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Family Reunion Forum

Re: African American Homecoming Celebration

I grew up in a small, rural community (current pop. 194 per highway sign), where beginning in 1904 there was an annual picnic hosted by the Masonic Lodge. It was held on Aug 2, unless that was a Sunday, and ultimately was known as "The 2nd of August" picnic. It was the highlight of our summer, with barbecue, baseball, fried fish, soda, ice cream, for sale. Since there are so many families with connections in neighboring communities, those people often attended "our" picnic too, if only to follow their baseball team.

Once people moved away, they began to time their visits home for "the picnic." That in turn led more people to return at that time since, "that's when you get to see everybody." Eventually the picnic was moved to the 1st Saturday in August.

Sometime after I moved away (1961), the church that I attended there began to have a Sunday "Homecoming" service that weekend.

Since "that's when everybody comes home," family reunions grew up around that weekend, the weekend before and the one after. Then a bi-annual reunion of the defunct Black high school began for the same weekend, including the day of the picnic itself, started by people who lived "in town" rather than in our community, and who I felt did not appreciate "our" picnic and the effect the school reunion would have on attendance at the picnic. {Children from all of the communities surrounding the town had attended that high school.}

Also, many people who came for a family reunion could not attend both it and "the picnic," because it would mean extending their stay over two weekends.

The school and family reunions are still going, the church Homecoming is still going, but unfortunately, "The Picnic" is in its death throes if not gone altogether, (hardly even a shadow of itself last year) and I regret that. I'm thankful that it lasted for 100+ years.

I rebelled against the school reunion for a few years, just on g.p., attending for the first time in 2004. Now that I have few close relatives there, I time my returns "back home" for the even-numbered years where there is (1) what's left of the annual picnic (2) annual Church Homecoming (3) High School reunion (4) a bi-annual Family Reunion held by distant relatives whose unknown relationship to me was one reason I really got involved in genealogy. And I _did_ learn what that relationship is.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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