Last Updated: Friday, June 20, 1997
Cummings Family Reunion Log
May 23 - May 25, 1997
By: Anne Cummings French
This log recounts the Cummings Family Reunion held in celebration of Esther Cummings' 75th birthday. It is written by Anne French with inputs from the other family attendees. The reunion was planned and coordinated by Kathy Cummings Denton, and the following family members attended:
Friday, May 23, 1997:
The alarm went off at 4am but with breakfast, packing, cat food storing, house sitter note writing, etc., Stewart and I didn't get on the road until about 6am. It was a quiet trip, listening to Patricia Cornwell's "Hornet's Nest" Book-On-Tape. We arrived about 4pm and noticed Tom & Joyce's car in the parking lot as we went to check into the Budgetel. They had left Ft. Worth on Thursday, taking two days to make the trip since they were traveling with Emily (5) and Amelia (3). We called to see if they had been out to Mom's yet, but they were just freshening up having arrived not long before. We unloaded the car, waving up to to Emmy and Mia who were frantically knocking on their window. Then we went on out to Mom's.
Mom was in great spirits with big hugs all around. We said "Hi" to Patty and then all three of us relaxed on Mom's wonderful front porch. Finally I decided it was time. I told Mom she might soon be seeing another car come up her driveway. She said, "Oh, goodie! Who?" I said, "Tom and his family." She clutched her chest and looked to the sky. "Oh, I'm so glad!" Then I said, "You will see some others too." She said, "Oh, I know Teresa is thinking of coming, and Gil had said he would be here." I said, "Yes, Trese is probably on her way to the airport with Kath right now, picking up Trina." "Oh! My! How wonderful!" "Gil, Deena and Julie will be here soon, and that's not all. Glenn and Andy are coming too." "Oh, I can't believe it," she said. "I dreamed of having a reunion like my sister Evelyn had. I never thought it would really happen." I told her, "Kath planned this over a year ago, and she got us all here!" "I'm so glad. Teresa had asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told her I just wanted to see everyone and now it's happening. This is wonderful!" Not long afterward, the gravel crunching up the driveway heralded the arrival of Tom, Joyce, Emily and Amelia. The girls immediately took to Patty and followed her everywhere while the rest of us relaxed on the porch, my favorite place to visit with family and look out on the lake and woods.
We left Mom's about 6:15 to head over to Kath's for a pizza party where we met up with Trina, Trese and the Denton family. After embarrassing Kath's Tom with aunt and granny hugs in front of his teenage buds, the clan gathered in the back yard. The kids quickly found the trampoline and swingset. Glenn and Andy arrived, with Andy having had only 3 hours of sleep, so we ordered lots of pizza to keep our engergy up. We had combos, cheese only, and ham & pineapple from Papa John's. Liberal use of paper plates let us visit as much as possible. Gil, Deena and Julie arrived just as we were reaching our pizza limits, but they assured us they had already eaten. They were quite tired, having driven all day to see the Mormon shrine in Illinois, and had the bad luck to take a wrong exit right at the end of the trip. But once they arrived, it marked the first time all of the Cummings siblings had been together in at least 20 years! We hadn't met Deena before and she was a real treat, immediately comfortable to be with. Julie and I caught up on John Burkett news, Trese told us of her impending month as the book manager which she hopes will only be a month since she loves doing the music management at Borders, Stewart and I brought everyone up to date on TI's sale of each of our divisions to Raytheon and Bosch Telecom, respectively, and Trina told us about her softball team, the boys' scout stuff, Melanie's friends and Doug & Brandi's birthday weekend. Ben and Brenda joined us, having been at the Carnival (the setup of which put out the power at Kath's house for a few hours), and Sparky was a big hit with Emily and Amelia especially. Finally, about 10:30, Stewart and I went back to the Budgetel, dropping Mom & Trina off at Mom's for the night.
Saturday, May 24, 1997:
While Glenn scoured the countryside for cream stuffed pastries, Stewart & I had our Budgetel complimentary breakfast of Danish and coffee (not bad!), then went on out to mom's. Trina and Mom were waiting for us on the porch and we enjoyed the view and caught up some more. Glenn came out later, but Tom & Joyce went straight on into St. Louis since Kath had planned a barbecue and we needed to get it underway early enough to leave time for the banquet Saturday night. When we decided to leave for St. Louis, Patty had other ideas and we all chased her around the car a few times before deciding she was going to be a lucky roaming dog that day.
