HELLO, WE’RE HERE!

Now What? by Rich Paschall

What do you do when friends come to visit?  Do you plan a nice dinner?  Do you stay in and cook or do you go out?  Do you plan some activities or do you go for spontaneity? Do you bring out old photo albums or run pictures on a computer or even on your television?  There are a lot of things you can do if it is just for a day.

What if friends and family are coming for more than a day?  A few days of guests may take a little more planning.  Maybe you want to both eat at home and go out.  Maybe you want to take your visitors around to meet other family and friends.  Maybe this is the opportunity for a lot of conversation that has been missing in your friendship in recent years.  But what if they come for a few weeks?  Yes, weeks!

When I was small, perhaps 6 years old, I recall visiting Tennessee with my grandparents or other family members.  My grandparents were from Tennessee but they spent the late 1940’s to mid 1960s in Chicago.  There were plenty of relatives in the small town and rural areas for us to visit, so we made the rounds whenever we arrived, staying here and there.  Since I was the little kid from the north, these friends and relatives of my grandparents enjoyed entertaining me when I first arrived.  That probably wore off quickly.

Down on the farm

Down on the farm

We stayed with people I do not recall and, since I was little, the details are a bit sketchy.  I had no idea that decades later I would be interested in these vague memories.  I do recall that sitting around the living room, or front porch if the weather was nice, and telling old stories was a popular pastime.

“Well, how ya’ll doin?  I guess it’s downright cold from where you come from.”

“No, it is hot there too.  It’s July!”

“I swear you are the spittin’ image of Robert Lee at that age.”

My father’s middle name was Lee.  I guess I heard plenty of stories of my father when he was my age, although “my age” seemed to take in his entire childhood.

Most of these visits included my grandfather or some other relative telling how my father got that scar on his chin.  It seems that he was not much more than a toddler when he ran into a barbed wire fence chasing after my grandfather.

“He was told to stay put there at the house but he wanted to help out in the field like everyone else.”  I could not see my father as a farmer, at any age.

Sitting around telling stories is a trait of a lot of families.  It is a happy thing to do when family and friends get together.  In a rural area, it might just pass as the most exciting thing you could do anyway.

I do recall that I must have been the entertainment sometimes as the southern folks took the city boy around the house or farm.  One time some adults had finally convinced me that I should walk across a field to pet a cow.  Never mind the fact that I was just a tot and the cow was, well…, a cow.

I headed out  across the field, a bit scared I am sure, but determined to pet the cow.  When I got near the cow, he took off in another direction.  I guess he was just as afraid of the little city boy as I was of him.  Anyway, he wanted nothing to do with me.  There are some more amusing farm animal stories but, fortunately, I can not think of anyone still alive to tell them.

What are you looking at?

What are you looking at?

After my grandparents retired I was old enough to get put on the train in Chicago and collected from the train in Fulton, Kentucky.  It was the nearest stop to my grandparents in Tennessee.  Yes, we went around and visited relatives and friends.  I could now participate in some story telling.  I was still told I looked like Robert Lee, which I was always to take as a complement.  In my grandparents’ retirement years, there was now something more to do.

“You can walk right down there to the Dairy Queen and get yourself an ice cream cone.  If you go down there after dark, you can hear that bug zapper getting something every minute or two.”  Now that’s entertainment!

When my grandmother passed away at some point in her 90s, we returned to Tennessee for another round of family visits.  My father and I attended some family reunions in other years.  One time it was at a Baptist church, the next time it was at the John Deere dealer.  It seems the John Deere dealer had the largest room in the area, bigger than the church.  We didn’t need any farm equipment, but it was interesting to see.

Even decades later, our visiting routine was to travel around and see relatives, mostly without advance warning.  We were always welcome, however.  Once my father and his brother, my uncle, tried to remember how to get to someone’s house using landmarks from when they were kids.  The amazing thing is there was little movement of families and we always found our way around.

On one trip my father wondered if old Aunt Ella was still alive.  She would have to be in her 90s and we were not confident we would find the small town well off any highway, much less Aunt Ella.  When we spotted a mailbox with our last name, we went up to the house where an old woman sat on the porch.  My aging father had not seen her in decades.

“Well, I guess you don’t know who I am,” my father started out.

“Why, you’re Yancy’s boy, Robert Lee,” she declared without missing a beat. “And you must be Robert’s boy,” she said to me.  I must have been in my 40s by then.  We sat around and talked, as was the custom.

What do you do when relatives come calling?  Do you ever go to visit old family and friends?  Go to restaurants? Visit museums, famous landmarks, local hot spots?  Have actual conversations?



Categories: Anecdote, Childhood, Family

Tags: , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. We almost always eat at home. A family meal in your home is just so much better and we sit around and talk. We have an annual family reunion, which is pot luck, and we just catch up on the news with our families.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely reminisces. Enjoyed reading a post about old time values and lives. I think these days we visit with relatives very less. We are obsessed with ourselves and our work. If there is some spare time, it is spent taking care of ourselves.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the sadder things about getting older is that the family thins out. All of the “older” generation are gone, both Garry’s and mine. We ARE the older generation and Garry is the oldest living male in his family … and I’m the oldest woman in mine. It’s a weird feeling. The few of us that remain don’t see each other much. We live too far away and don’t travel much. This is where the Internet helps to at least allow us to stay in touch.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Our family doesn’t reminisce too much but we discuss politics, religion, sports and education, Rich. By the way, my family has all R’s and my little brother is Richard, “Ricky” as a boy. I like to hear if visits to the country and family history, too. This was a very interesting post. 🙂
    My grandparents and parents liked us to stay at the table while discussion went on. I was sent to live for my 16th summer, as was my Mom her 16th summer to live above my Great Aunt and Uncle’s pharmacy and candy store in Rockport, MA. I sure loved making my way around that beautiful Cape Ann town. I worked every day from 7 till 2. This side of family had a lot of cousins while my Mom had only one sister and she had 3 girls. My Dad had no siblings and no immediate cousins. I learned their love stories and wrote heritage stories I posted about in my early posts. (Love American Style, (grandparents) and Love Story European Style, great grandparents)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Rockport is one of my favorite places in the world. All of Cape Ann is beautiful, but I think Rockport is the MOST beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My Moms father had a sister who taught there and married my Great Uncle George Tuck. My second cousins John, Roger and Ed Tuck all were involved in the candy factory, Tucks Candy or the Tucks Pharmacy. My grandpa’s fanule came from Sweden and settled there. Small world and happy we have a very favorite area in common. Sone favorite memories are of Bear Skin Neck where those pretty pastel shops with arts and crafts were. My Dad setting up his easel to paint the Motif # 1 or boats on the bay. The final “excited babble” would be when my aunt gave me once a week to get crabs legs or a whole lobster for $5! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for sharing. Family visits mean so much more later on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • When I was a kid (back in the day, I hate that cliche!), we had regular weekend dinners. There were two, maybe three generations of family around. I remember bits and pieces of their conversation that still hang in my sense memory, more than 60 years later.
        No time for stuff like that anymore. The internet, we’re told, is so much easier.

        Liked by 1 person

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