In August last year I posted several photos on a blog post of my maternal grandfather Thomas Mcloughlin and his brothers. The meme for Sepia Saturday that week was photos of men in striped trousers or neckties or suspenders. Little did I know when I posted that photo what would unfold as a consequence. It really was the ideal cousin-bait though it wasn't really pre-meditated as such. I put the wrong names of the brothers under the photos and boy ! didn't that drag the cousins in ! ;)
Lovely new-to-me cousins Marilyn and Mary-Ann came to my rescue and put me on the straight and narrow as to which brother was which - bless them. And then the idea for a family reunion was born. Marilyn generously hosted it last weekend and I flew down to New South Wales to meet some of the cousins.
I have never been to a family reunion before and so I was a bit perplexed as to what to take. I had a 7 kilo hand-luggage allowance with Virgin so packing had to be carefully considered.
Of course I took my trusty Flip Pal scanner.
I also took a digital camera as well as my phone and an Archive box of photos and other mementos like funeral cards and ration cards.
I decided not to take certificates, figuring I could share those later via Dropbox.
I also threw in some Family Group Sheets, a Descendant chart of sorts, pencils, a sharpener and an eraser.
Leaving Brisbane was a bit of an exercise because of the G20. I had to catch a train to the airport as most of the city was shutdown. The train stopped at Milton while police got on and inspected bags. They walked straight past me which was just as well really as I didn't want to have to unpack my very tightly packed port.
There were lots of people leaving Brisbane that day to get away from it all. Plenty of them were amused to have their photo taken at the mock G20 lectern near the terminal. Those photos are sure to confuse their descendants for many years to come!
We were more than a bit excited to see U.S. Airforce planes on the runway as we taxied for take off.
When I got to Newcastle I found half the plane was going to see The Rolling Stones in the Hunter Valley. Oh well - I'd seen them before!
The day was just lovely. Marilyn and Rob had put in so much effort to make everyone comfortable. There was a marquee outside with plenty of tables and chairs. Some younger folk camped outside that night whilst older folk were pampered inside.
The afternoon was a bit breezy so whilst we started to try and look at photos etc at the beginning, we were forced to leave it til later when we would be indoors so they didn't blow away.
Over cake and coffee, there was much sucking of teeth as we tried to identify people in photos. There were cries of recognition as we shared prints of the same photo - some with helpful identification on the back.
Mary Ann had brought the family Bible to show me which was very impressive.
Marilyn had some folders with descendant charts which were fantastic and I was able to take photos of them. Other family members did their best to fill in the blanks on my descendant chart which was also great. Marilyn also had a book about the RAAF in WW2 (featuring a segment written by Frank McLoughlin - my grandfather's younger brother) which looked really interesting. I have accordingly updated my Want list on Abebooks.
My grandfather was the eldest of nine children. One of the first people to greet me was my mother's first cousin Kerry (Jack's son) which was pretty special - I remember her talking about him a lot. Jack had the photographic studio in Drummoyne and I think she wished she had spent more time studying photography. My mother certainly loved arranging portraits of people and taking photos.
Of the nine siblings, I got to meet descendants of three - Jack, Joe and Patrick. There were about 24 of us altogether which was really more than enough for me to try and remember who was who in the zoo and begin to get to know people.
Everyone was very kind and said lovely things about my grandfather - their uncle. I learned his nickname was Goz - because he used to say "God's Truth" quite a bit apparently. I learned that he was always laughing - which is good to hear. And that he loved books. And that he gave nephews and nieces great presents.
I also found out that the McLoughlins possess musical talent - one played the sax and trumpet, another piano and others guitar. Here is a photo of the music book that Mary-Ann brought to show which was handed down from generation to generation.
I also learned that they are pretty clever and very kind. It was kind of wonderful to see so many people with blue eyes. My mother had hazel eyes so I never thought of her side of the family as being blue-eyed. My father has blue eyes so I always thought I got them from him. I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember what colour eyes Tom had, but they must have been blue.
The next day dawned with people heading off in all directions to various gigs or other gatherings. There was a mad scramble to verify whose phone cable and charger belonged to whom, not to mention hard drive. A lesson for us all - label your cables etc!
We're already talking about our next reunion and I can't wait til we catch up again.
Thank you McLoughlins - you're swell - God's truth!
Addendum - if you look closely at the list of music from Mary-Ann's book there's a song called We Won't Go Home til morning....sounds a bit like a Family Reunion doesn't it?