Friday, May 29, 2015

The Fourth Kolb Family Reunion 
The fun for our family reunions actually began six years ago, when Leah and I stood talking in our kitchen and decided that we needed to have family reunions. None of us are getting any younger, and many of us had lost touch. We knew that our mothers and dads, if there’s a possibility that they could know what’s going on here on earth, would be ever so happy to see their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren gathering for fun and frolic! (Do you like that old-fashioned word?) The reason that I say that the fun began six years ago is that from that day to this, we have all enjoyed getting ready for each reunion, and that’s fun. It’s the anticipation that, in part, makes the fun. 
I think Leah was the one who suggested that we begin our gathering activity. I asked, “When?” She answered, “This summer.” (It was sometime in the spring when we were talking.) I said, “OK. Where?” She said, “My house.” Again, I said “OK.” And the plans began. That was in 2009, and we have gotten together every other summer or spring since then. 
Our first reunion (called back then the Kolb Cousins’ Reunion) was, indeed, at Leah and Dennis’s house in Hilltop Lakes, Texas.; the second, in 2011, at Gail and Raymond’s house on Lake D’Arbonne in Downsville, LA; the third, in 2013, at Debbie Trammell and Shelby Smith’s house on Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs, AR. I could write a small book about each of these reunions, about the beautiful locations, about the fantastic hosts and hostesses my cousins are, but I won’t. I’ll just say that each time we cousins gathered, we had a wonderful time with no dead air all weekend. 
Our fourth reunion, May 1 – 3, 2015, was right here in high desert country of New Mexico . . . Cerrillos, our home. We made lots of preparations, most of them “behind the scenes” things, just as the other cousins did, I’m sure, and we were ready when two of my two of my first cousins and their husbands arrived – Gail and Raymond Gambino and Leah and Dennis Pruitt, both being former hosts and hostesses. The four of them would stay at our house, Gail and Raymond in their motor home and Leah and Dennis in one of our guest rooms., a room that we call the “Green Room” because that’s where the musicians for our house concerts get ready for their performances. No, it’s not green. It houses Frank’s exercise equipment and has a fairly comfortable futon for sleeping. Sheila and Jack Freeman (Leah’s sister and her husband) arrived on Friday afternoon and stayed in our real guest room. So four of the five first cousins who were coming would be at the same location, and we all knew we were in for lots of fun. Our youngest first cousin, Becky Keck, and her family would be able to come until Saturday afternoon. If we had had just one most spot to squeeze someone into, they could have stayed with us, too! 
What fun we had on Thursday evening and Friday morning as we waited for everyone else to arrive! Leah, Dennis, Gail, Raymond, Frank, and I had dinner at our house, already beginning the catching up. Then, on Friday morning we went to San Marcos Café in our neighborhood for a delicious breakfast and more talk and laughter. I posted the photos from the café already, but I’ll include them again with the rest of the photos just to make a complete album for everyone who was here. 
Everyone, except Becky and her family, arrived at our house on Friday afternoon in time to hug and start catching up and eat dinner before the concert that Wendy had arranged for the evening. We had a roomful of relatives, but four of our best friends also came for the evening, and that was a good thing. I didn’t want the cousins to think that we didn’t have any friends out here, and I wanted our friends to meet our precious family. 
Our dinner on Friday evening was pulled pork (Frank’s specialty), baked beans, cole slaw, and macaroni salad. We began devouring the desserts for the weekend, too . . . carrot cake, cookies, and of course, the goodies that our Canadian cousins always bring, my favorite being the maple cookies that are available only in Canada, as far as I know. I could eat my weight in them, and believe me, these days, that’s a lot of cookies! Thanks, Bev and Bob, for never disappointing us! 
I’m not going to attempt to tell you whether all of these cousins who gathered were first or second or third or once/twice removed, but I do want you to know where they’re from so that you can see the great distances that they traveled to be together. Here goes:

Gail and Raymond Gambino – West Monroe, LA
Leah and Dennis Pruitt – Hilltop Lakes, TX
Sheila and Jack Freeman – Lakeway, TX
Becky, Cornelius, Sarah, and Hannah Keck – Dallas, TX
Frances Trammell – Mesquite, TX
Lynita, Jen, and Steve Trammell – Dallas, TX
Debbie Trammell and Shelby Smith – Heber Springs, AR (They now also have a  home in Santa Fe, and that’s where they are right now.)
Bev, Bob, Laura, and Kevin Eadie – Canada
Hilary Smith – Canada
Jackie and Brian Payment – Canada
Valda Barry and her longtime friend Betty Laakson – Logansport, LA, and Baton Rouge, LA
And, of course . . .
Wendy, Jackson, and Todd Yocham – Cerrillos, NM
Corey Mansfield and her boyfriend Zach Maloof – Cerrillos and Santa Fe, NM 
And Frank and me – Quite a houseful when we were all assembled! What a great group of cousins/friends!
The concert was so good, and everyone enjoyed the singers, Nikki Talley and her husband. Just the right kind of music for the Kolb cousins! We all visited for a while after the music, but we didn’t gather for as long as we usually do after a concert because everyone was asked to be back at our house by 9:00 on Saturday morning so that we could eat a light breakfast and hear Frank’s intro to our neck of the woods. 
