Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A year ago I blogged about sort of accidentally becoming President of the Whetzel-Felton Family Reunion Association.  The ladies who had served for several years announced they were stepping down and asked who would like to replace them.  Of course you know exactly how that went - it was one of the few moments in the history of the Reunion during which there was dead silence.  And you'd think after nearly 35 years of working for the gummit I'd know better than to do anything except get very quiet and try to make myself as unnoticeable as possible.  But for some reason I asked if it was something that could be done long-distance and the next thing I knew I was president.

You have to understand - I just don't do stuff like this.  I in particularly don't get up in front of people and speak.  Oh, no I don't.

And I live about 150 miles away.

But despite my worries, Reunion weekend rolled around, and I left Saturday morning loaded with family records, cups, plates, and plastic utensils, cleaning supplies, and a for-real speaker system rented from a friend who does that sort of thing for a living.

I did learn that haste makes for boo boos as I was grabbing stuff to take. Danged bi-fold doors!

I beat my 85 year old cousin Bud to the pavilion up in the back of beyond of Preston County by just a little bit.  Said 85 year old cousin came directly from a 38 mile ATV ride over the mountains that has become a day before Reunion tradition with his nephews and nieces.  I soooooo wish I could arrange to be up there for that - maybe once I retire.  Anyway, we scrubbed and swept and in general got the place cleaned up for the day.  Then we sat and chatted for a while.  Suddenly I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and I looked just in time to see something like this moving behind some downed limbs:

Found out there's been one frequently seen crossing a nearby corn field.  I guess it heard us and got curious.

I graduated from West Virginia University in 1975, and my daughter graduated more than a decade ago.  I wanted to explore the old stomping grounds, so I headed for Morgantown for the night.  Mountain State has a brewery there these days, and produces some pretty good beers.  I'm not good at the description thing.  I just know that this:

And this:

are darn good beers.

And they are really serious about their pizza:

Morgantown is built along the Monongehela River, and people have short memories.  The restaurants have lovely outdoor seating along the river:

But, folks, it's called a flood plain for a reason. And West Virginia's rivers smashed the daylights out of the state not 30 years ago.

Ah, well, they'll get reminded some day, but right now it's nice to have.  

After dinner I went looking for the house I lived in all those years ago.  I can't remember the address, and I'm going to have to go back and walk the area to find it.  The streets are just too narrow and busy to be looking for it while driving.

And at 6:30 the next morning the heavens opened.  Oh, goody.  Reunion Sunday and it's bucketing.  But it got it out of its system in plenty of time, and by 1 pm the tables were loaded with good food as usual.

A rough count of the sign-in sheet gives me 96, which isn't too bad, particularly considering how the morning started.  

Bud's eight year labor of love is complete and available:

And I think all the pre-orders were gone by the end of the day. 

 I got through the business, more or less, and then the day was done and we were cleaning up and suddenly I was exhausted.  And dreading the drive home.  When we first moved to the D.C. metro area, it was an 8 hour drive to get back to the Settlement.  No U.S. 81, or 70, or 68.  Fifty-four years later I made it back to Charles Town in less than 3 hours.

Now I have paperwork, information to move into the old ledger, and banking to do.  And I have to start investigating ways of moving us onto the web.

I'm actually hoping for more paperwork next year - things to get into a family web site.  I tried to be coherent in reminding people that we have a heritage that we can be proud of.  More than 200 years ago our ancestors - frontiersmen and pioneers - traveled across Indian trails and wagon tracks to that place and they built a life in the wilderness.  And I pointed out that each of us is a time machine - we take people time traveling with our stories.  So I've asked for people to bring their stories next year.  Write them down, e-mail me, mail them to me.  Stories of their lives in the Settlement.  Stories they've heard.  I hope they do. I hope I can have at least a beginning web site with the ledger and the letters I have from 1941 by next year.

And the best moment of the day, a moment when I didn't know whether to dance or cry with happiness? The moment when someone told me they came because they had come across my blog about last year's reunion.


  1. Not a bad "first" at all! My mom organized her family reunion for 20+ years, and finally stepped down after turning 80 - it's a LOT of work.

    Well done! :)

    1. Thank you! Fortunately, once I was physically there folks showed up to see if they could help.

  2. When I saw the title, I thought that it was your birthday.

    Kudos anyway. ;-)

  3. Congrats! And know your work WILL benefit the future generations!