At Kath's, we found her heading to the store for sodas and extras so Stewart was enlisted as Major Barbecue Dude while I hauled food back and forth and cleaned up the dining room for a second round of eating for the day. Stewart and Tom tried tried unsuccessfully to get the gas grill to warm up enough to heat frozen meat, but finally Tom & I headed to the nearby hardware store for instant lighting charcoal. It worked great and we cooked our way through a huge stack of burgers, brats and turkey burgers, leaving enough for another meal. Salads were added, sodas passed all around, and nobody left hungry. Trina showed us a variety of new braid styles, trying them out on everyone's head that had more than an inch of hair. The kids wore down the swingset and trampoline while we reminisced about Trina's pencil sketch of the Cummings clan when we were kids, with Glenn holding Clyde. This prompted a déjà vu setting where we used Sparky as a virtual Clyde, and out popped the cameras. How'd we do?
After cleaning up, we drove Mom back home so she (and we) could catch a few Z's before the banquet. Some of the others were very tired too. When banquet time arrived, Glenn and Andy offered to pick up Mom, so Stewart and I went straight on in to the Holiday Inn, arriving about 5:50 to find a frantic Holiday Inn supplied hostess. We were the first ones there and she wanted to start serving food at 6:00pm. Everyone else showed up pretty quick though, all clean and shiny, and we quickly remedied the "Denton Family" name on the door by having Emily write the "Welcome Cummings Family" sign on the white board. The cousins got reacquainted, we flipped through some pictures, took a lot more, and marveled that we were all actually together again after all those years. Dinner was served and we had a fine meal, followed by some champagne which was accompanied bya wonderful toast by Kath, thanking Mom for raising us all alone and letting her know how much we love and appreciate her.
After the toast, Kath led us in a round of story telling. Each of us was to relate a story of our childhood, followed by a story about something we never told mom. Here are some of the stories that ensued:
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her bard-an'-keep;
An' all us other children, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mosteset fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Wunst they was a little boy wouldn't say his prayers, -
An when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,
His mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wazn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue an' ever'wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout;-
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever'one, an' all her blood an' kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a'standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed
what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away, -
You better mind yer parunts an' yer teachers fond an' dear,
An churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns'll git you
As the stories wound down, the cameras picked up. We got a great shot of Kath's Tom's eye art, and caught the good sides of Andy, Ben, Deena and Julie, Trina, Trese, Anne, Stewart and Mom. Finally we got some serious group shots and one silly one. Then it was time to disband for the evening.
Sunday, May 25, 1997:
Andy and Glenn had to leave for Texas early, but Tom and Joyce decided to stay another day. We all gathered back at Kath's, hauled the chairs back to the back patio and someone got the boom box going. The two stepping riveled Elaine on Seinfeld, and then the instruments came out. Stewart started with the sax, sight reading from Kath's song books. Then Kath and Brenda regaled us with trumpet and trombone, and finally Emily and Mia joined in on the bongos. Trina continued her hair designs and then someone produced a book of different styles complete with instructions so our heads were Trina's for the day. We broke out the leftover pizza and burgers and had plenty to feed everyone again. Then, we moved to the front porch for some mean Jenga, resulting in vertical champ Brenda, stacking champ Julie and free style champ Emily. Back into the house as some light rain began, we got some Pictionary underway. Kath drew a good Alcatraz, Trina drew everything good (including a frog and cold feet), and the girls drew things with grids (Brenda drew the floor, Emmy drew a gate). Kath cracked up when Emmy came over to her and whispered, "Should I draw squiggly things on it?" Kath guessed she meant vines. Brenda, upon seeing the finished product said, "You should just draw squiggly things on it when people can't guess." Someone did guess it.
Gil, Deena, Julie and Trese went to see the Arch on Sunday so we didn't see much of them after that. As the day wound down, we drove back to Mom's (me, Stewart, Mom and Trina). We had some wonderful pan broiled orange roughy and veggies, then called it a night. Stewart and I had to leave pre-dawn to get back to Texas. Other than some major downpours early in the trip home, it was uneventful and we finished our Patricia Cornwell book on tape.
It was a great reunion and a good time was had by all. Maybe we shouldn’t wait so long for the next one…