Monday, August 23, 2010

A Garst Reunion

Last week my sister, Mary, and her cousin, Robert pulled off the first “Garst” reunion of our segment of the large Garst family in quite some time. Only one “Garst” sister, Nancy, survives and one Garst sister-in-law, Ruth. Both were there and put some of us to shame with their vitality and cheer. One is over eighty and the other is ninety plus!

It was also a second Kinzie reunion within the year. All of the living brothers and most of their spouses were there. All of Mary’s children and one new grand-daughter, Penelope graced us with their presence.It’s hard for me to imagine Mary and Malcolm being grandparents, but they are.

Kinzies and Garsts both have functioning musicians. No one had suggested bringing instruments and joining forces to make music. My brother, Mike, a musician who plays anything with strings, brass, or flute and can sing (he’s a professional country/western entertainer) quickly called Andy,another fine picker, composer,and singer on the Garst side ( our cousin ) and discovered that, yes, he planned to bring a guitar.

Mike helped get it all together. We found a working keyboard at the location and for about an hour before the meal Andy’s wife, Terry, a fine keyboardist, Andy, Mike and I had the time of our lives discovering music we had in common. Had always wanted to “jam” with Andy and his wife, but we see each other so infrequently it just had not happened....we didn’t know each other musically. Mike brought a case of harmonicas and we were treated to interesting “blues” licks on some of the pieces. Now there is something to build on if the opportunity presents itself again. Some of the local citizens at “the Home” were curious who the band was and wondered if they could be persuaded to return.

The catered meal provided by the Bridgewater Home staff was much better than I had imagined. The room was large and bright and the food was hot and served buffet style. Lib and I got around to as many cousins and relatives as we could, but were able to have extended conversations with only a few. Lib interacts with one set and I another. That way we get to exchange twice the information. I learned that a cousin, Elaine, on the Garst side lived in Williamsburg and sang in a concertizing chorus there. We had an interesting discussion about grant writing.

Some of our cousins we see at the “Sounds of the Mountain” folk tale event sponsored by Camp Bethel in Fincastle, VA. It was good to reconnect with them. One family, Jeff and Dorothy are kin to us from both sides, Dorothy’s father, Hubert, was a cousin of mine on the Garst side and Dorothy’s mother, Evelyn is my wife’s sister. Dorothy was there with her husband Jeff.

Don’t know if we’ll ever get this crowd together in my lifetime. It sure blessed us to do it even once. Thank you Mary and Robert again for making it happen! The pictures were taken by Robert Trout.

P.S. If anyone who was there has pictures to share I’d love to post a few on this blog. Get in touch with Mary for my email address.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Neighborhood Watch

We were privileged to be the host family for our annual Neighborhood Watch get together from 6:30 to 8:30 last evening. Our committee chairwoman, Nancy Berger, did a great job of organizing it.

Nancy was on our carport by 6:00. She put up colorful balloons and a sign advertizing the meeting. She and her helpers also brought tables, cool drinks, and some finger foods. By 6:30 people began to arrive and we had a great time reacquainting ourselves with each other. We do have a nice neighborhood , but except for the couple beside us we have mostly “waving” relationships with the others. At least we’re beginning to get to know Nancy and her husband a bit better. Not sure how much safer it makes us, but each time we meet we get the handout that helps us to be more effective in reporting activities of people that may be suspect.

The EMS and police for our area also visited briefly. It was quite exciting to see the big yellow fire truck come around the corner, go up the street, turn around and then stop near where we were congregated. Their crews came out and introduced themselves to us as did our Chesterfield police. Any activity that promotes people getting to know each other in our neighborhoods has got to be good. We have churches (sometimes across town), clubs, and interest groupings, but they’re not neighbors. We need to cultivate the friendship of those who live right beside us. That’s what
neighbors are for.