids wouldn’t know how to use one. We were also on a 4 party line, which meant we had our own kind of ring. That way, we knew which call was for us, and which call was for the other 3 people on our line. One party didn’t care. She loved to eavesdrop on all conversations. I can remember as a teenager, getting calls from friends. First thing after saying “hello” was “hang up Miss Lottie”. Sometimes she did. Mostly she didn’t.
We had a weeping willow tree in the back yard. We usually broke our toys from constant usage before summer, so when we built “roads” in the dirt under the willow tree, a half brick was a car, while a whole brick was a truck. That was real, home-made fun. We also played “store”. Mom always smashed the cans in when she used them so we wouldn’t cut ourselves on the edges, but we would take them anyway. We also used the empty baby food jars. They were the merchandise. Tony always got to be the store keeper, since he was the oldest. Still is, for that matter. The rest of us were the customers. Can’t remember what we used for money, but it was something we found. Probably cut up newspaper or catalogs.
Now, regarding Tony, and taking this a little farther back, I have always looked up to him. Well, he’s six and a half feet tall, so naturally I HAVE to look up if I want to see his face. At five and a half feet, I’m the shortest of the seven of us.That’s Tony, the trouble maker. The big brother I depended on to take care of me when I was young. Let me try to list a few of the ways he took care of me. He led me down the street one day and got us both lost. He fed me a mud pie. Told me it was chocolate. He cut my hair under a street light. He talked me into playing “Hansel and Gretel” using mom’s sugar ration during WWII. When we moved to the country he showed me how the blocks our house was built from wouldn’t burn. In a barn my uncle owned. Full of straw. The block survived. We survived. The barn? Total loss. Last memory of that one? My uncle, standing there the next day shaking his head. Thankfully, I don’t remember the punishment. Keep hoping Tony got it all. He’s grown out of all of that now. I’m forever grateful for that.
Thanksgiving dinner at mom’s house a few years ago. Mom’s at the head of the table now, since we lost dad in 1992. The entire family isn’t there any more, because of distance and driving conditions at that time of year, but we always remember the missing members. They are usually celebrating at their own homes, or the ones who live close to each other sometimes get together. Larry, Marcia and Mark made it for this Thanksgiving. That was a really good thing. Marie and Sam (Hayman) joined us. Tony’s there, so Nancy must have taken the pic. And the gray back of the head is Ray. Great memory, even if I can’t really remember it.