My mother grew up with four sisters and a brother on a farm near Geddes, South Dakota. We spent many holidays and vacations on that farm with Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Lois, Uncle Mel and cousin Wally. Aunt Mary and Uncle Albert lived nine miles north in Geddes. Their daughter, cousin Betty and her husband, Babe, are there now. I had not been back since my mother’s funeral in 2005. I should say, I had not been back physically because my memories take me back quite often. America in the 1950’s was a very special time. Childhood makes everything rosier. My rosy memories were not milking cows, collecting eggs, riding horses to count cattle, opening gates or pitching hay. I was not cut out to be a farmer. My cousin Wally was. He and his son Jay, still run the family farm, aka “The Farm.”
What is special about The Farm, aside from the people, is the place. It is very productive farm land that becomes more rolling as you near the Missouri River. The farm is about five miles from the river, where we fished, swam, boated and where I learned to water ski. In South Dakota you really experience nature (yes, hunting) and the seasons. When growing up there, that all seemed inevitable, but now that I have lived in a New York City apartment for thirty years, I know it is not.
My mother’s generation is all gone. I am the youngest of my cousins. In the spring, Ruby–the wife of my cousin Wally–was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was a shock. She was in her 70’s, but this was much too soon. Ruby was so vibrant. She made this world a better place.
It was time to return. I wanted to see everyone again and see how the place that loomed so large in my memories had changed or remained as I remembered.
When I was in college, I had learned that the time to visit was over Memorial Day weekend. Geddes, like most small towns, continues to come together on this holiday and honor those who have served in the U. S. military. It is a tradition that just doesn’t exist in larger towns. I have done this about four times. Families gather. The women provide food at the school or community center. People return, like myself, from all over America. It is very Norman Rockwell. Lots of memories. Or as we say in SoDak, a great time to “swap lies.”
Unexpectedly, the best part of this trip was meeting the next generation–my cousins’ children, grandchildren and their families. I have the skeptical eye of one from Gotham, but I feel a real connection to this place and these people. It might be that everyone has those feelings about their childhood home and roots, but that is grist for another blog post.
I didn’t do any drawing. I took photos and video. I have been using my iPod Touch for making photos and video. It is a style I want to develop. Fast and impromptu. I wouldn’t say this has been all that successful. The time was so short– four days. And connecting with my family was more important. But I do want to share and express it. But how?
This page using Flickr Albums is my first solution. This is because you can embed both photo and video in the Flickr albums. But I don’t think this solution will stick. Check back. I will post notice here of my other attempts.