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Our Brother/Sister Weekend

By Donna June (Almy) Boudreaux


Recently in conversation a sister and I decided our story should be told to encourage other families to be as thankful as we have been for our annual get together. The beginning for us being who we are, was when both sets of grandparents homesteaded near Minot, ND about 1900. Our parents were babies at the time. Dad was born Martin Dewey Almy (#1233-4668-13) June 4, 1898 in Forest, Ohio. Mother was born Edna Ruth Bailey, Aug. 4, 1899 in Indiana. They married in Minot, ND in 1920 and started their family of 8 children in 1921 with Clara Jane, Harold Dewey, Chester Franklin, Vernon Lewis, Erma Jean, Donna June, Betty Jo and Robert Gerald in 1937. They lived in Ohio, back to ND, then MN and their last move in 1946 was to WA State. Mother died in 1967. It was after Dad died Dec. 28, 1982 that our special weekend began.

We had the good fortune of growing up in a large family that took advantage of any holiday or family event to have a potluck. There were other Almy and Bailey families living in WA. As the families grew there could be 75 folks at any gathering. After Dad quit raising turkeys he converted the brooder house into a party house. After Mother died special events have often been at a pavilion in a park.

When Dad died there were many papers to sort through as well as suitcases of pictures, starting in their youth. Chester lived in MN and I lived in CO but the rest have lived fairly close to each other in WA and Clara Jane across the border in OR. In May 1983, the six of them, along with their spouses, spent a whole weekend at Betty Jo and Lou's house to sort the papers and pictures. How I wish I had been there. I know that while they got the job done it was a weekend of non-stop talking and laughter, and yes, even tears. Was then they decided to take turns hosting an annual weekend.

There have been so many changes in the past 20 yrs. The only time Chester attended, we were at Bob (Robert) and Carols home. Chester died of cancer in 1993. At first I didn't go every year. About two weeks after the weekend in 1987 Erma Jeans husband Ferd died unexpectedly. My husband Leo said I would go every year from then on. Vernon's good nature never changed in spite of a long-term lung illness. Then he died of cancer in July 1997, on one of his daughter's birthday. His sense of humor stayed to the end. Clara Jane gave us a scare this summer but surgery took care of her cancer. Harold has had a battle with parkinsons for a few years now. Really hard for him and Beth.

We've lost two of our brothers and three brothers in law but we've been blessed with the addition of Betty Jo's husband Doug Croft and Erma Jean's husband Evan Miller and Vernon's widow Jeannie, married Wayne Behrns. We are so glad they are a part of our family. Twice before Vernon died they came to our home in CO. In 1999, most of us attended the annual weekend in CA at Jeannie and Wayne's home. A year ago Leo and I moved to FL. Last May we drove 5 days to WA. Was well worth it. Erma Jean and Evan have a large home and are hosts for many family events now.

Working around every ones schedule, we have kept most of our weekends in May. All homes aren't big enough so sleeping arrangements have included neighbor's bedrooms, Rvs and summer cabins. Sunday's potluck lunch includes all children and grand children that can make it. One time a cousin joined us for the whole weekend. Most common is three conversations going on at the same time, in the kitchen. Time always passes too quickly.

P.S. Many of you know my Uncle Floyd Almy and his sons Don and Lorraine, Gary and Margie. Also you have read the trip to Alaska, written by Barbara, daughter of my brother Harold.

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