Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reunion Time

Lee Cousins Reunion 2007
Twentieth Anniversary
“Where’s the band?”
Another year has rolled by and here we are, planning to pack the van to go to Kentucky for another Lee Cuzin’s Reunion. It is Friday, June 22, and the reunion runs through Sunday noon or so. We wanted to arrive early enough to get beds near a bathroom, as the rooms and beds are on a “first come-first served” basis. No reservations are honored!
Judy’s plan was to get up early and get going. But---she and I both lay and looked at the ceiling, unable to sleep. I finally got up at around eight on Friday morning and began to gather the last of the things I needed to pack. After my shower and shave, I waited and waited and waited. Judy finally got in the van at 10 a.m. Really! Then we had to run by the vac shop to drop off some stuff. Then, she realized she had forgotten something, so we came back home. That has become a regular occurrence when we travel--that return stuff. Someone who was superstitious told me that it was bad luck to do that, but I have not found it so. I just say a prayer, asking God to protect us, and then drive sensibly.
We drove about 45 miles, then stopped at the Cracker Barrel. They fixed us some eggs, although we should have had lunch by then. The eggs tasted very good. Then we went on up through Kentucky. We saw the longest traffic tie-up I have ever seen. It might have been 15-18 miles long, cars and trucks of every description, southbound on I-75. They were stalled as a result of a fatal accident on the southbound side, 12 hours earlier. Two semi trucks hit head-on. It was a terrible tragedy. That highway is really dangerous; the traffic is heavy and moves very fast. I ran at a steady speed, about 70-73, and they passed me by like I was stopped.
The introduction to this reunion story is getting a bit “wordy;” sorry about that! Anyhow, we had to stop at Wal-Mart to get the rest of what Judy said we had to have. It took longer than it should have, but we finally got out of there about four. We still had about an hour to drive, maybe less. The traffic was heavy, and it did almost take an hour to get there from the Wal-Mart in Winchester, southwest of Flemingsburg, KY.
This last leg of the trip was much better than in the past. The road from Mt. Sterling to Flemingsburg is almost done. In another year, it will be done all the way through there. It does seem that there is always a stretch of road somewhere that is under major construction.
We arrived as cousins on the porch cheered. We were entered in the official list of attendees! Bob Lee was keeping tabs on who came. We also signed the guest register. I have said before, it seems the younger set grows and changes so fast that you hardly recognize them the next year. Dan Johnson’s Danielle grows three or four inches each year, as do some of the others. Of course, as time marches on, we lose some members of the family and gain new ones. I learned from Judy that two of the younger set are expecting babies next spring. As we talked on the porch on Sunday, I understood at least one wedding is in the making for next summer! There were a couple of new faces in the group this year that have become part of the family. Rodney brought his new wife and the children he has adopted. They are all very sweet. We were so glad to meet them, as well as Brent’s girl friend, Brandon’s girlfriend, and some of the companions of the other kids. But then, as the preacher last Sunday said, “If I start mentioning names, I might miss someone!” I will just give this excuse---I didn’t keep notes of their names, and I just can’t recall all of them from memory!
Friday night, we determined where our beds would be. I unpacked and set them up in a kitchen area in the basement of the lodge. That was great, since it was next to a bathroom. That is a must. I am so grateful we were not out of the lodge on the porch, or out in the grass in a tent. That would have been down right cold and uncomfortable! It was the first cool weekend they have had here in a while. The weather was actually very co-operative. As darkness gathered, so did everyone. We had a very good time visiting and playing a new game called “Corn Hole.” (The “bean” bags are filled with corn!)
It is a close relative to horseshoes. You take a two foot by four foot board, nail it to a frame of two by fours and put legs on it that are uneven, making the board slant at about a 15 degree angle. You place one board at one end, another at the other end of a standard space like a horseshoe court, and get two teams to compete. The rules are that the “bean-bags” must go in a gallon can-sized hole that is in the top half of the board for a full score of three points. If the bag lands on the board at all, that is one point. If the opposing player also lands a bag on the surface, you lose your point. The players each have four bags to toss. You can elect to play until one team scores either 11 or 21 points.
It was one of the more entertaining game sessions that I have been part of at the reunions. What we did was set up a tournament board, with teams. It was an elimination process to eventually crown a champion of the “Corn-Hole Board Game!” I asked several people who was the champ, but I never got a response. It had to involve Dan Johnson, because he was defeated, I think, so if you want an answer, call him up! The fellows played until around midnight Saturday night before finally declaring an end to it all! Vows were solemnly made to continue the battle next year!
Food! Yes, we must talk about that…there was plenty. I had some of the best coleslaw and mashed potatoes that I have ever tasted. They bring in Wal-Mart fried chicken. It was good and fresh, hot and tasty. I would have trouble saying what I liked the best, but the fruit salad was a close first. The ham was great, and then the desserts---oh, boy. Cheesecake to die for! Judy made a good chocolate cake, and others brought cakes and pies….calories galore!
There were plenty of drinks, but this year, I did limit myself to a total of three sodas during the whole three day's time, including the trip both ways. That is a record for me. Yes, I drank, but I mostly had water. That is because of my problem with sugar, but also I am watching the caffeine and carbonation. They all gang up on you and make you feel bad. I know water doesn’t do that!
