BACK IN BUSINESS! My computer has been so stuffed full of pictures from the summer that I couldn’t open Live Writer, my blog program, until I found someone who could help me transfer pictures to my hard drive. All my geniuses-in-residence went home and back to their lives and I was left with the only option….a genius at the Apple Store. Finally day before yesterday, a cute girl spent about an hour with me trying to figure it out and …I’m back in business!
What an incredible summer we’ve had! With everybody except our oldest grandchild, 17 year-old Max (who had a volleyball tournament and then a three week internship in China) but with the addition of the newest future member of our family, Ian Wright (see that post here), all 44 of us managed to have a wild, chaotic, magical, exciting, incredible reunion at the Bear Lake. With some coming the last week of June, some leaving early and some staying until August 2nd, we pretty much had between 15-44 people at the lake for most of July. That’s between 45 and 130 meals a day for a month! How lucky are we that we have fabulous cooks (both men and women) who helped plan, prepare and serve amazingly healthy, scrumptious and creative meals?
Eli and Julie were in charge this year and they came up with a new idea that involved me. Eli bought “police-grade handcuffs” and handcuffed me to a chair during meals and interesting discussions so I would quit leaving to help. It was pretty funny but I have to admit that I did enjoy a lot of meals and fun conversations that I would have missed otherwise .
Since I’m so far behind, I’m not even going to try to record all that happened at the reunion. Although I’ll post some of my favorite pictures from my little iPhone 4S, later, I suggest that if you haven’t already seen it, take a look at the wonderful synopsis and truly fabulous pictures of our fun together on Shawni’s blog here.
That includes a remarkable music video that Eli challenged us to make. After we sent him about ten, two or three second little video clips from where we live across the country, including Hawaii, for the video to the song Happy, he somehow managed put it together just before the reunion started. How in the world he managed to coax everyone to get this done is beyond me (and I’m sure he’d be the first to agree that it was like pulling teeth), but we did it and he did it! It is truly a treasure here: https://vimeo.com/101322434 Check out other delightful details on Shawni’s blog above or Charity’s here.
SO what I am going to post are my fun times with my four fun Grammie Camps this year! This is my one chance in the year to have these kids by age group all to myself. I gives me a chane to let them know, not only how much I love them but what I value: stories about ancestors, the scriptures, music, art and hard work. Because of schedules when kids could get there, I started with the oldest kids this year.
Noah, who had driven their new Sprinter off the showroom floor from Orange County, arrived at the lake just in time to generously let us use this fun new vehicle for our First Grammie Camp adventure. Elle, Ashton, Grace Isaac and Aniston were as pleased as punch!
I assigned each group of Grammie Campers some of my favorite music to listen to before they got to the lake so we could talk about it during our time together. This groups’ music was The Four Seasons by Vivaldi (someday they’ll thank me for that) so we we listened to it together on the Sprinter’s excellent sound system as we made the beautiful drive to Star Valley, the birthplace and childhood home of my mom Hazel Clark Jacobson. It was an hour and half away from Bear Lake and I have to admit that though the kids really liked The Four Seasons, I also got a great education on their favorite music as Ashton had brought his play list which his cousins were pretty delighted about!
Before we left that day I also asked each kid to try to learn the stories of and actually become an ancestor for the day. They each had a name and information on one of the ancestors who were the main players of our family in Star Valley. At lunch at a great Mexican Restaurant in Afton, Wyoming, where my Mom went to High School they told the story of their lives to the other kids.
Ana was Grandma Ida Weber Clark, who had ten children before she died in the Flu Epidemic in 1920 at age 38, taking her two youngest babies aged 2 and 8 months with her to heaven within the next four days. Ashton was Grampa Arthur Raymond Clark (Ray) who, at his wife’s death, was left to take care of the remaining eight children and a ward as he was the bishop. Elle was Ida’s mother, Verena Goldenberger and Issac was her dad, Samuel Weber. They emigrated with Ida and her siblings from Switzerland after they joined the Mormon church. Grace became Hazel, my mother who was Ida’s and Arthur’s daughter.
We went to the place where Samuel and Verena raised their 10 children, including Ida in a little house nestled in a place called Tin Cup right about where that little cabin in the background is located.
