With some trepidation I awoke this past Sunday morning where I was staying at my brother's home in East Brandywine Township (Downingtown) to cloudy skies. Oh no, I guaranteed sunny skies for the Tipton Family Reunion which was to take place at noon. I signed on to my brother's computer and checked the weather forecast and was much relieved to find that the skies were clear later in the morning.
After my breakfast (a bowl of Corn Chex with a banana) I headed out to the East Brandywine Community Park to get the tables ready for the reunion which was to begin at 12 noon.
As I was putting on the many colored light tablecloths (actually very thin plastic) that I had purchased at Walmart, the wind picked up. The wind has always been a problem at this park. The East Brandywine Community Park is a beautiful park but it is located on high flat land which was a crop field of a former field. I knew I would have trouble with these tablecloths. Even with the weights on the tablecloths , the wind was still blowing the tablecloths off the tables.
I made an executive decision and got in my car and made an emergency run to Wegmans. I had a couple of more expensive table cloths from Wegmans and they were holding their own with the wind.
By the time I got back to the park with my new tablecloths, cousin Dick Tipton and his wife Linda had arrived. Dick and Linda were going to help me with the food. SHOWTIME!
While putting on the new tablecloths my cell phone rang. On the other end was Cousin Darlene Ford. She couldn't find the park. There are three pavilions at the East Brandywine Park. I told her it was the last one. In a few minutes Darlene pulled in the lot. Now we were ready to go. Darlene, Dick and Linda were my lifesavers. A few minutes later Darlene's sister Rita Buxbaum arrived to lend a helping hand.
We had our sign in book at the table at the entrance to the pavilion. Blank name tags were ready for marking to identify cousins. Ready to go!
The first official arrivals were Cousin Bob Tipton and his wife Marie and their daughter Sharon. They had come all the way up from Marietta, Georgia.
We all greeted Cousin Bob with a warm hug. I don't know how many years it has been since we've seen Bob but it has been too long. It seems that in our adult years the only time we see our cousins are at funerals. This is one of the reasons I decided to restart the family reunions, to bring the family back together again.
Back in 1993 Dude's girls (my uncle Luther Raymond Tipton) decided to have a family reunion for the remaining surviving Tipton brothers. Dude's girls are: Donna, Rita, Darlene and Joy. This reunion was held at the Westwood Fire Company outside of Coatesville, PA.
In 1994 I held the next Tipton Family reunion at the same location. My goal was to gather information for my genealogy research of the Tipton family. I also wanted to take pictures but I wasn't able to do too much because I was too busy cooking hamburgers. Cousin Dick Tipton saw my dilemma and rescued me from my Hamburger Stress.
I held the next Tipton Family reunion in October of 1997 at the present location, the East Brandywine Community park. I thought at that time we were on way to more frequent family reunions but life interfered. The next thing I knew, thirteen years had passed and our family had not had a family reunion.
Last year Cousin Dick Tipton asked me when we were having another family reunion. Dick question got me to thinking that it's been too long since we had a family reunion. I told him I would coordinate and make arrangements for the family reunion.
All of the eleven Tipton brothers have since passed on since the last reunion in 1997. Also several of the thirty-six cousins have passed on and the surviving cousins weren't getting any younger. So I decided, that as long as I can, I will hold annual family reunions.
My brother John called from his home in Greenville, South Carolina yesterday to ask me how the reunion went He was concerned that it wouldn't be a success and I would be disappointed. I was very glad to tell him that the reunion was a wonderful success! Not every one could make it to the reunion but for those who did, we all had a wonderful time. After many years, the Tipton cousins were reunited again. There were many hugs and warm greetings of long absent cousins.
Most of the Tipton cousins now have adult children and many of them have children who are entering into their teen years. It was a special treat for me to meet my first cousins once and twice removed for the first time. Many of them I have been in contact with on Facebook but meeting them in person was special. My only regret was that I didn't have enough time to socialize and get to know them better.
I also had a friend roaming around to take pictures but I still didn't have enough pictures. Even with all the help that cousins Darlene, Rita, Dick and Linda Tipton were providing I was still running around writing name tags and making sure those tablecloths weren't blowing in the wind.
Even though things could have ran more smoothly yesterday, the reunion was a great success. The weather was beautiful, the food delicious, and being with family was wonderful.
This may be the digital age with the dominance of social networks like My Space and Facebook but there is nothing like an old fashioned family reunion.
Thank you to everyone for contributing to making the reunion such a success.
Mark your calendars because the next family reunion is planned for October of 2011!