It was in July. I’m sure of that, but not the actual date. The first Colvert-McNeely family reunion. We gathered in Statesville, of course, where my grandmother Margaret and her sisters Louise and Launie Mae were born and grew up. The reunion called not only their descendants, but those of their older half-sisters, Mattie and Golar, and their maternal McNeely kin. I was 14 that summer and not much interested in anyone more than three or four years older than I. Nor had I been seized with the unquenchable genealogical fervor that would light me up a decade later . So I lounged around the hotel pool and wasted opportunities that year, and subsequent, to winnow every broad hint and slender clue from the ever-waning recollections of my elders. My great-aunt Louise, who lived in Statesville all her life and probably knew the most. My great-great-aunt Min, last of the McNeely siblings. The “other” Colverts, cousins and children of my great-grandfather’s half-sisters — were they even there? I’d been surprised to learn later that some were living in 1978. (They were not much spoken of. Was there a rift?) Who was in Statesville that summer? Whom did I miss?
The last day. Or maybe the first. My uncle John’s wife Gladys, my mother, my grandmother (in curlers — she would not approve of this post), my uncle John, an unknown man (a Colvert? a McNeely? who?), my mother’s first cousin Donald, my aunt Lynne, my father. Statesville, 1978.