Showing posts with label Ida Mae Specker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ida Mae Specker. Show all posts

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Family Fourth

July 4th, circa 1900, probably near Westmoreland, NY.  My grandmother is the young girl seated in a chair near the center of the front row.
My grandmother, Millie Stebbins, born Westmoreland, NY, 1888
The surviving grandchildren of Millie Stebbins Holmes, 4th of July celebration, 2017, in Londonderry, Vermont. Shown L-R: Barbara Coombs Conner; Laura (Laurie) Kinsley Drinkwater; Katherine (Katie) Kinsley Healey; Royal (Tad) Kinsley; Mary Coombs Cafarelli. (The eldest granddaughter, my sister Ruth Ann Coombs Longley, died in 2013.)

Some of the great-grandchildren of Millie Holmes on the Kinsley side.

Ida Mae Specker

L-R: Randy Longley, elder son of  our late sister, Ruth Ann Coombs Longley, with Rebecca, Jeanine, and Mary Coombs Cafarelli.

My cousin Tad has owned Jake's Restaurant and Tavern in Londonderry, Vermont, since he was 22 years old.

Londonderry is a small town, and as in many communities in America, lots of folks come out for the annual Fourth of July parade. 

Tad usually hosts a post-parade bash at his restaurant and invites extended family to join the fun, this year once again with the live music of Ida Mae Specker.

On this parade day, all five surviving cousins were there, the grandchildren of Millie Stebbins Holmes. Our mothers, Henrietta Holmes Coombs and Jane Holmes Kinsley, were sisters, close in age and strong of will. All three of these women - grandmother, mother, aunt - had a great influence on us all.  We did a lot of remembering this weekend. 

By the time one reaches the ages we cousins are now, we have all endured some worries and bumps and blips and sadness. But these are the folks that you don't have to explain all that to. They know all about it and they love you and you love them right back. (My cousin Tad gives a world-class hug, by the way. He should bottle it and sell it.)

The tumult of the world right now, the sense of uneasiness that seems to hang over us all, makes a small town patriotic celebration all the more poignant. 

I think our mothers and grandmother would be ever so pleased to know that we cousins and siblings still feel the strength and comfort of the shelter of each other.

Happy Fourth of July, my dears. May our extended, blended families continue to celebrate together in small towns across America for another 117 years. 



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Small Town Fourth of July, Londonderry, Vermont, 2015

My cousin Tad owns the only pub in Londonderry, Vermont. So when he invited us to come over for the Fourth of July weekend, I figured it would be a lively time.
Despite the rain, the good folks of Londonderry put on a patriotic parade that was emblematic of all that is wonderful about small town living.
 From a decked-out miniature horse (who turned out to be very sweet when I met him later) ...
 ... to honoring the town's oldest citizen, Londonderry had it covered.
 The rain was heavy at times, but people braved the elements and remained happily standing along the parade route.
 There were lots of flags and ....
 ... talented pipers and ...
 ... other cheerful musicians of all sorts.
 Junk is good. I was quite taken by Junking Johnson's float, below.
It's Vermont. Why not celebrate recycling?
And always a favorite, the firefighters and their trucks. Here, as in so many small towns, these men and women are volunteers. God bless them all.
It is my cousin's good fortune that every year, the parade ends in his restaurant's parking lot. Truly. So Tad books a band and has pizza and hot dogs and free watermelon all ready to go. Here above is Tad's niece Sarah, our cousin Laurie's daughter, helping to serve food to the hungry crowd. In the dining room, they were doing regular lunch and dinner service, as well. It was a busy place.
This year, the band was a local bluegrass group of  Ida Mae Specker (vocals, fiddle, washboard) and Faith Wood (guitar, vocals) and Rio Mueller on washtub bass. Sitting in with them was John Specker, father of Ida Mae, on fiddle and banjo. They were terrific. Check out Ida Mae's Facebook page.
You could hardly have squeezed another soul into the audience. The place was packed.
 Those who found no room inside hung out on the deck under tarps and canopies. The rain didn't seem to bother them.
 We managed to score seats at the bar. Here is my Handsome Husband with my cousin Laurie.
And here is Mr. Fourth of July himself, my cousin Tad, proprietor of Jake's.  He was up cooking breakfast for us at the restaurant this morning, despite a very long day yesterday. If you ever find yourself in Londonderry, you should check out Jake's. Their website is here and they also have a Facebook page. Please tell Tad his cousin Barbara sent you.
On our way home today, it seemed fitting for Independence Day weekend that we make a quick stop at the Bennington Battlefield on Route 67 in Walloomsac, NY.
This State Historic Site is the location of a Revolutionary War battle between the British forces of General John Burgoyne and Colonel Friedrich Baum against the American forces under Brigadier General John Stark and Colonel Seth Warner. 
It was a peaceful place today but in August of 1777,  British troops were trying to capture American storehouses in Bennington to restock their depleting provisions.                   
 The British forces had underestimated the strength of their enemy and most of their men were killed or taken prisoner. The Americans sustained smaller losses. 

Blooming milkweed, ripening berries, and shy deer now live where brave men once fought and died for their respective countries. I think it is a good thing to remember this once in a while, after all of the sparklers and fireworks and watermelon. 

Let us have peace. 

Find more information about the Bennington Battlefield  here