Monday, August 06, 2007

Family Ties

This past Sunday was the first Sunday in August. If you're even distantly related to my Grandma Reed, you'd better have it carved into your brain right beside your own birth date. The Reunion, as Grandma refers to it, is held on this date at Fort Hill State Park. This has been this way my entire life.

Fort Hill State Park is just 4 miles from my house. I can remember the park being beautifully kept and manicured years ago. The park was packed, sometimes overflowing, with people every Sunday during the summer months. My family always attended, at least, 2 events there each year. One was the annual family reunion and the other was our Sunday School picnic. For either of the these, someone from the group needed to be there very early on the day of to reserve the preferred location. It was "first come, first served" to get the perfect picnic spot in those days.

I've attended several baptizings that took place in the creek near the park. My husband was baptized there. There aren't many moments any sweeter or more spiritual than standing on the banks of a creek with the congregation, singing an old favorite hymn a cappella, as a brother or sister in Christ is being baptized. Health issues (Ugh! Creeks aren't as clean as they used to be!) and modern conveniences have changed all of that, too.

So, it is, for Fort Hill State Park. For at least 10 years now, our family is the only one in the park. We reserve the shelter house just in case. But, there usually isn't any other request for it. The grounds are so terribly neglected. Two of the locations where most of our church and family picnics were held, aren't even there any more. There used to be a row of 4-5 tables in a couple of shaded spots that would accommodate larger groups. Some of the trees have been cut down, the picnic tables gone, and the areas aren't mowed. A Christmas Eve ice storm three years ago caused so much damage to the park. Some of the paths on the hill itself are still closed because of fallen trees.

Yet, despite the 93 degree heat on August 5, 2007, the first Sunday in August, the Reed-Miller Reunion commenced. Slowly but surely, between 12 and 1:00, the family gathered in. It kind of reminds me of the buzzards that return to Hinckley, OH on the same date each year. You wonder if anyone will come, then one by one, slowly but surely, they "flock" to The Reunion.

There were 4 generations there. We have such a good time visiting with each other. Personally, I think we have some of the best cooks in the country. The food, every dish, is always delicious! Several commented on how there weren't any duplicate foods; everyone had fixed something different. I took an Asian salad and a Sloppy Pineapple Cake. The cake is always a big hit. When I went to get some dessert, there wasn't 1 piece left (see recipe below). After the meal, pictures are shared, updates are given to the "family historian", and we always laugh and laugh over something or another.

There are only two of my grandma's generation who were able to attend. My grandma will be 89 next month while Aunt Dottie is nearing 87. Two others have passed away since last year's gathering. An end of an era is getting so very close. Many of the younger ones have voiced a desire to meet somewhere else. Maybe where there are inside toilets (Oh, yeah, I left that out, didn't I?) and air conditioning. I'm sure there are changes coming in the future. But, for right now, if it makes a couple of old women happy to have a "Reunion" where they have had one most of their lives, and as long as my grandma is living, on the first Sunday in August in 2008, I'll be there.

Sloppy Pineapple Cake

2 eggs 2 c. sugar

2 c. flour 2 tsp. soda

1- (14 1/2 oz.) can crushed pineapple (undrained)

Mix together in a large mixing bowl by hand.

Grease or spray a 9 x 13 cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Make sure cake is done in the middle by checking with

a toothpick or knife.

Cake cut as soon as you remove it from oven.


1 stick butter

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 c. or 5 oz. can of evaporated milk

Boil icing for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour hot icing over warm cake.


This cake has a bread pudding-like moistness to it.

It is great with a cup of coffee!

This cake is so easy to make and is always a favorite at any event I've taken it to.


Blogger Cherdecor said...

This brought back memories, but also made me sad to read that the park is deteriorating so badly. The last time I was there was many years ago and I think we had to pay to get in. Maybe I am wrong but wthere was a fee attached somewhere.

I wonder why families do not picnic there any more? Is it because of the run-down conditions?

I still remember the smell of the forests as we climbed the hills.

Is there no longer a care taker living in the house?

Is Serpent Mound still being cared for?

1:07 PM  
Blogger Just Terrific said...

There was a fee charged back several years ago when the park ownership went from the state of Ohio to the historical society. They only charged a fee for 8-10 years, I think, but things were never the same after that.

I think that the park is "the victim" of a change in our society. Do you remember the roadside park across from Butler Springs Church Camp? It is no longer there. The state has closed most of them in the last 20 years. The only sign of it being there at all are the culverts that are in the ditch that made it accessible from the road. There was a nice shelter house there. Now, there is just a place to make a u-turn. There aren't any other signs at all of a rest area ever having existed.

There is a caretaker who lives in the house at Fort Hill. He takes care of Fort Hill and Serpent Mound.

Serpent Mound is in much better repair and has a new shelter house that is only about 3 years old. I really think that the uniqueness of the "serpent" keeps interest from travelers. Remember the big "revival" of New Agers some 10-15 years ago? They converge at Serpent Mound various times of the year for worship. Sad, sad, sad. The New Agers create quite a panic in local people around the park. Especially, when any of their "worshipping" takes place at night during a particular moon phase.

I just wrote all of this with a touch of humor and sarcasm. I'm really very serious. Our little "country corner" of the world is no longer sheltered.

11:38 AM  

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