Sweet Caroline… you think of a song and instantly finish that line. I think of a fabulous lady that tells amazing stories. I am lucky to call her one of my dearest friends. Caroline asked if I would be interested in an out of town job. Her family was having a reunion of sorts… but it was also a special party. I cannot tell it as great as she does… so here is an excerpt from her email to me:
“Years ago when my grandmother and her sisters/cousins/friends were young, they visited some big city that had a “Great Book Club” and they wanted to get a book club together in Marlin – so they called it “The Not-So-Great Book Club” because, well, it was Marlin. (you would have loooooved this group). They called themselves the Not-Sos for short. Somewhere along the way, they started throwing an annual Groundhog Party. Always centered around Groundhogs Day and at the Allen House. The party was for 21 and up and ALWAYS had a piano player who knew all the songs of the day and everyone would sit around the piano and sing. We actually have “official” songbooks (put together by the Not-Sos). All of the songs are from their generation – I grew up with them. I love them. The members determined who got to come if you weren’t a family member of the a member – as I recall, it was a BIG deal to come. If you declined too many times, you were nixed from the list. As the years went on, the generations got older, not as many people knew the songs, got too old to come, got too old to throw it, died, etc. the party started being more of a bi-annual event and eventually, it just didn’t happen. Occasionally, we’d have a “reunion” of sorts and we’d find a piano player who knew the songs – like at my dad’s 60th – and some family would come – but to Palestine for his birthday, not for Groundhog Party. Pretty much all but one of the founding Not-Sos are dead now. But our family always talk about and remember the party – along with all of the other things that were so wonderful about our family – like Happy Hour every Wednesday, Christmas breakfast (a tradition since WELL before the Depression).”
So a few weeks ago, I loaded up and headed to Marlin, Texas. I have heard stories of this family for years and every time I feel like I just lived a part of an amazing storybook. As I arrived, I was greeted by many people and warned by a few that I had no idea what I just walked into… I smiled and laughed and knew that it was going to be a great night.
I read letters from long ago, looked at pictures that told stories like I have never seen before, and listened as everyone chatted and caught up on what had been happening in their lives.
Before we got too far into the night we took one big family photo. A way to document all that had been there that night for an event that was sure to be memorable…
One quick picture of “the eyebrow”… I actually haven’t heard the story of this one yet (note to self: i need to ask about this one)
Shortly after this, the piano player arrived and promptly jumped right into songs from WWI… it was absolutely amazing to listen to.
Everyone crowded around the piano and sang the night away. Love, laughter and music… I don’t think it gets any better than this.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of this amazing night. Thank you for welcoming me into your family and sharing your incredible stories with me.