The next stop was the cemetery about a mile away in Freedom, Wyoming where all those ancestors were buried.
The kids are standing by “their” graves. Look how beautiful Ida’s grave is with a shawl draped across an open Bible.
And Samuel’s with it beautiful design below. The sight from their graves looks pretty much like the green hills of Switzerland.
A short distance away are Arthur and Ida’s graves. The stone was placed much later, as Ida and her two little children were buried in the night with no services because everyone in Star Valley was either sick or taking care of the sick and dying in those terrible dark days!
The Webers were so prominent that they even named a street after them in Freedom, where my mom was born:
From there we went to “The Big House” in Etna that Grandma Ida Weber Clark helped her husband Ray Clark to build. They had been living in a little hovel across the street on their farmland with 10 children. Ida drove a wagon many miles each week to get supplies to build the house and continued to prepare three meals a day and milk the cows while they built. This is the updated house that Ida and Ray had so lovingly built:
Sadly, it was only two years later when Ida died in the Parlor of this house, along with her two babies in the flu epidemic that killed 50 million worldwide and an enormous number of people in Star Valley. Such a sad story!
We were delighted to see that they are remembered with a street sign at the road by their house (see their house in the background):
I think that our favorite part of the day in Star Valley was a visit with my incredible cousin Nada who is about to turn eighty. After living in California most of her married life, she has returned to Star Valley where she grew up and is living with her daughter Jarene and near her siblings.
I had told her that we were coming and when we arrived at her home (which was her childhood home), she and her daughter Jarene who is living with her, had a lovely program all ready for us. She is an extraordinary piano player and all-around musician and was taught to play the piano, first by ear from my mom and then by classical training.
She had song sheets ready for the kids and I and we all joined in singing some songs with her sister Rama and Jarene, who had a cute percussion section all ready for an accompaniment to the songs. Some songs we knew and some we didn’t but Nada skillfully taught them to us in a blink and it was bliss to hear Nada play just like my mother used to. Our Swiss roots run deep and Nada is also a remarkable yodeler. The kids were delighted! I dearly wish I knew how to post videos. Maybe I’ll add a couple of clips later when I figure it out.
My mom lived with Nada and her family (her mom was my mom’s oldest sister) for several years while she was teaching school before she married my dad at age 38 (which truly classified as an Old Maid in those days). Nada had lots of wonderful stories to tell the kids about their incredible Grandma Hazel. The kids were mesmerized!
My mom was a remarkable elementary school teacher for 45 years! She started when she was 20, retired at 65 and changed about a thousand little lives in the process. Nada had a picture of one of her early classes in Star Valley.
After some spectacular yodeling, we went upstairs where Nada has stored an enormous library of journals (and hundreds of VHS videos). The kids were delighted to look through a few of those books that she has kept since she was a teenager!
What fun we had!
We stopped for ice cream on the way back to Bear Lake and I learned a lot about what the kids were thinking, what they thought about where they were in life right now and heard some pretty funny stories! On the 90 minute drive home, we went over the scriptures they learned this year (2 Nephi 2:25 and @ Nephi 25:26 as well as Helaman 5:12). They did a superb job of reeling them off and finishing off the ones they hadn’t quite finished while we listened to The Four Seasons.
That nice Sprinter took us in style past my dad’s farm and my mom’s house in Montpelier and then we made a quick stop at the Bloomington Cemetery where Grandma Hazel is buried.
Josh, who added a lot to each of the Grammie Camps this year (more on that later) saved the day by ordering dinner for us at Coopers and it was ready by the time we arrived.
He took pictures with his “real” camera and we headed for our final event for the day.
Ashton, who had been wearing this T shirt all day knew what it had to say was especially true as we headed for our finale for the day: Who Shot Juanito Bandito at the Pickleville Playhouse.
This was our 5th year to see this fun melodrama together on the other side of the lake and it never fails to delight!
We wrapped up the night with a quick traditional flour game at the Lighthouse and then the kids dropped off almost immediately in their sleeping bags
Morning brought the traditional crepes with Nutella, bananas and BL Raspberries made by Elle and Grace and the last chance to repeat the scriptures word-perfect for prizes. We listened to the last strains of The Four Seasons while we ate!
It was a Grammie Camp to remember!