Saturday, May 29, 2010

Resentment

Me, the way I saw myself after my father was done with me

When I first began blogging in 2005 my posts were very negative.  Basically, I complained just about
everything. I called my blog "Loose Cannon" after a name that was given to me when I worked at Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia on a research project.  I was referred as a "loose cannon" because I tended to tell the truth and ignore the niceties.  It didn't take me too long to find out that I didn't have too many friends with this attitude at work.  When I wrote my blog of complaints the only responses I got were from people who were even darker than I was.  Thus, I decided to write an upbeat, positive blog.  For the most part I have been successful but sometimes I do find it very difficult to hold back.  Today I will try to explain the constant, underlying bitterness I continue to have in my personality.  A bitterness that I have been somewhat successful in suppressing most of my life.  But sometimes this bitterness bubbles to the surface.  Today is one of those days.

An angry, bitter old man - something I hope I don't turn into


I grew up in the Fifties in the small town of 5,000 people located 37 miles west of Philadelphia, PA.  It was my fortune (or misfortune, it all depends on your outlook) to be born gay.  Yes, I was "born gay."  At no point did I select a life of discrimination, rejection, mockery, and discounting.  I've never regretted being born gay.  Too me it has always seemed perfectly natural for me to be gay.  The only thing I thought was wrong was the way some people looked at or treated gay people. The problem always seemed to be their problem, not mine.

Downingtown, PA located in the Brandywine Creek valley in Chester County. PA



I was also born very poor.  Our family was one step above abject poverty.  We weren't even "lower middle class."  Some would call us poor white trash but I'm too polite to say that.  Of course I realize that many families in the Fifties were poor like our family.  I don't remember our poorness being a big problem at that time but I was aware that our family didn't have what some of my schoolmates' families had.  I do remember not having enough to eat but we weren't starving either.

Me, my brothers and some neighborhood kids on the stoop at 120 Washington Avenue, Downingtown, PA - our "front yard"


I never received an allowance like many of my schoolmates.  If I wanted money I had to work.  I did not resent working, it was just a fact if life.  My earliest job was running errands to the local grocery store for my relatives who lived in the same apartment building on Washington Avenue that we lived in.  Occasionally I ran errands for the neighbors too.  If I wanted money, I earned it.  Nothing was given.

In third grade I got a job as a paper boy. I delivered the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin as well as some local papers.  I delivered the papers every day after work and on Sunday morning.  I loved that job.  I was my own businessman.  I had my bike (a Flyer), my newspaper back which I would fill with 60 or so copies of the Bulletin (and about 12 copies of the local paper) and I would be off after school to deliver papers to my customers.  Early on I discovered customer service.  I put all the newspapers I delivered in between the storm door and main door of my customers or under their mat.  I never bundled up the paper and threw it from my bicycle.  No one told me to do this, I just thought it was the right thing to do.  I immediately received positive feedback from most of my customers.  They appreciated the fact that they didn't have to look for their newspapers on a wet lawn or under a bush, or even worse, out in the road.  Several of my customers showed their appreciation by giving me generous tips when I made my weekly stop for collection at their front door (my first direct customer contact.)

I delivered papers until I was in ninth grade, at which time I figured I was too old to be riding a bike (a silting thought now that I look back upon it.)  For several years when I was a paperboy, I also had other jobs.  I cleaned offices (at .55 cents an hour) and I had a weekend job at the local farmers' market in a butcher shop (at $12 a night.)  In between I cut grass for several customers.  In other words, I always worked.  Any money I had I earned.  Nothing was given to me.

Billy, PeeWee, Me, Chubby and my brother Isaac at 120 Washington Avenue summertime 1953


When I entered 9th grade it was time to choose our high school course to prepare us for our lifetime career.  Most of my friends were taking the college preparatory course which was the academic course.  I wanted to take the academic course too but I was told by my Mother that she and my father would not be paying for my college.  She suggested that I take typing and learn skills that would get me a job right out of high school.  Of course I was very disappointed because I would not be spending my formative high school years with my friends but I accepted this fact just the way I accepted the fact that I would always have got work for my money.  There was no question of me trying to get a scholarship because although my grades were good (mostly B's and a few A's and a scattering of C's), I didn't possess enough self-confidence at that time to embark on that journey.

