All My Cousins? | Family Reunion 1958
All my cousins? Nope! There were 30 first cousins at this first-ever Renich family reunion in July 1958. If I’m counting right, we’re all there in the picture. That includes one babe in arms–back row, third from the left. Our newest edition was born only 12 days before the reunion. The grand total, including cousins on my father’s side not present at this reunion and not yet born, comes to 46 as of today.
Do I know all of them? No. Have I met all of them? With a few exceptions, yes. Our last reunion was in July 2013. Over 20 of my first cousins were there, plus offspring and at least three of our wonderful senior family members. About 140 -145 were able to come.
This photo was taken on Sunday morning in 1958. I’m in the back row, the fifth cousin from the left. Sister #2 is second from the left. Sister #3, Diane, is sitting in the third seat from the left. I think we’re all dressed up just for this picture, taken in a park near the Renich family house. I’m 14 1/2, Sister #2 is 13, Diane is 9. Sister #4 (5 years old) was in Savannah with our mother.
My first introduction to the Renich family home in Kansas came in 1950 when my family moved from California to Savannah, Georgia. Sister #2 and I stayed there for a while with our grandparents and other family members. My parents took Diane, still a baby, and drove to a mission organization conference in Pennsylvania.
The Renich Dairy began when my father’s family moved to Kansas in 1926. I loved watching the way everything worked, from delivery of milk from dairy farms, to preparing and bottling the milk, and sterilizing returned bottles from customers. Labor-intensive and fast-paced. Also successful, thanks to lots of hard work from many hands and a steady stream of satisfied customers.
Another highlight was the outhouse. The only option in 1950. It sat back in a corner of the yard–so that nighttime trips were more than a small adventure (in my opinion).
Back to 1958. What did we do at this reunion? As I recall, we sat around and talked, listened to family stories, ate a lot, hung out in the yard and in the house, and stayed out in the evenings to watch fireflies. There was a program of some sort, but that wasn’t what interested me most.
That honor belonged to a male cousin. He was older than I. Good-looking. Nice smile. And wonder of wonders, he came and sat with me on the backyard lawn one day. Not just side by side, but back to back. For me, this was heaven on earth. I couldn’t believe it. We even got teased.
This was the first time I’d ever believed for at least a little while that I was pretty. It wasn’t about meeting a heart-throb. It was about feeling I was a young woman and being happy with that. Even proud in a good way.
I think that’s why I’m smiling so nicely in the photo.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 August 2015
Renich Family Photo 1958 (photographer unknown)