Monday, October 3, 2011
For 101 years the descendants of the family in the picture have been meeting on the last Sunday of September, in the city they helped found, for the Coleman reunion. The second man from the right is my granddaddy (was he standing in a hole?) We all called him Dad.
My earliest memories of the reunion were at the Greenway Community Center in Roswell, Georgia. We’d run home after church to change clothes then my mother would gather up the beans or corn that had been simmering all morning and off we’d go. I remember being shy during many of those years (Yes, me….shy.) and dreading going. There was all the typical pinching of cheeks and “my, you’ve grown” activity going on. I hated that. But I’d always hook up with a distant cousin and find fun and games while the adults stood around and smoked and laughed and caught up. The food was just unbelievable. Umpteen generations of Southern cooking. Paula Deen would not even rate a place at the children’s table.
Though I’ve missed more reunions than I’ve attended in the last 30 years, I’ve watched as the older generations disappeared and my old playmates took over as the organizers. My mother is one of a handful of 80-plus participants who are still alive and kickin’. But she didn’t feel like going this year and will soon relinquish her place as a reunion matriarch. On the other hand, her great-granddaughter was born five weeks ago and the baby’s grandmother, my sister-in-law, is already talking about showing little June off at next year’s gathering.
I spent the week in Georgia wondering what it would be like to move back to this place of my roots, where my ancestors (and my husband) are buried. Not likely. The sentimental appeal does not overpower the oppressive noise, traffic and congestion of the big city. What happened to the little town I grew up in? Scarlett O’Hara would say it’s gone with the wind. And it really doesn’t matter whether or not I give a damn. I no longer belong here.
So I’m looking for a quaint little 20’s-30’s bungalow somewhere close to downtown St. Pete, near a Starbucks; the decadent pleasures of the city without risking life or limb for a tall skinny latte. Yeah, that sounds good to me.