Me with the Vances - I'm about to go off on my summer "vacation" at the Vance farm 1954

I was envious of my friends whose parents took it for granted that, of course, they would send them to college.  These are the same parents who regularly took their children on vacations.  They provided their children with allowances and opened doors for them.  Now of course I realize that many of my contemporaries were in the same situation as I was and more than a few had it worse.  But I am writing from my own experience and how my resentment over some things that parents take for granted has come to build over the years and has never left me.

As I said earlier, I have been mostly successful in suppressing my resentment of Those That Have but sometimes it comes bubbling to the surface.

Thank goodness I never had the Helicopter Parents.  I was on my own.  I had a father who was disengaged and not really interested in what his three sons did.  In fact my most remembered quote from him is "I have the there dumbest kids ever!" and the sweeping look of total disgust that would accompany that statement.  Usually that statement was punctuated by a box on the ears which we learned not to duck.  My brothers laugh about it now but when you're brought up like that, you tend to believe what your father tells you.  I know I did.  I thought I was a dumb, big nosed, stupid, sissy for most of my childhood and teenage years.  My father's favorite nickname for me was "Beak" (as in a big nosed bird.)  It wasn't until I graduated from high school and joined the Army (after having almost lost my life to a staph infection from an operation that I had to have before I could join the Army) that I realized that I wasn't the stupidest, ugliest, and clumsiest kid in Downingtown.  In fact, I wasn't all that bad looking (at the right angle)  and even half way smart some of the time.  However, that lingering sense of lack of self-worth has and always will be in my personality.  And added to that was the extra burden of being a homosexual, which at that time was against the law.  There was always that cloud hanging over my head of being exposed as one of those dirty perverts who was the lowest form of animal life.

Me with Sam (our dog) and my brother Isaac at the Old Swimming Hole 1953

I will write more on this subject in future blog postings but I felt the need to get some of this information out there now.  What brought it up is the usual two things.  The lament of some parents in this tough economic time that they "HAVE to send their kids to college", with the suggestion that the government somehow should help them "send their kids to college."  Hey, my parents didn't send me to college.  I went to college only after donating three years of my time in the Army and the going to night school three night a week for four years.  I worked at the bank in center city Philadelphia during the day (at Broad and Chestnut Streets) then walked up  Broad Street to Broad and Spruce to Peirce Junior College for classes that started at 6 pm and ended at 9 pm.  For three years I had plenty of long days.  There was no time for me at the local Whiffenpoof watering hole to kick back and "have a few" with my friends.

Me at my banking days - the bags under my eyes are from working all day and going to school at night


One thing that really rankled my resentment growing up as a barefoot kid in the poor white section of a small town, was the summer camp nearby where the city of Philadelphia used to ship the fortunate "poor" kids of Philadelphia so they could spend six weeks of summer fun camping and swimming at the swimming pool at the camp in Downingtown.  One summer my brothers and I snuck to the cyclone fence surrounding the camp and looked in envy at the swimming pool.  Oh how we would have liked top taken a dip in those cool waters on a hot summer day.  But it was not to be.  That pool was reserved for the "poor, underprivileged" of Philadelphia.  The first time in my life I ever stepped into a swimming pool was when I was in the Army.  I was 20 years old.   It's not that my brothers and I never went swimming.  Sometimes our father would treat us to a run at the swimming hole on Boot Road if we weeded our assigned eight rows of corn.  Our father loved to garden but he didn't like to weed.  That's what he had three sons for.  No complaints about the swimming hole.  My brothers and I (and the family dog Sam) had a wonderful time there the few times we were given this "treat" which was following by a visit to the Tastee Freeze in Thorndale.  We loved that treat.  Sometimes, when Pop was really feeling good, and after we picked a bunch of wild raspberries, he would take us to a gas station on Rt. 322 which served ice cream.  I would get a double scoop of black raspberry ice cream.  It just didn't get any better than that on a hot, humid, August summer night in Downingtown, PA. When we played in the summertime we played at the railroad tracks behind our apartment on 120 Washington Avenue.  Not for us summer camp and all those activities.  Thus, every summer when the "poor kids" from Philadelphia were bussed in, that familiar feeling of resentment rose up in me.

