The Benson Family Reunion was started by my dad and his six siblings many years ago when I was just a kid. I recall how my siblings and I looked forward to that special summer day.
We never knew where it was going to be held as the venue changed from year to year. Often times it was held in Palomar, Idyllwild, the beach, or Fairmount Park in Riverside. Family members arrived from all over California; some even came from as far away as Arizona and Oregon. The out-of- towners came for the weekend or even took their vacation around reunion time and camped out for a week or two. It was exciting to see our aunts, uncles, and cousins again.
Fairmount Park in Riverside became the kids’ favorite venue in later years. This was because there was so much to do such as paddle boat rentals, miniature railroad rides, fishing, Ferris Wheel, and a Merry-Go-Round. This was a wonderful family-gathering site until, years later, it became unsafe and a haven for transients.
Fast forward to the years when I had children of my own, and we still looked forward to that special summer day of the Benson Family Reunion. This particular year, my daughter, Tracy, must have been all of three or four years old. We were busy unloading the car, lugging the food and other paraphernalia necessities to the picnic site, as well as hugging and greeting relatives along the way.
Suddenly, I asked “Where’s Tracy?” Everyone stopped what he was doing and went on a hunt for her. After too much worrisome time lapsed, I was relieved to hear someone say “Here she is.”
I hurried to the area where she was. There was Tracy having a gay old time sitting at the head of the table on the lap of a black grandma and eating her chicken. She didn’t want to leave; she had found a comfortable lap and some good food. They didn’t mind, so she stayed there until the lure of another activity attracted her.
Fast forward yet again, as a matter of fact to just recently, and Tracy is now 53. I asked her about that day. Although I had mentioned the incident many times over the years, she did not remember it at all. But she did say, “Well, mom, that chicken was probably a whole lot tastier than what we had at our potluck table.” She was probably right!
My memory was brought back to that very special, long-ago summer day, and both of us got a good chuckle out of it.
Sharon Benson Smith is a member of the writing class offered through the Cerritos College Education Program. It is held off-campus at the Norwalk Senior Center.