Let’s Cook: Oh No, a Family Reunion!
When you hear the words “family reunion,” what comes to mind? For me, enjoyment and great memories immediately surface. We recently gathered for our “34th Almost-Annual Repnow Day. ” For many years, we have gathered on the Sunday which was the closest to Oct. 21 because that was my Grandpa Walter Repnow’s birthday. We started when he turned 80, and we continued having celebrations until his 101st birthday. After his passing, we did not gather for a couple of years. However, each October there was emptiness so we restarted the gathering, and we continue to appreciate this family time.
Those early gatherings were held at the home of my parents, TeRoy and Marian Repnow. Often the weather was perfect-allowing us to mingle outdoors with a canopy of autumn tones. We enjoyed seeing and visiting with our cousins, aunts and uncles in this casual setting. Our time of gathering included a pot luck meal, family photo (think of all of the polyester pants suits photographed over the years) and lots of visiting. In time, the cluster of kin needed more room, and our choice then became either the City Hall of Underwood or the cozy Underwood Senior Citizens Center.
We aim to have a yearly theme, and this year we honored all family couples who have been married 35 or more years. We started off by recalling the marriage of our grandparents Bertha Anderson and Walter Repnow on April 6, 1918, and the marriages of their five sons: Walter Jr. to Dorothy Telenga July 14, 1941; Milton Repnow and Elaine Seeger on Dec. 31, 1949; TeRoy to Marian Christensen on June 18, 1952; Delano to Violet Hammer on July 3, 1953, and Burnell to Doris Heinle on Aug. 1, 1954. What fun it was to read the detailed newspaper wedding write-ups of yesterday. We delighted in hearing about the marriage of Sharilan Kaelberer and Darrell Repnow, both of New Salem, on Nov. 28, 1969 where “the double ring ceremony took place amidst a setting of lavender and white pom poms altar flowers.” Also to be noted was that the bride carried a bouquet of white roses centered with a hybrid orchid. We cannot forget the mother of the bride, Mrs. Reinhard Kaelberer, who wore a dress of winter white with red accessories. The mother of the groom selected a 3-piece blue knit suit. Many of you can recall these detailed and interesting write-ups. We enjoyed an embellished hour of recalling even more weddings.
Connie Repnow became the bride of David Reamer at Oak Harbor Lutheran church in Washington on Oct. 21, 1972 where “the bride wore a gown of imported organza with Schiffli embroidery accenting the bodice and bell-shaped skirt.” Cheryl Repnow became the bride of Bradford Clott on Aug. 17, 1974, and it was noted that the mother of the bride, Doris Repnow, wore a long pale pink gown with chiffon sleeves. Next came Delila Schell and Tom Repnow, both of Underwood, who were married on Nov. 23, 1974. Her gown, which featured a chapel length veil, was sewn by Bertha Anderson of Underwood. Shirley Stebbins became the bride of Neal Repnow on September 27, 1975, and it was noted that the church parlors were decorated with streamers of pale blue, sunny yellow and pink and large white bells. Cindy Repnow of Velva selected pink and green as her wedding colors when she was wed to Dale Howard on Oct. 8, 1976 at Oak Valley Church. Kathleen Thomas, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John M. Thomas, Karlsruhe became the bride of Eugene Repnow on Nov. 19, 1977 at Little Flower Catholic Church in Minot with Rev. Paul Cervinski officiating. After the wedding Mother Nature presented them with an old-fashioned North Dakota snowstorm–stranding some of the wedding guests for three days.
Guess what happened during and after this wedding anniversary presentation? The conversation gave way to more details from each wedding-inconspicuously coaching younger and older relatives to not only visit, but to enjoy a bit of family history. This family presentation had granted the ability for these relatives to connect to the point that when they exited, they popped up their Smartphones and said, “Let me mark the date for next year’s gathering-I want to be here.” Grandma Repnow, Bertha, is smiling from above because she wanted the extended family to stay connected with an annual family gathering.
We have all heard many times that the time with your children goes by so quickly. One day they are in the stroller, and before we know it, they are running in several directions with school activities and friends. By taking time to introduce a child to the importance of attending family reunions, you cradle in them the value of knowing their heritage. Family reunions are a wonderful way to combine the joy of gathering and nostalgia. I am a passionate believer in the power of stories shared especially by our elders. These stories teach them of their background and are hinged on the passion, pains, and desires of their early relatives. There has not been a time on Repnow Day that the voice of my grandfather has not reverberated with some of his humor and common sense knowledge. These stories have put me on a pathway of lifelong learning and curiosity about the souls who are responsible for my being here.
After the wedding review, the gathered relatives enjoyed a silver tea on a table dressed in pale pink with silver abounding. Scandinavian almond cake, cream cheese mints, sandbakkels, and homemade punch delighted the guests and reminded them that getting together with the relatives can be fun.
Here are some tips I have found useful in planning family reunions:
– Select a common day or time and use from year to year (Ex. The third Sunday in October)
-Be creative by using family history with games the entire group can play and learn from
-Have a photo table where actual photos of past and present can be displayed
– Invite each family to decorate a table with the theme (this year our theme was “Harvest Tables”)
– Bring board games, coloring and other items for children to enjoy with their cousins
– Rent a space that is large enough for everyone to be comfortable
– Suggest a potluck with members bringing family favorites or foods that reflect Grandma’s touch
– Take that step and gather your relatives for a reunion today!
This was a favorite at our reunion. This vegetable salad has had duo with Melmac, Ironstone, Corelle and even plastic plates. No matter the serving canvas, it makes a fine impression. There are several styles of this recipe, but I have found this one to be the most pleasing to our plates. This recipes comes from Mrs. Vera Mayo who I met while attending photography school in Turners Falls, Mass. It was as common as milk in her refrigerator. Her secret was to cook the carrots until they were soft, yet able to hold their form.
– 3 lbs. carrots, peeled, cut and cooked
– cup Mazola oil
– cup apple cider vinegar
– 1 scant cup brown sugar
– 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup
– 1 green pepper, cut into small pieces
– 1 large purple onion diced
– teaspoon of Lawry’s seasoned salt
Slice the carrots inch thick–thinner if you desire. Cook until soft, yet holding their shape. Drain and cool. Boil vinegar and sugar. Cool. Add tomato soup, pepper and onion. Mix all together, gently with a wooden spoon. This will keep for many days in the refrigerator. I learned at this past reunion that this salad has a favorite of my cousin, Gene. His grandmother, Dora Hammer, enjoyed making it. Gene remembers her keeping the garden carrots beautifully in a copper boiler layering them in between newspapers and keeping them in a cool place.
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