Me, and my brothers and the family dog "Sam" at the old swimming hole on Boot Road, PA


I'm glad I was brought up the way I was brought up.  Even though my father didn't provide any encouragement for me or my brothers, I think that circumstance made my brothers and I stronger.  Probably much of that credit has to go to my Mother who, while never providing the hugs (she never was a "huggy" person), always protected us and provided guidance for her three boys which has done us well to this day.  However, she did make a remark some years ago which took me aback.  She said to me "You know one thing I'm really proud of my boys?"  I said "What's that Mom?"  She said "I'm glad none of you ever ended up in prison."  Well, that was a jaw opener.   Sometimes you think you know your Mom and you would assume she knows you.  No Mom, none of us ever ended up in prison nor would we ever.  Poor we were for sure.  No allowances, summer camp, boy scouts or college for "your boys" but you raised us right.  We all turned out to be honest and hard working and two of us worked our way through college to get our degrees.  No regrets here about how we were raised.  But I still have a tinge of resentment every time I hear "How am I going to send my kid to college?"  Hey, here's a novel idea.  Let him (or her) work their way through college like we did.  It will be good for them.  They'll appreciate life more just like my brothers and I appreciate where we are now, even though that tinge of resentment will always be there.
 
Me, my brother John and Mom 1962 - I was home on leave from the Army, John was just graduating from high school and my brother Isaac was in the Army in Germany when this picture was taken. John joined the Army after he graduated from high school (with my red blazer which he absconded with)


The Tipton Boys (photo compilation credit to Barbara Tipton)

On this Memorial Day weekend I want to give thanks for all those men and women who have sacrificed their lives and health for the freedoms that we enjoy today.  Thank you.








Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do Ask, Do Tell


Don't Ask, Don't Tell - 1962 version (three gays, I'm on the right)

The repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is before Congress again.  I try not to post negative of whining, complaining posts to my blog but on this subject I'm having a hard time avoiding it.

I am gay and have been all my life.  I've known I was "different" from my earliest memory which was when I was about four years old.  Of course at that time I didn't know the word "gay."  I only knew I was "different" and that I should keep that fact to myself.

Me, 5 years old 1946


When I went to grade school was the first time I heard the hateful words "fairy", "fag", and worse.  Then I heard the word homosexual.  That was me, a homosexual.

After graduating from high school I joined the Army.  On my application to join the Army I lied when I answered the question "Do you ever have homosexual tendencies?"  I knew if I answered truthfully that the Army would reject me.  So I lied about who I was so I could survive and serve my country.

Me, basic training Ft. Dix, NewJersey 1960 all growed up


As fate would have it the Army assigned me to work at the National Security Agency at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland.  In order to work at NSA, I had to have a top secret clearance.  Again, I had to lie when I filled out the application to work at NSA.

Me in my "summer tans" 1962 - check the sharp creases


Ironically, I met my first gay friends during the 2 1/2 years I worked at NSA.  We all lied about our sexual identity just to survive during our tour of duty.  Periodically, the NSA and the Army would have purges of gays.  You didn't have to be involved in sexual activity to lose your clearance, only to be accused.
Me with friends at Ft. Devens, Mass 1962 - good times


I had a good job when I worked at NSA.  I loved being in the Army.  At the end of my tour of duty I could have converted to a civilian status and kept my same job at NSA.  But  because I was gay I did not.  I wanted to make the Army a career but I did not.  The reasons I made these decisions is because I knew sooner or later I would be found out.  I didn't want to start out on a lifetime career only to have it ended once I was outed or came out.

Me (standing on the left) with my friends at Ft. Devens 1962 (no unit cohesion problems here)



Thus it is with much interest that I have viewed all the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" controversy.  Of course gay and lesbian members of the armed forces should be allowed to serve openly.  A person's service should be based on behavior not who they are.

Me (on the right) on the firing range at Ft. Meade, Md. 1962 with another gay service member - we both qualified


There is an assumption that all gay people are sex obsessed.  Of course some gays are sex obsessed just as some heterosexuals are sex obsessed.  But to assume that once gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly that "unit cohesion" will suffer is wrong.  Trust me, I know.   I am the expert.

