For the Independent
When the Swinney family had a reunion on Labor Day, family members wanted to make it special.
Tom Trivette suggested re-creating a picture of the last reunion, which was 50 years earlier.
The idea came to him when he stumbled upon paper sacks of old pictures of his family from past reunions. He knew re-creating the photographs from the 1962 reunion “sounded like a heck of a lot of fun.” Trivette said he felt it would be a great opportunity to see family members he hadn’t seen in 50 years and others he only saw at funerals.
Around 50 attended this year’s reunion at Best Western River Cities and almost all living relatives who were at the 1962 reunion were present. Relatives came from Florida, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina and Louisiana to take part.
Some activities this year, such as playing yard games and sharing memories, were similar to those in 1962. However, this year Trivette gave a presentation in which he discussed the genealogy of the Swinney family and their spouses. He spoke of their ancestors’ Appalachian heritage and the hardships his grandparents faced raising nine children. He even gave each family member a flashdrive of the presentation.
The reunion in 1962 was at Trivette’s aunt, Belva Stewart’s house. Stewart said she was “tickled to death” when she heard there would be another reunion. She said she loved seeing the young ones and their excitement upon meeting the older family members they had never seen before. “You wouldn’t believe the happiness,” she said.
Her favorite part of the reunion this year was when the family went to the same spot in her yard where they took the picture in 1962 and recreated that image with the living relatives. They even had the adults stand in the same places where they stood in the original picture.
She also was appreciative of the great job Trivette did in organizing the family’s genealogy.
“It was so interesting to hear about the history,” she said, noting Trivette told some stories about their ancestors that many of the family members had never heard. Stewart said she was grateful she had the chance to see the whole family again and said this was an experience she will never forget.
Belva’s daughters, Kim Stewart Lynch and Cheryl Swain, were in charge of providing lunch for the family.
Lynch said she loved talking to her cousins and sharing stories and memories. Her only regret was they didn’t have the reunion before her mother’s eight siblings had died. She said she hopes the family can have another reunion in five years and that future reunions will be in different states, making travel easier for family members.
After the reunion, family members called Trivette to thank him for all the work he put into organizing the reunion. Trivette said he enjoyed every minute of it.
Family members hope this reunion will inspire generations to come to continue the tradition of having family reunions and maybe even re-create this year’s photograph 50 years from now.
MORGAN CANTY is a senior at Paul G. Blazer High School who is working as a co-op with The Independent.