Neighbor and neighborhood
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 hasnt
been to a reunion, but every year hes invited, and every
year, theres 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. Patricks 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 Lunenburgs
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; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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; Chardancy@aol.com.
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
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
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).