The Department of Defense is conducting a study of what the effects would be on the armed forces if gays are allowed to serve openly.  A study?  What's to study?  Most service members now know who is gay and who is not.  Congress and the DOD doesn't give the average member of the services much credit.  Most service members don't care who is gay.  Of course some do.  We will always have those among us who feel threatened by those who are different than they are.  And there are some who are closeted gays themselves who don't want to be outed for their own selfish reasons.  Usually, these are the sex obsessed gays.

Friends -  Ft. Devens, Mass 1960 (I'm kneeling on bottom left)
Bob, Duane, Unknown, me, Bill and Dick         

One the most ridiculous suggestions I've head being made in this "study" is separate housing for gays and lesbians.  Absolutely ridiculous.  Isn't this the same thing that happened with blacks before former president Truman lifted the separate living quarters of blacks serving in the armed forces?  Haven't we as a country moved past this?  Apparently not.

 
Me in the barracks - harmless even with my pants off (back when I smoked)

I never thought in my lifetime I thought I would see as much progress that has been made in the public arena of acceptance of gays and lesbians.  I even resent using the word "acceptance."  I don't need to be "accepted." I don't need someone to "tolerate" my "lifestyle."  Just what is my "lifestyle" anyway?  Swinging from chandeliers while having wild sex?  That never was me nor will it ever be.  I just am.  The only difference between me and my straight male friends is that I was born with a sexual attraction to members of my own sex.   I didn't chose.  It just was.

Me with one of my boyfriends, Brad - not permitted while I was in the Army


So here we are again, debating the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Why there is even a discussion about this absurd policy still baffles me.  To me it is so clear.  Let people be who there are.  If they misbehave themselves, straight or gay, then hold them accountable for their behavior not who they are.

Even though I was prevented from choosing a career in the Army or a civilian career at the National Security Agency, my life has turned out pretty well.  If I had stayed in Army or worked at NSA I would never have met my Life Partner Bill.  I left the Army in 1963.  I met Bill in 1964.  We have been together ever since, 46 years.  And they say gay relationships don't last.

My Life Partner Bill - Air Force 1953


Just to show you how strange life is, Bill, my Life Partner was also a career service person.  He was in the Army and then Air Force for seven years before he had to leave to support his widowed mother.

Thus the irony, of two former service members who, if permitted to stay in the service, would never have found lifelong happiness outside the military.

Me and Bill 1972 - Philadelphia, PA - plaid was in 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Backyards

Me in my backyard this afternoon - peaceful bliss - 2010


Ask me what my absolute favorite pastime is and I'll tell you it is working in my backyard.

Sometimes it seems as if I've been working my whole life to achieve the peace and tranquility of working in my own back yard.  I know to some this seems odd but I've always loved working in a yard.

Perhaps my overwhelming desire had to do with where I grew up.  I spent most of my school years living in a second floor apartment.  Our family's first apartment was on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA.  It was a cockroach infested apartment that rented for $22 a month (this was in the Fifties.)
2nd Floor Front - our apartment on Washington Ave., Downingtown, PA - 2001

Our family sitting on the steps at Washington Avenue -our "backyard" - 1953




When I was eleven years old our family moved to a second floor apartment located over a office at a trailer manufacturing plant where my father worked on Boot Road, on the outskirts of Downingtown, PA.  We paid no rent for that apartment.  In lieu of paying a watchman for the plant, our family was the "watchman."
Our apartment on Boot Road, Downingtown - that's Mom on the "porch" -1956


When I was a senior in high school my parents brought three acres of land four miles outside of Downingtown and built a small ranch house.  Our family of five with four males over 6'4" tall moved into that tiny ranch house.  I remember well bumping and scraping my elbows on the stucco hallway walls walking to my first ever bedroom that was mine alone.  I had been pestering my Mother for my own bedroom as long as I could remember. Since I was the oldest I felt that it was my due plus I didn't like sharing a bed with my two brothers.  I wanted my own bed.  To this day I sleep alone.  That is the way I prefer it.

