I was stuck. A man sat across from me. I didn’t know how name. I wasn’t sure how he was related. But I believe I was listening to his entire family history (which was long…considering he was in his mid-80s). When we got to the story about how he saw Cole Porter once because his cousin lived across the street from his apartment in Peru I began to wonder, “How did I get sucked into this?”
Andrew’s Reed family was having a reunion up in good ol’ Bremen, Indiana. No one knows where Bremen is, so when I attempted to describe it’s location, I said, “Plymouth, Indiana is the nearest bustling metropolis”. It’s in northern Indiana, not quite “the region” but pretty close. Much of the Reed family has hailed from this area, in or around Marshall County, for generations. Marshall County is where Andrew’s mom grew up. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to meet some of the older people in the family who I haven’t met and who might have some info for me that I could add to the tree. I had no idea what was in store for me there.
It started out with the usual Reed atmosphere. Lots of nice people and good food (mostly carb-based). I usually leave an event in northern Indiana feeling very bad about myself and what I had consumed. I like to pretend that the drive back to Indy actually burns calories.
Soon after the eating Andrew’s mom comes up to me and tells me she was talking to a man about the family’s history and he said that so and so was a colonel in the American Revolution. Well….I needed to talk to this man. Take me to him! She took me to a very nice man. I showed him the very vague print out I brought with me and merely asked him to look it over to tell me if there were any glaring issues. He seemed very excited about my tree and said there were names on there he hadn’t really seen yet. Then he asked if I wouldn’t mind talking to his dad.
I should have known better when it took about 3 minutes to break into the conversation that he was already having. His son said, “Hey. Dad!” about twelve times before he decided to acknowledge his presence. He said, “This girl here is working on the family tree and wanted to know if you could see if what she has so far is right.”
He did! He checked out the tree. It looks like I’m on the right track. That took like 5 minutes. I talked to him for another 55. No no….that is wrong. He talked to me for another 55 minutes. At least. I’m not sure what he was talking about for most of it but here is some of what I learned about: the entire history of the state of West Virginia, Cole Porter’s headstone in Peru, Indiana, how many branches of the name Smith are really out there (countless), bodies of water in northern Indiana, and various “scandals” within his family.
I glanced around every so often for help. I was trying not to be rude but he was talking to me with CONSTANT eye contact. I could have been handcuffed to the picnic table and my level of “trapped” would have been exactly the same. Finally Andrew’s mom caught my crazed and anxious glances. She ran over. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a run, but she got to my side very quickly (she is truly a gem) and attempted to break into the conversation. It took almost another 10 minutes for her to help me get out and away from that table. When I asked for his email address we got a long story about how his email address came to be. ::sigh::
We finally exchanged names after speaking for over an HOUR and were on our separate ways.
I finally left the table and immediately reprimanded Andrew (probably unfairly). “Didn’t you see me over there?!? I kept looking over here! Thank god your mother saved me!” He responded, “I thought you were just learning lots!” Or something along those lines. He really was a very nice man. I shouldn’t have been so peeved, but I had truly become claustrophobic in a open-sided park shelter. I didn’t even know that was possible.
As Andrew was packing up drinks into the car his new iPhone fell out of his front pocket and sort of broke, a lot. Ugh. He had it much worse than I did.
Overall the reunion was great. I wish I hadn’t been sucked in for so long because I wasn’t able to talk to the rest of the fam that we don’t see very often, but the food was good. I felt like after that conversation I deserved all those chocolate peanut butter crispie treats. I earned it.