All In The Family

In August 1997, along with my local relatives, I co-hosted the 43rd annual Huguely Family Reunion held in Columbia, Maryland, just south of Baltimore. Originally designed as a Sunday afternoon picnic on a Madison County, Kentucky farm in 1955, this planned five-day reunion, August 6th-10th, was the longest in duration thus far, as well as the furthest eastward. A vast majority of the previous 42 reunions had been held in the five core cities along Interstate-75 (I-75): Richmond, Lexington, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Detroit. Since our planning team, comprised of my uncle, aunt, and two of their three children, wanted this to be a reunion like no other, under my uncle’s IBM-trained tutelage, we began meeting on a monthly basis in January 1996, recording meeting minutes and assigning action items along the way. Man, we were serious!!! Yet, lots of laughing, joking, fellowshipping, and EATING transpired at these meetings. In fact, during one meeting, we took a break halfway through to attend an art exhibition nearby of my cousin’s friend, where we all purchased autographed prints. Each of us also took on special pet projects. Mine was updating/automating the ~1,350-member family tree using first-generation genealogy software. The very busy (sound familiar?) five-day itinerary included: The White House, Arlington National Cemetery, FBI Building, Air and Space Museum, American History Museum, Museum of Natural History, Vietnam War Memorial, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Great Blacks In Wax Museum, Atlantic City Casinos & Boardwalk, Golf, Banquet & Dance, and Business Meeting. Yet, in my mind, at least, there was still something lacking, which I’ll discuss later… Family members from the five core cities, as well as from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, and Charlotte began arriving that Tuesday evening. Upon their arrival at the host hotel, they were greeted by the Welcoming Committee and given beautiful, elegant hand-crafted welcome baskets prepared by my cousin. For the local tours to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, we had two chartered buses full of kinfolk. I took personal pride in acknowledging that the Detroit Cobbs, including my parents, all six siblings, three in-laws, and six nieces & nephews – 17 in all – showed up en masse! Every activity on the rather full schedule turned out great, and at the end each day, family members chilled out and continued fellowship in the hospitality suite. For my part, having completed my pet project, the walls were populated with of all 13 branches of the Huguely Family Tree (double-sized) wrapped around the room, along with a binder version at a desk where family members could search for their names in the directory, then find their names on the wall. It was very emotional for the older folks… On that Friday night, having a rented van all gassed up at my disposal, and wishing to whet my Jazz appetite, I solicited family members who’d be interested in checking out Blues Alley with me, back in Washington, D.C., only 33 miles away. I was able to corral more than a few kinfolk to see the great, innovative Jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, appearing solo to a nearly sold-out late show audience. His unique style, technique, and sound from tapping the strings on the guitar neck with the fingers on his right hand came as a total surprise to my companions (as with most first time around). I’d been a huge fan of Stanley Jordan since his first Blue Note album, “Magic Touch”, in 1986. The overall set was outstanding and made for great conversation during the return trip back to the hotel. That Saturday, an article titled, “Huguely family holds 43rd annual reunion”, appeared in The Baltimore Afro-American weekly newspaper. The banquet program that evening included an amazing 140-slide presentation by my aunt titled, “The Matthew and Amie Huguely Family of Madison County, Kentucky”, the patriarch and matriarch, respectfully. After consumption of delightful, delectable, and palette-tingling food & drink, it was high time to cut a rug, shake a leg, dos-à-dos, and party like it’s 1999!!! On Sunday morning, after the prayer service and business meeting (yes, we handled our business!), folks returned home… and we all took very long naps!!! My Detroit family convened briefly at my home before bidding fond farewells. They especially made me proud! Our five-day Huguely Family Reunion proved the old adage that “a family that plays (and prays) together stays together.” In a Jazz vein, the same can be said for the Jones, Heath, Adderley, Bryant, Farmer, Turrentine, Clayton, Marsalis, and Eubanks families, just to name a few… :v)