I mention a while ago thet my cousin, Harvey Loughmiller stop by to visit. Did I tell you about the fambly reunion he thow fer ever'body back in '28? Waal, Harvey, he decide that all the fambly should get together, rebind the fambly ties, ya see. So he start invitin' one 'n all to his farm over by Caney Creek. Harvey have him a amazin' spread over there. Hundreds of acres, he has accumulated, hills and hollers, timber and bottoms, and he has prospered, that would be the word for hit.
Well, gettin' the word out, fambly scattered 'round as they were, got to be a problem fer him and his wife, May Dean. So he decide to take out ads in the newspapers, had hit printed up in Rogersville, in Kingsport, in Stone Gap and Newport. Run it in Bristol, too, an' for the Lockmillers what go to Texas, and the Millers now out here, he send invitations to all he could locate.
His ad say, "Big Family Reunion! to be held at the home of Harvey and May Dean Loughmiller, September 1,2,3, Caney Creek Farm, Rogersville, Tennessee. Bring your musical instruments, your tents and blankets, and bring your big, open and loving hearts. Loughmillers, Lockmillers, Millers, Whitacres, and Whitakers, all descendents of Jephthah Loughmiller should be here!
"Shucks, if you are a friend of any of the Jephthah Loughmiller clan, come along too. Plenty of space for everyone's tent, and plenty of food for everyone!"
Well, sir, near as we could figure they were three hundred seventeen people there!
Harvey had put his har'd hands to work gettin' the place ready. They had fix parkin' space for a hunnert cars, they had dug latrines and set up extry outhouses. Set up a dormitory in the barn loft for them as din't have tents. Th' old ones would stay in guest rooms in the main house. They prepare pits for hog roastin' 'n I believe they go through five, maybe six hogs. May Dean an' all the cousins who live in Hawkins County pitch in an' prepare baked goods twel you would not believe. Bread, pies, an' cookies by the hunnerts.
Reconnectin', that's what hit's all about! Why, catchin' up with kin! Little kids from near-newborns to great-grandpas. The oldest ones there was the Elspeth Whitacre granddaughters, 94 year ol' twins, they was.
Entertainment? Oh, my. Hill people allus been able to make they own. Mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, ever' sort a string instrument, many build by the musician whut play 'em. Singers! Lord 'a mercy, thet clan were blessed with voices to thrill th' angels. The Lockmillers from Texas had a quartet, sing in closest harmony you ever hear! An' my uncle, Rumford Miller, baritone voice transport you to heaven. Anyway, the music go on day 'n night. Townfolk drive out ta hear the music!
Excitement? Waal, you might imagine the thrill of seein' uncles an' cousins you ha'n't see in ages. An' sport? Baseball fer ever'one 'n games fer the kids. See thet horseshoe nailed above the barn door there? Thet there is my trophy fer winnin' the horseshoe pitchin' contest. Hah! Fool them ol' buzzards, I did. I allus been purty good at shoes, an' I kep' my hand in over the years. You know that, boy; I whup up on you right frequent, don't I?
The best show, though, were put on by Cousin Abe Miller f'um over to Rye Cove an' Cousin Marvin Lockmiller from Dothan, Alabama. The singin' were goin' on, prolly a hunnert people gathered 'round listenin'. The group whut tuk the stage jes lay a finishin' touch on "Wildwood Flower." I tell ya, those folk over on the Holston got nothin' on this fambly, come to singin'. Waal, sir, Abe 'n Marvin were standin' to'rd the back the crowd. Standin' nose to nose, they were, an' they voices startin' to gettin' louder 'n louder, twel when the music stop, they coulda been heard to Rogersville. Marvin screamin' "Anyone vote for Hoover is a mo-ron!" An' Abe come back with, "Who you callin' a moron?"
Hunnert or more eye witnesses by now, an' yet not one could ever say who thow the first fist. But go at it? I guess not! They was punchin' an' kickin', grabbin', and dreckly they was rollin' on the groun', clench in a death struggle, bitin' 'n clawin', an', no lie, still hollerin'. Now it was "Say Uncle!" 'n "Hah! You say Uncle!" So four five a th' ol' uncles finely separate 'em. They stagger to the well an' bathe they wounds 'n by the time they was breathin' steady again, they was best pals. Hang out with one another along of they wives the whole rest of the party.
We wind it all up Labor Day afternoon, all gather together, hold hands in a big ol' double ring and sing "Will the Circle be Unbroken."
© 2014 David W. Lacy