I am not getting this in the proper order, I know, but only as the details come to my mind. It was late on Friday evening when Terry Hall’s grandson, Jason, came in and announced he had something to say or do. Next thing we knew, that six year old was singing a country song. I guess it was a Rascal Flatts' song, and although I did not know the song, he probably did not miss a word. The reason I am pretty confident about his ability is because the next song he sang was a Kerry Underwood number. I am certain he never missed a word in it. The kid is incredible.
One thing that he did that got all of us tickled was how he invented motions for each word or phrase of the songs. I laughed until I was wiping tears. Joyce Fiddler's little Jordan and her friend also sang with Jason. They sounded really good. The boy is headed for the stage!
The auction was a success, and as usual, there was fun in all of it. I personally pulled one on the auctioneer and the group. At least I think I did! I bought a surprise gift for a dollar or maybe two. It was an antique towel ring, a cast iron rooster’s head with a ring through it, to use in the kitchen. Judy said she had no use for it, and I said, “Fine, I’ll send it through again.” So, when the bid man came near me, I asked him to slip it back into the stuff and re-sell it. He did, and this time they took it out of the bag and showed what it was they were selling. They got twice for it what I had just paid. It went with something else that had just sold, a dinner bell rooster, and that person immediately liked it and bought it. Great fun. Judy bought an afghan that says, “20th Anniversary Lee Cousins Reunion 1987-2007.” It will be a precious thing to have and keep as a memento to this weekend. Thank goodness they didn’t sell Bill Lee’s underpants again!
As part of the auction, Dan Johnson brought some parts of one of the daily journals that Grandpa had written back in 1964. They divided the loose-leaf notebook into mixed packets, and gave each of the original Lee's their own packet. The idea was, you would read until your packet ran out, then needing the next page, you would be involved in calling your sister or brother to find who had the next page.
Bill Lee and I, along with Judy and his daughter, Pam, re-lived old memories of the early days of our lives. Bill and I both lived on primitive farms with no plumbing. Neither was there much money. We look at that, not as a bad beginning, but as a strengthening of our character. We know how to appreciate things now because we did not have everything handed to us as kids. He told, not boastingly, of working for 30 dollars a week to support the family when his daddy lay in the bed with a broken leg. He also told of how often the family did not have much on the table, but they did not starve. His mother would fix cornbread. They would have something, even if it was only cornbread and milk. Today, our kids would fuss and moan, but they didn’t. He said they sometimes had to take stale biscuits to school. They would eat them dipped in Karo syrup mixed with butter that Grandma had sent in a molasses can, because they couldn’t afford a “one-cent per student school lunch.” There were six of his brothers and sisters, and his parents had no cash coming in. It might as well have been six dollars a day, it would have made no difference---no money!
The kids all enjoyed the fishing. There were two or three good fishing poles that we all took turns using. There are large mouth bass in the lake, but they are not pan-size yet. The ones I saw were maybe five inches long at best, so they removed the hook from the fish, and sent them back to grow a bit more! My grandson, Clayton, caught his first fish at the reunion. He was so excited, he nearly had tears in his eyes. He wanted no part of un-hooking the fish, though. I helped several of the kids enjoy the fishing.
Another favorite of the kids is roasting marshmallows. I had a brand-new roasting fork from Wal-Mart that I let them take turns using. One of the boys ate so many he about got sick! But that is what summer time fun is all about, you know? The fire felt very good both nights and the smoke smelled pretty good until it saturated my clothes. Then I smelled like an old chimney! Judy said I needed to change my clothes!
Saturday was a full day, and so much happened. The kids swam and used the paddleboats and had a blast. Thank the Lord, no one got hurt, and there was a very good spirit of co-operation about everything. I felt that everyone had a good time.
Sunday we got up, had breakfast, and then the crowd began to thin out. The families that had the most distance to go packed up and left, but several stayed around. About 10 a.m. we had a short devotional and prayer. Bill Lee asked me to have something, but I was so unprepared that I almost refused. Then I thought of what Grandpa had preached, and what I had recently written about that. So I agreed to do what I could on short notice.
Grandpa used Gideon and his band of 300 men as an illustration of what God can do with a small amount of anything. Take what you have, begin where you are, and do the best you can. I encouraged the group to examine their lives, and take their talents and abilities and go out for God. I did the best I could with no notice and nothing to use for material. I hope it was okay. Bill had some comments and prayer, and then we ate lunch. By this time more had packed and were leaving, saying their goodbyes and heading back home.
Home for many of the group is Indiana, but some come in from Ohio, and, of course, we come from TN. Sheila and her family come from Florida, and Tiffany and her baby drove in from North Carolina, I believe. The family is scattered, to say the least.
We finally left the lodge at 2 p.m. As I listened to the radio, I found out we would be driving into some real heavy rain and hail. It was not too long before it hit us with a vengeance. I have not driven in such a heavy downpour of rain for years. I could not see more than two car lengths, and we were obligated to slow to 30 m.p.h. We drove in rain on and off for more than half of the return trip, but still made it home in about four hours.
The reunion was a very enjoyable time for us. We look forward to the time next year when we again see the “Lee Cuzins!”

Oh, yes…"Where’s the band, Dan?” We all gently razzed Dan Johnson about the Bluegrass band that he promised to provide. They were friends of his that had planned to come down and play for us on Saturday. At the last minute, they called and said there had been a death in the family and they cancelled. The question we asked Dan was ….of course, “Where’s the band?”

Lloyd D. Lance
June 26. 2007
©2007 USA all rights reservedA Backward gLance Book 11

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