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Like the pioneer days, Dyess, Arkansas, was carved from 16,000 acres of snake-infested swamp in northeast Arkansas in 1934, a New Deal dream town for about 500 farming families ruined by the Depression. It was a second chance. Dyess was one of 102 towns President Franklin Roosevelt created for people left destitute by the Depression. 500 families, chosen from thousands of applicants for color (white), poverty level (the bottom) and physical ability to clear land and farm.

In 1964, Dyess became a regular municipality and has held reunions since 1981. 300 people come from across the country. J.R. Cash moved to Dyess with his family and remembers singing his first song in the back of the flatbed truck the government sent to move them. Legendary country singer Johnny Cash hasn’t been to a reunion, but every year he’s invited, and every year, there’s a communal hope he might just walk in.

Maple Grove and Franklin Township Community of Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Friends of St. Patrick, a non-profit organization, formed to preserve the memory of the founding families, is collecting histories of the Irish community families in Manitowoc, Calumet and Brown Counties, Wisconsin. Early settlers came from Ireland, England and Scotland in the late 1840s. As the community grew, descendants spread throughout the United States. There are over 15,000 known descendants stemming from St. Patrick’s Church in Maple Grove, Wisconsin. Their reunion reunion was July 7, 2002. Contact Friends of St. Patrick, PO Box 435, Reedsville WI 54320.

The Grand Family Reunion and 250th anniversary of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, July 10, 2003.
Over 250 years ago they fled religious persecution and frequent wars, all dreaming of a better life in Nova Scotia. 2,700 people migrated from Germany, Switzerland and France from 1750 to 1752. Their land grant dreams became reality in June 1753 with Lunenburg’s creation on Nova Scotia's south shore. Fishing and shipbuilding helped settlers and their descendants prosper for several generations.

In honor of Lunenburg's 250th anniversary, the Grand Family Reunion Planning Committee invited descendants of the town's first families to a five-day celebration beginning July 10, 2003. Chris Young, Committee Chair, says "A shared love of genealogy and history forms our event and we envision a week of discovery and adventure."

Mr. Young's vision is to "Hug long lost and new found relatives, tip our hats to those passed on and fill in the blanks in the search for our roots."

He hopes everyone will meet other genealogists for a mutually beneficial information exchange and find ancestors from traces left behind.

Reunion events included a Halifax to Lunenburg voyage, family information booths and an ecumenical church service. Attendees visited churches where ancestors worshiped, land where they lived and worked and cemeteries where they are buried.

Contact Chris Young, 60-302 College Avenue West, Guelph ON N1G 4T6 Canada; 519-824-9869;

North Middletown Kentucky, Black Heritage Reunion
Everyone with ties to North Middletown, Kentucky, was invited to come and bring their family to a reunion September 1 and 2, 2001. The weekend was devoted to renewing friendships, honoring ancestors, elders and both churches to create a loving, caring and inspiring environment for growth and development. Contact Charlotte Conner Dancy,1566 Lonsdale Rd, Columbus OH, 43232; 614-759-9174;

An exultation of Meadowlarks
by John Dinan
Half a century ago every kid who grew up in East Lynn, Massachusetts, spent the bulk of his spare time at the "Meadow" baseball and football fields behind Lynn English High School. Long summer days were spent honing sports skills or just laying in a patch of grass with a bottle of cream soda.

Lynn had a population of 100,000 and kids gathered from across the city, from the Highlands, Eastern Avenue and the Buchanan Bridge neighborhood. Groups seldom co-mingled until games were organized at the early teen level when teams from The Meadow played playground teams from other parts of the city.

These were '"growing up" years when solid friendships were formed but later lost as we grew into adulthood. Over the years, wars, marriages, friendships came and went.
Friendships made at The Meadow were based on shared youthful experiences and predated those made by marriage, military service and jobs. One would occasionally ruminate about the years and memories of young pals and our salad days at The Meadow but pressures of job and family soon dissipated these reveries ... until...

Ten years ago one of the old gangs that cut across three decades, three major wars and several neighborhoods decided it was time for a reunion of kids who grew up on The Meadow.

And so was born the Meadowlarks – a name Coach Gus Daum used to refer to the kids whose second home was The Meadow. Lists were assembled and invitations mailed. We gathered at The Franco-American Club in Lynn.

Old friendships were renewed. It was a renewal of that "carefree boy with cheek of tan" that resides in our collective past. "Do you remember so-and-so?" "Whatever happened to the kid who...?" "How about the time when...?" Questions and dimly remembered answers brought us back to a simpler time.

Meadowlarks reunions now take place twice a year in May and November. They are unique in their focus of shared youth.

One of the members had looked up the proper name for a group of Meadowlarks – it is an exultation. And that is what the Meadowlarks reunion experience is: the joy of remembered youth.

About the author
John Dinan retired after twenty-five years from the electronics industry. He also worked as a school psychologist, prison psychologist (Dannemora) and training psychologist (National Security Agency). He has been married forty years, has six children and two grandkids. He currently is working as freelance writer and expects two books to be published this year: Chicago Ain't No Sissy Town (Borgo Press) and Sports in the Pulp Magazines (McFarland).


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