Under the pines: Family reunions – #atozchallenge

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Under the pines: Family reunions. Twenty-first of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck — I’m in the home stretch!

If I had to pick a spot at Whispering Chimneys where my genealogy journey began, it would have to be under the pines.

That was the only shady location large enough to accommodate a picnic table and benches. So under the pines is where my parents and grandparents entertained relatives in the summer — and where I first met many of my extended family members.

Day to day, there might be a car parked under the pines to keep it cool. And sometimes I sat under there to read. But this spot really livened up when family came calling — mainly my maternal grandparents’ siblings and their families from Mom’s Gloversville, N.Y., home town.

My mom’s family from Gloversville

My grandmother’s younger brother — Uncle Andy Stoutner — would be there with his wife and two daughters. And her younger sister — Aunt Margaret (Stoutner) Rothbell, a widow — would attend with her daughter.

A family picnic under the pines at Whispering Chimneys. I got to know my maternal extended family at these summertime family reunions. Photo: Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence

Gramps would invite his only brother — Uncle Joe Laurence — and his wife and two daughters. And before she moved to California in 1956, Mom’s younger sister — Aunt Rita Laurence — would join us, too.

On the farm, we had no relatives living close by — except maybe Aunt Rita who had an apartment for a while in Albany. So it was through these summer reunions that I got to know some of my mom’s family and hear about the old days when they all lived in Gloversville together.

North Country visits to my paternal relatives

My dad’s Charboneau family — his parents, four brothers and their families — lived further away in New York’s North Country. So we usually went to visit them on car trips — making a flurry of stops at Holland Patent, Sequoit, Boonville or at the Adirondack lakeside camps they all repaired to in the summer.

In this way — either under the pines at the farm or on summer road trips — the idea of a larger family began to take root during my childhood. Who knew that three decades would pass before this early awareness would finally grow into a pursuit of my family history?

Yet most genealogists will tell you that’s often the way the process works — that the time for memory and reflection usually arrives at midlife after the tasks of younger years are completed.

That’s the way it was for me — and I’m grateful that when I finally decided to look back and begin researching my family, my childhood memories from under the pines were still there to draw on.

Up next – Vaccination: A doctor’s office drama. Please stop back!

 © 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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8 thoughts on “Under the pines: Family reunions – #atozchallenge”

  1. I have never had a family reunion. Odd. I suppose I should instigate it, but I don’t. And neither does anyone else. I wonder what that means.

    1. They’re fun. You should give it a try. Great way to meet the extended relatives who my a just have photos and details about your common ancestors!

  2. I have memories of family reunions under the trees. I hope to start recording some of the stories before they are lost. Your stories are encouraging me to just start.

    1. My advice is don’t wait! Get those stories down while they are fresh — and while your relatives are still around to tell them. Since you are already blogging, you have experience unrolling stories one post at a time. Family stories work the same way, and are a wonderful legacy for future generations.

  3. Hmmmm. The genealogists have a point. I suppose we do start looking at our roots after we’ve done growing.
    I don’t have any such pictures with big family gatherings, except perhaps from my sister’s wedding. That looks like a good picnic spread.
    Happy AtoZing, Molly!
    Chicky @ http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com

    1. Ask around…you might be surprised to find others in your family with photos. I was fortunate that my father, my Aunt Rita (Mom’s sister) and my maternal grandmother were all avid photographers, so they left quite a photo legacy. But your sister’s wedding is a good start!

    1. Yes, those pine trees were the best. Taller than our house with long branches (which you can just see in the photo). And the pine fragrance was wonderful!

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