Fun with Family

Last week I attended a family reunion for my paternal grandmother’s descendants. We do this every two years in a different location. This year we all met in Dayton, OH which was where Grandma Emma lived and raised her family. She had four boys  All the original sons have passed, so my generation of cousins and their families are the group.

We started the reunion with a dinner. We love to eat! The next day we took a bus tour of Dayton, seeing the houses, churches, and schools that we all heard so many stories about.

Then we journeyed to Ripley, OH, on the Ohio River, which our great-great-great? grandfather helped build. We toured the Rankin House where his family lived after the Civil War. But BEFORE the Civil War, John Rankin lived there. He was a minister, but the reason it’s a historical landmark is that he ran his house as a major station on the Underground Rail Road. Among other things, he left a lamp burning in the living room window for years. It was to let slaves trying to get to freedom know that the house up on the hill was a safe place.  This tour was fascinating. Howard, the guide, was a talented storyteller and he really made the history come to life.

  

After that we gathered for another dinner. The last day we spent at various venues. My daughters family and I played at an entertainment center that had games like Chuckie Cheese, as well as go-karts, bowling, mini golf, virtual reality games (my grandson spent a half hour on Fortnite), and my favorite – Skeeball! Other people went to a brewery, and an Air Force Museum. That night we attended a Dayton Dragons baseball game. They’re a minor league feeder team for the Cincinnati Reds. They lost, but we sure had a great time.

The final morning we all met for breakfast. In between all these events, we talked and talked and talked and talked……

After the reunion, I decided to return to one of my favorite places, Hoosier National Forest in southern Indiana.

I camped for a few days and relaxed. eing an introvert, the past two weeks have been a bit over stimulating.

*the first one was given up for adoption (long story, maybe a later post) and he found us later on.

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Christmas Memories

I grew up in southern Ohio. Dayton, to be exact. And Christmas was always a very big deal at our house.

Memories include making homemade caramels with Mom. The kind you cooked on the stove and then wrapped up in wax paper. Wrap one, eat one, wrap one, eat one, until you were caught. And Daddy’s popcorn balls  that we kids couldn’t help with cause the syrup was so hot. And the chocolate fudge. Oh boy, I’m gaining weight just thinking about it.

It wasn’t just food either. We always went downtown to Rike’s department store to see the windows. Glorious animated figures in winter and holiday scenes. Different every year. Rike’s was one of the big stores in Dayton, along with Elder-Berman’s, neither of which is still around today. Recently I was back in Dayton. I visited the theater center downtown which happens to be on the property where Rike’s stood. This what is looks like inside. Marvelous architecture.

And they have re-furbished and preserved some of the animated scenes and put them on display. Each scene is inside a giant case set up to look like a window. I spent quite a while peering into them. There’s so much detail.

                 

And they even brought back the best part of going to Rike’s during the holiday season. Tike’s Gift Shop. It was a room set up especially for children to go shopping for their family. The doorway was about 4 feet high so no adults were allowed. Store clerks assisted us in purchasing just the right thing for mom and dad. I believe nothing cost over $1.oo And they gift wrapped the presents so the folks would be just as surprised as we were on Christmas morning.

Another great story from my life is about the year we got the piano. I wanted a piano badly. I had been taking dance lessons and wanted to change to an instrument. So that year, I think I was 8 or 9, my parents bought one. But didn’t tell me. It was to be a complete surprise. I ran down the stairs Christmas morning and there it was. I could not speak. (I know, I know, …ME?) It wasn’t possible. We did have a fireplace, but how on earth had Santa got it down the chimney? Well it turns out, the night before we had gone to the 11:00p.m. Christmas Eve church service like we always did. When we got home, I was tired, almost asleep on my feet. My mom walked me through the house with me on her left side, my dad had my brother on his left side, (the piano being on the right side of the room) and they walked us up the stairs without us seeing what had been delivered while we were gone.

I took lessons for three years and no I can’t play without HOURS of practice. So don’t ask.

Christmas is still a special time for me. It means family and giving and kids squealing with joy. And food, Lots of food.

You can look forward to my next post entitled “My Exercise Routine.” LOL

 

 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is unique.  It’s a recent addition to the National Park System, 1970’s, and was created in an urban area. In fact, it feels more like a National Forest because there are villages and towns and county roads inside its borders.

Civilization intrudes in many ways, like Highway 271.

Many areas of the park are actually city parks in the Cleveland metropark system. The Cuyahoga Valley lies just south of Cleveland, Ohio. It features the Ohio-Erie Canal and has many museums and historic sites. The one on the history of the canal system is excellent.

Other attractions within the park include golf courses, ski resorts, sustainable farms, horse riding trails, and several inns.

The Visitor Center is an historic site itself. It is in the village of Boston Mills and was a tavern/rest stop for canal boats.

There are several nature centers, too. The one I visited is tucked away in the woods.

I did a little hiking, but as you can see, the weather was not cooperating.

All in all this national park is interesting. And, as a bonus, since it is made up of city parks, there is no entrance fee.

 

How Vincent Broke a Leg and Family Time

One nice thing about retirement is that when family needs you, you can be there for them.

Last week Vincent broke his leg. I was driving through a downpour and didn’t see an object on the road. It blew a hole in a rear tire and so I had to stop. Fortunately I was about 500 yards from a gas station, where I pulled in and called the Roadside Assistance Program that I have through Good Sam.  They changed my tire and I drove to the nearest Walmart to get a new tire. Then my sister called.

My brother had a small health scare which resulted in a trip to the emergency room. I was wandering around Indiana and about a hundred miles from where he lives. My sister, who lives there also, called me and asked me if I could come. So I did.

He’s fine and came home the same day, but I’m spending some time with them now. I probably won’t be traveling for a while.

I had originally envisioned my retirement to be all travel with a few stops for family events. But now, it is nice to realize that travel is not the all consuming passion I had thought it would be. Family time is so important and I am grateful for the way my life has evolved so that I can spend time with them when they need me.