You’re Wright We’re Todds – Family Reunion – 1982 Gridley, CA

 

 

Grandma Arlene with her little helpers...

Grandma Arlene with her little helpers…

My Grandma,  Arlene Todd is the second oldest daughter of 9 children born to Renna & James Wright.  Every couple of years, for as long as I can remember (up to fairly recent years) she & her sisters each held a Wright Family Reunion, getting all of the families together.  Sometimes it would be back in Arkansas where they were all raised, and I remember going once to Oregon where a couple of the sisters lived.  Grandma didn’t always get to go, but most of the time she made a huge effort to leave the flower shop in the hands of my mother or other wonderful staff member and she was off!

The In-laws

The In-laws

 

The Outlaws...

The Outlaws… also know as Grandma and her siblings…

In 1982, it was finally time for the reunion to be held at Grandma’s house in Gridley, California.  We kids were all beside ourselves with excitement… not only were the cousins coming, but extra kids and family members!  Now, if any of you remember my grandfather Bob, he was what you would call a pack rat… well, today we might say hoarder.  Nevertheless, his ‘collections’ were what made exploring out at the farm an ideal paradise for children.   Around every corner a new mystery awaited us as we climbed over old truck beds, under tractor pieces, and through broken peach bins.  Well, I heard many a grumble as many of Grandpa Bob’s ‘collections’ were moved, shuffled or hauled away to clean up the place for visitors!

Mom looking fabulous beside the sign that she painted.

Mom looking fabulous beside the sign that she painted.

Since our family lived nearby, of course we jumped in helping out.  My mom wanted to paint a sign marking the long driveway down to the house, so we racked our brains about what to put on that sign…  we tend to go big in our family, no small paper sign would do!  Mom, found some great old cowboy cartoons that she wanted to incorporate and I remember coming up with the slogan ‘You’re Wright, We’re Todds’.  She easily whipped up our large sign and no doubt Dad & Grandpa Bob hung it up out at the road.

Family hanging out that hot summer weekend...

Family hanging out that hot summer weekend…

 Grandma made arrangements to have some friends trailers brought in to house family that flew in.  I specifically remember her borrowing a camp trailer from Bob & Sandra Waller, some local friends from around the corner here in the Manzanita area.  Many family members brought their own trailers, and it looked like a small trailer park when everyone finally arrived!  Hay bales were brought in to sit on, and tables and chairs from grandma’s church were set up.

Waiting for the outhouse...

Waiting for the outhouse…

I’m not really sure how this tradition began, but Grandma insisted that we needed an outhouse so a couple were built between the house and the barn.  That was a big joke, and many photos were taken by that obligatory outhouse!

Grandma Arlene & Grandpa Bob

Grandma Arlene & Grandpa Bob

More congregating...

More congregating…

I remember loving to listen to the siblings talk… each in their own adorable cadence of accents.  It was so soothing and frankly amusing in my 11 year old mind.  In the evenings they would all gather together and sing in the same fashion that their parents taught them as children, splitting into parts.  Grandma played the old green piano in the living room, some family standing around her, some sitting.  They sang songs that they learned as children, and the old hymns that never get old.  I attempted to read the music and join in, but I never quite got the hang of singing with them.  They had been doing it for their entire lives and it was second nature to them.

The girls...

The girls…  I love James peeking in!

The cousins arrived as usual, and we were a force to be reckoned with…  there are 8 of us used to running wild during the summer visits, but when you add in all of the bonus kids, well it was complete chaos.  Granted most of the new kids were much younger and immature, practically babies in our eyes, and didn’t warrant very much of our attention.  Those of them old enough to participate in our night time hide & seek, and other daily rituals were allowed to participate, and the others we begrudgingly let tag along or no doubt we would get in trouble from our parents.  We were filthy.  We were at full speed.  We were completely content.

 

Blurry boys on prune bins...

I’m really sad that this is blurry… it captures visiting cousin Mark showing off his guns alongside the regulars…

Loaded up and heading down the driveway to the candy store!

Loaded up and heading down the driveway to the candy store!

Grandpa Bob made sure that we all got to ride in his old tan pick-up truck to the Candy store…  Granted any kid on a bike could pass grandpa at the speed that he drove, but babies tended to roam in the truck bed so they were moved to the front.  Seatbelts were shared, two or three kids per belt.  It was a mile up to the little Manzanita store and back.  Talk about making memories… this was the epitome of childhood joy.

BBQ - where the men gathered...

BBQ – where the men gathered… Nice stache Dad!

A large barbeque was built where the men took turns adding wood, and turning the meat.  They talked about the ‘olden days’ and what was to come.  Looking back at the photos I see a lot of short shorts, plaid shirts & tube socks supervising that fire next to the mimosa tree. 

The masses have arrived...

The masses have arrived…

Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church

Grandma has always been a faithful member of the Calvary Baptist Church in Gridley and on Sunday we all dressed up and attended church with her.  This is a tradition that each visitor has done for as long as I can remember.  I’m pretty sure that church was at full capacity that weekend.  I do remember enjoying listening to them all sing together… and not understanding why Grandma didn’t just sing the melody?  I’m pretty sure that my kids wonder the same thing about me when I sing alto at church!  They will understand one of these days.

The cousins with their parents...  we don't look especially happy!

The cousins with their parents… we don’t look especially happy! Notice our dirty little clothes… he he he…

To this day, when gathered, family members continue to talk about that summer reunion back in ’82…  I think probably because we had such a wonderful turn out!  

In 2007, my husband and I thought that it would be great fun to head out to Arkansas for the reunion to be held that summer…  it was quite a road trip!  We arrived in Mount Ida, Arkansas and fell in love with the beauty of the area!  They had a Dairyette, just like our Gridley Ice Burgie, so we felt right at home!  Grandma flew out to meet us with my aunt and cousin, some other relatives drove down from Ohio, and several family members still lived in the same town!

Game time on the lawn...

Game time on the lawn…

We got to hang out, play games, and eat at yummy restaurants that served biscuits with chocolate gravy!  A lot like when we were kids… but not quite as dirty!

The boys quickly went to work getting dirty!

The boys quickly went to work getting dirty!

I think that it’s pretty incredible some of the traditions that we’ve managed to continue for the past half century… definitely a testament to the commitment to family, near and far. 

Playing in the creek with their new cousins!

My boys playing in the creek with their new cousins!

 

Sitting around talking...

Sitting around talking…

 

Grandma with her sister...

Grandma with her sister…

 Now, conveniently, Mike’s family is from a town, quite near where we went… it’s called Waldron, Arkansas, and as we headed back to California we had to make an early morning stop by the sign announcing the town of his father’s family.

Waldron, Arkansas

Waldron, Arkansas

 

 

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