My 2 Seconds Of Fame
I have all the cookbooks
I have seen all the episodes of everything she has done on Food Network since she had her first show.
I'm not a big fan of Paula's Party but I tune in once in a while.
The Gregory family, originally from Oklahoma, came to Oregon during the depression to work in the lumber mills. Stories are told about how they left “home” setting off to a better place, a place with less dust and more jobs. They picked cotton along the way, often stopping and camping for weeks at a time along the side of the highway to earn money before being able to move on.
Hard times and each other is all they had when they arrived. Summers in the Oregon coastal communities where they eventually settled were humid and hot, and meager in both amenities and food. But with those original Gregory’s, came stamina, and a zest for life and each other. And it was these characteristics that began our annual gatherings and which still bring us together seventy years later. Six children of the original Oregon Gregory settlers are still with us today and still attend each annual reunion.
In the beginning years they met on a Sunday, at someone’s home. There were yard games, men chatting about the economy (I think we have come full circle since those days), fishing, ladies chatting and sharing recipes, and lots of good old’ Okie food. Later they moved the annual event to a local park, one with water so the kids could splash and play, and cool off. After several years they moved the reunion to a park inland about 50 miles where they gathered the first Sunday in August for the next 30-some years. Eventually it grew into a weekend of camping and it remains so today. The meeting place has changed a few times in the last twenty years but the reason hasn’t: Family and Food!
Each year members of our extended family begin arriving as early as Wednesday or Thursday prior to official reunion weekend. They come from Arizona, California, Washington, Idaho and from all over Oregon. They show up in motor homes, travel trailers and tents, with kids, dogs, and friends in tow. Some of our non-campers stay at the local hotels which are all within walking distance of the park. We rent the entire lower half of the park down by the river. Many of us have not seen or talked to each other for a full year so we have designated Friday night the official opening of the weekend and we do so with Wine and Hors d'oeuvres, better known amongst us Gregory’s as “Cocktail Hour”. Everyone brings their favorite new wine and some munchies to accompany their wine choice. Ice cold beer is usually on standby as well.
Saturday is the day of the actual picnic where a Potluck Extravaganza takes place. Early in the day there is a caravan to the local farm on the other side of the river to see what is available. Corn on the cob, green beans, peaches, or onions is always the first choice with the Gregory family. Whatever is fresh and available will be one of the highlights at the potluck.
Dinner is served at 2pm sharp (my grandmother pretty much keeps everyone on schedule) and people start lining up with plates and forks in hand at 1:30pm. My Dad and Uncle Ron have been known to just keep a fork in their shirt pocket in case someone walks by with something on their plate that needs to be sampled. Quality Control they call it. Over the years we’ve integrated table-top bar-b-ques and the gents serve up bbq’d hamburgers and hotdogs while the ladies fill in the rest.
I can honestly, and proudly, say that the Gregory Family Reunion is totally centered on food! Yes, we are all good down- home-cookin’ foodies! There are recipes that have been brought every year time and time again. Rosemary Gregory always brings fresh tomatoes and watermelon from California. My Aunt Jewel makes the best desserts, and Cousin Carrie always brings something from her Grandmother’s recipe collection in honor of her Grandma who is my Grandma’s sister. Two years ago I was honored with my grandmother giving me her recipe box and she now calls me weeks before the picnic and tells me what to fix. She’s already planning on what I should bring and this year it’s her carrot cake. Last year it was Sauerkraut Salad which was a hit and has been requested again this year. Cousin Angie is putting together a cookbook of all the recipes we can gather from the Gregory families, past and present. It should be fun!
During the weekend some of us will fish at the nearby river, the little ones will ride their bikes around camp, some of us will nap, others will move their folding chairs around following the sun in search of a little tan and almost always the adults will engage in a water gun fight with the youth. Because the park we gather at is just minutes from an Indian casino, each evening after dark a group of us will head up there for some partaking of the casino festivities… if you know what I mean!
For two-and-a-half days we sit around listening to the elders tell the stories of reunions past, stories of the hard times, and who is related to who and how. We catch up on what each family has been doing for the past year and there is always a family group photo to mark the end of another year.
On Sunday morning everyone begins packing up to head home, but not before there is a recipe exchange over coffee and left over desserts. We promise to send everyone the pictures we have each taken with our cameras and vow to be back again next year. And then, as quickly as it came, it is over, with hugs and long embraces, and a wave goodbye.
I am enclosing a link to photos of past reunions for your viewing. It’s not fancy but we have a good time and I can’t imagine not attending. It’s something my husband and I plan on, and around, all year long. The three generations of girls in my family (myself and my cousins) are enormous fans of Paula Deen. We have been following her since she first appeared on “Door Knocker Dinners”. We have visited Lady and Son’s, bought all the cookbooks, cried through her wedding and the birth of her grandson Jack. We would be honored if she or people from her staff would like to attend our reunion. There will certainly be enough food and drink for all of you!
The Hubs let me think I was the bomb around here for a couple days then he informed me that if by some freak accident I got famous I would still be responsible for cleaning out the cat box and getting laundry done.
Nothing like family to keep you grounded.
I'm working on something that I'm going to start featuring on my blog each week.
I need everyone's help.
Gather up your favorite recipes that you like to make and share.
Casseroles, Crockpot, salad and desserts
I need you to start sending them to me.
If you have pictures of the dish, you making the dish, or the empty dish after you make it...........send them to me too along with the recipe.
Mark your calendars it's coming up