Our Reunion Experiences
We attended our first Hershey reunion in 1994 at the repeated
urging of Wilbur Hershey and his wife Toots of Pittsburgh, PA. My wife, Betty,
corresponded about genealogy for many years with Wilbur before our first visit, and we had
met them once when they were on a trip through Texas in the early 1980's. We did not know
anyone else at the reunion before that first year, but my wife knew about many of the
family members from correspondence between her mother and grandmother with the rest of the
family. My wife felt right at home with most of the Hersheys. With several, she felt like
she was looking in a mirror.
We stayed at a motel in Kentland that first year, and have tent camped for the last three visits. We expect to tent camp for future reunions. An air-conditioned trailer or motor home would be nice, but prior to this year, air conditioning was not very important since day-time temperatures were warm, not hot, and the temperature at night was cool to cold. One informal night-time activity is roasting marsh mellows for s-mores over an open fire. Singing, guitar playing, and cooking of apple and cherry pies, and of Rueben sandwiches are other night-time campfire activities. Staying at the campground instead of a motel allows us to enjoy all these late activities, and also allows me to go to bed when I desire while allowing my wife to participate in one of the marathon games of Mexican Train that usually continue until well after midnight.
That first year, I recognized that this was a group of truly special people, with family ties much stronger than I have seen. I don't know how many were at that reunion, but they were not strangers long. Those, and all the others I have met since the first I now proudly call "cousin" whether or not they are. They have been adopted into the Barber family.
Our travel to the reunion this year began on Monday. We left
Austin about 9 AM and drove to Grapevine, TX, to check out the new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor
World store. After finding a few fishing worms and several pair of wool socks that will be
needed in travels later this year, we headed on, stopping for the night in Hope, AR.
Tuesday was spent just driving, with a stop for the night at Effingham, IL. Wednesday
morning, the first stop was at Sam's Warehouse Club and then a Super K-Mart grocery in
Champaign, IL. Next stop was the Earl Park campground in Indiana, about noon.
Tom, Dwight, and Mike were already set up, with Tom having the only spot that had shade all day. My tent and screen room were soon up, beds, table, and suitcases moved into the tent and cooking equipment into the screen room. Betty was then looking for a game of Mexican train, and Kathy was ready to accommodate.
The rest of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were spent greeting the later arrivers, helping put up tents and screen rooms, playing Mexican Train and the new game this year, 3-13. Our daughter, Patricia, with husband Marty Howard, Vince, and Erica arrived late Friday. Tent camping with them had been planned, but with the extreme heat, I suggested to Marty that he try to get a motel room, and if he could, get one for me too. He was successful, and we spent Friday and Saturday nights in air conditioned comfort. Sunday, a cool front passed bringing temperatures down to more normal, and Sunday night in the tent was comfortable. A sleeping bag was needed before daylight.
Saturday and Sunday were spent largely with the planned activities, starting with breakfast cooked by Betty Boyd (eggs), Kathy (pancakes) and Mike (bacon) Hershey, my son-in-law Marty (pancakes), and probably others I did not notice. Following the Sunday business meeting, my daughter and family left for Chicago to continue a two week vacation trip. My two grandkids, Vince and Erica had a great time, and badly want to return next year, but they want their old cousins from Texas to come along and meet the new cousins.
Monday morning breakfast was in Kentland with the others who were able to stay that long.
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