My parents home on Hopewell Road, Downingtown, PA - 2001


All during my growing up years I always envied my friends and schoolmates who had their own backyards.  None of my friends realized what a treasure they had in having their very own back yards.  I don't know of a one who liked to work in their back yard.  Something really seemed wrong with this picture because I was the one who wanted my own piece of land.  Now that our family finally had some land, I still wasn't satisfied.  The land was my father's.  He was a gardner and he called the shots.  He only believed in planting vegetables.  Whenever I suggested planting flowers or other plantings his usual response was "You can't eat that!"

I only lived on that parcel of land for a few months.  After graduating from high school, and with a six month detour for a hernia operation and the subsequent staph infection that I got form the hospital, I joined the Army in January of 1963.  No more back yard for me for years.

After leaving the Army in January of 1963, I moved to Pittsburgh, PA in.....you guessed it....an apartment.  Actually, I moved into a room.  I didn't even have my own bathroom.  I had to share a bathroom with five other apartment/rooms in the old Victorian mansion that I lived in on Roup Street in Shadyside, Pittsburgh.  You couldn't beat the rent at $8.00 a week but the bathroom accommodations sucked.

After three months of living in Pittsburgh, I has homesick for eastern Pennsylvania and Downingtown.  I moved back to Downingtown and got an....you guessed it...apartment in Coatesville, PA.  Still no backyard.  I lived there for 2 1/2 years.  Then I met Bill, my Life Partner.  About six months after meeting Bill, I acceded to his wishes and moved in with him at his....you guess it....apartment in Pennsauken, New Jersey.  Still no backyard.

Bill and I lived at the Penn Manor Apartments for a few years then we moved to Philadelphia so I could be closer to my job at Girard Bank by City Hall in Philadelphia.  We moved to ........Cheswick Square apartments on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough, PA.  Still no backyard but I did have a pool now.  Progress.

Bill and I lived at Cheswick Square for a few years and moved when I decided that I wanted to partake of the night life in Philadelphia without the worry of driving plus I could walk to work.  We bought a townhouse on Naudain Street, on the very edge of center city, Philadelphia.  The row house was 16 feet wide and 50 feet long with a back yard!  Finally.  Actually, it wasn't much of a back yard.  More like a postage stamp back yard.  No grass.  The surface of the backyard was patio slate with some small raised beds for flowers.  But I finally had some space, limited as it was.  In fact it wasn't enough space so Bill punched a hole in the roof and we had a roof deck with container pots.  That worked somewhat but it still wasn't a back yard.
Our townhouse on Naudain Street in Philadelphia, PA - 1972

After eleven years I decided I had enough of the city life and we bought land near my parent's home in Downingtown.  Six point eight acres.  Now I had a yard.  Actually, I didn't have a yard as much as I had a opening in the woods.  But still, it was my (our) land.  For twenty five years I purchased plants and shrubs and competed with the deer to see which plants would survive.  The deer won.
Me and Bill's home on Crawford Road, Downingtown, PA - 2001


In 2006 I decided I had enough of our wooded paradise in Pennsylvania.  As beautiful as it was I couldn't see how I could survive long range paying the ever escalating school and personal property taxes of Pennsylvania.  I decided to realize my life long dream of living near the ocean, in a neighborhood, with a back yard.  And that my friends is where I am now.  It is wonderful.
Home - 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lunch in Lewes

Jessie and niece Margaret at Gilligan's Restaurant in Lewes, DE

Yesterday my friends Jessie and Margaret visited me in Lewes, DE.  Jessie if the former wife of my cousin Tom and Margaret is her niece.  I met Jessie through my family genealogy research.  We met for the first time in person last year in Lewes.


Last week Jessie and I reunited again at the Tipton Family Reunion in Pennsylvania.  Jessie brought along two of her three sons and two of her grandsons.  Of all the Tipton family members, Jessie is the only one who is keeping the Tipton male line going.  For that she deserves extra special recognition.  Thank you Jessie!
Jessie and Ron at Gilligan's - thank you Jessie for keeping the Tipton line going!


Last year when Jessie and Margaret and I met on Second Street in Lewes, it was a beautiful, sunny day.  Like last year, yesterday was another beautiful, sunny day.  I must have a special Guardian Angel following me because the family reunion was also a beautiful, sunny day.