We ate and talked and hugged, and then Frank took the floor. I never tire of hearing him give some history of Cerrillos and Madrid, and he tells it in a way that others really enjoy it. I couldn’t let him conclude without telling the story of why we’re here in The Land of Enchantment and especially why we live exactly where we do. Many of you have heard the story, but I won’t ruin it for the rest of you by giving you my version. Who knows? You may be right here at our table sometime, and Frank will entertain you royally! 
Next on the agenda was our tour of Cerrillos. We caravanned down to the village and parked on First Street so that everyone could depart to look at our funky little village. It has lots of history, including Lew Wallace’s (the first governor of New Mexico) writing part of Ben Hur right next door to where Wendy and Todd live. One of the most interesting things about Cerrillos is that Young Guns was filmed here. If you’ve never watched it, or if you haven’t watched it in a while, be sure to take it in. Good movie . . . and the scenery, especially on the main street (which is First Street), is just the same today. The village is actually supposed to be Lincoln, NM, but I guess Cerrillos looked more like the movie makers wanted it to. 
We gave everyone instructions to read all of the yellow signs on various buildings because that’s where they’d find the history. And so they set off to walk the dirt roads of our new hometown. Wendy acted as a guide for many of them, making sure that they went to Pat and Todd Brown’s Turquoise Mining Museum and Petting Zoo and that they wound up at the Yoyoungsfields’ house to see Todd’s Cantina and maybe to sample a little of Todd’s beer. 
After the “tour,” we all drove the three miles to the REALLY funky village of Madrid, pronounced with the accent on the first syllable. Debbie and Shelby, sweet cousins that they are, had made reservations for us and treated us to lunch at the Mine Shaft Tavern. They had reserved three very long tables for us. It was so funny/interesting to note the seating, completely voluntary. One table had all the young folks; one, the folks in the middle of the ages (you note that I didn’t say middle aged!); and one, all of us old folks. The folks at the Mine Shaft had a special menu for us, consisting of five choices for lunch (arranged for by Debbie and Shelby) and complete with a welcome to the Kolb Family Reunion as the heading. The food was delicious, and the service was excellent! Thanks again, Debbie and Shelby! You rock! Becky and her family arrived while we were still at the Mine Shaft, so our reunion was complete. 
Saturday afternoon was for shopping, more touring, snoozing, more catching up on family news and reminiscing about old times . . . whatever anyone wanted to do. I must mention that while we were off touring, our new friend and honorary cousin, Betty (Valda’s friend), had been at our house making delicious and gorgeous strawberry pies for Saturday evening. Thanks, Betty!! 
We all gathered at our house late in the afternoon to get ready for another wonderful meal, this time mainly by our son-in-law, Todd. He makes THE BEST enchiladas! Thanks for all the hard work in getting them ready for us! We also had Frank’s pinto beans and my Spanish rice, but the enchiladas were the main thing that all of us remember. 
Saturday evening of our reunions is always the most fun for me because that’s when Wendy has our big slideshow. Through the years, we have gathered lots of old photos of our relatives. The old black and white/bronze colored ones are the most fun. We know who most of the people are, but some remain a mystery. Valda knows more than most of us do about the “old folks” because she’s lived in Logansport most of her life and actually knew some of the people that we don’t recognize. Thanks for being our historian, Val! And thanks, Wendy, for being our faithful slideshow producer! 
More carrot cake, cookies, and scrumdiddlyumptious strawberry pie! Plus much more visiting and catching up. We invited anyone who would like to to visit our little church on Sunday morning and for everyone who was still here on Sunday afternoon to come back for lunch (leftovers from Friday and Saturday). We promised homemade ice cream. 
My three cousins and hubbies who were staying here at our house had to hit the road early on Sunday morning. It’s always sad parting with them because we probably won’t see them again for two years. But maybe that won’t be true. Anyway, we hated to see them go. Everyone else was staying in the area for a couple of days to take in the sights and shopping in Santa Fe. 
We were so happy to see Bev, Bob, Hilary, and Kevin walking up to the church door that morning. We love introducing relatives and out-of-town friends to our friends here in NM. And vice versa! Our Canadian cousins enjoyed our church service and probably found it quite different from others that they’ve attended.
Cousins began to gather around noon, and we were so happy to see them again and to see some of the leftovers disappear. Our homemade ice cream was a disaster, but we managed to consume it anyway. We have a new freezer, and we did something that we shouldn’t have . . . followed directions exactly. It turned out to be so soupy that I should have given everyone straws. Since then, we’ve learned to take only some of their “rules” and to do everything else the way we know to do it. Hey, cousins . . . come back for good ice cream!! 
Once again, we had to see cousins go. Once again, we were so sad! We had been looking forward to this gathering for two years, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. What a wonderful time we had entertaining people who are so very special to us! Thanks so much, dear cousins, for coming to see us and to visit with each other in our neck of the woods! 
So when and where do we meet again? Bob and Bev have invited us to go to their house in Sicamous in British Columbia, Canada! Lots of us are already planning our trips! Thanks, Bob and Bev and Randy and Dianne for inviting us to YOUR neck of the woods! 
After everyone left, I remembered that Valda had wanted her photo taken with Willie Nelson, so Frank and I met her and Betty at The Plaza Café, located, of course on the Plaza in Santa Fe on Monday. It was so much fun to squeeze in one more little piece of reunion. And Val got her photo with Willie! 
Happy Summer to all, and you don’t have to wait for a reunion to come to see us. You’re always welcome!