Yesterday I invited Jessie and Margaret to go with me to help celebrate a birthday luncheon for my good friend and former classmate Judy.  Judy's birthday is this Sunday.  I haven't seen Judy and her husband Jack for months and months, at least before the horrible back to back blizzards we had this past winter.

Jack was the catalyst who pushed me over the edge to build a house down here in Lower Slower.  I had been looking and thinking of moving for several years.  One weekend in 2006 I saw the perfect lot.  I already had chosen the perfect house plan.  All I needed was a push and Jack provided that push.  I'm not quite sure if I should thank him or damn him.  Just kidding Jack!  Buying a lot and having a house built in Lower Slower was perhaps the best decision I have ever made in my life.

I will be forever thankful to Jack and Judy also because they graciously let me stay in their bay front mansion while my house was being built.  Thank you Jack and Judy!

So yesterday we all met at 1:30 for Judy's birthday luncheon at Gilligan's right in downtown Lewes, DE.  It was just a lovely day.  We were seated outside on the deck by the canal under a tree which filtered the blazing sun on our noggins.

I made the introductions all around and we proceeded to order our lunch.  While we were waiting for our orders to arrive, my co-worker P.J. from the nearby in happened to walk by the deck adjoining Gilligans outdoor patio area where we were gathered.  He threw out a "Hey Ron!"  I threw back a "Hey P.J.!"  We had a little back and forth for a few minutes.  I pointed out that my friend Jessie has the same name as his daughter.  They discussed coincidence and noted that even though they both had the same outlaw name they spelled it differently.  Being the picture taker that I am, I asked P.J. to take our picture.  Here is the happy group below.
P.J. on the balcony

Happy birthday Judy! (the Birthday Girl is in the sleeveless top on the left corner)

We had a delightful lunch.  We had a long lunch.  It was then I realize that maybe our parking meter times were close to running out.  I know that Lewes is notorious for handing out parking meter fines.  When I had parked earlier and was feeding quarters into the meter the lady who had just feed the meter told me she visited Lewes last year and had gotten a ticket.  She told me she made a mistake and put in the wrong parking slot number.  She tried to point that out to the meter reader but he wouldn't budge. No excuses.  Parking meter fines are one of Lewes' main sources of income in the tourist season.

We said our goodbyes and agreed to meet again next year then Jessie, Margaret and I headed to the parking lot a block up the street.  I checked my meter.  I still had time left.  I backed out of the parking lot.  Margaret and Jessie were behind me.  Margaret pulled past me and stuck her hand out her window.  She was waving a piece of paper at me.  She yelled out her car window to me...."Did you get one of these?"  "ONE OF THESE" was a parking ticket.  Welcome to Lewes, Delaware Margaret.

Margaret (smiling....before she got the ticket)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tipton Family Reunion a Success!

Children and husbands and their children of the 36 Tipton cousins

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.

Debbie White Fincke with Tipton Family Reunion sign

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!

East Brandywine Community Park, Downingtown, PA 2010

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.
The Alison Pavilion, East Brandywine Community Park 2010


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!

Me multi-tasking at the sign in table


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.

Me greeting Tom Cruse, Terri Porter-Cruse's husband

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.

Louise Tipton White greeting her nephew, Tom Tipton, Jr.

When we were little kids, our parents used to have frequent family reunions at places like Lenape and Kerr Park in Downingtown.  However, over the years as the original eleven Tipton brothers died off and their thirty six children (yes, I have thirty five first cousins) grew into adulthood, we drifted apart.

The Tipton First Cousins


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.

Linda Tipton, Dick Tipton, Bob Tipton and Darlene Tipton Ford

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.

1993 Tipton Family Reunion 1993 Westwood Fire Company, Coatesville, PA


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.

1997 Tipton Family Reunion, East Brandywine Community Park, Downingtown, PA


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.

Jeff Tipton greeting his uncle Ed Tipton (with Charles Tipton sitting to side) at 1997 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.

1960 Tipton Family Reunion, Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA (Tipton kids)

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.

1960 Tipton Family Reunion, Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA (Tipton Women)


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!
The sons of Fieldon and Hester Tipton
1960 Tipton Family Reunion
Kerr Park, Downingtown, PA