It’s a Small World After All

My maternal grandparents had four daughters; Shirley, Elaine, Arlys and Margie (my mom.) I’m going to tell you a little bit about Elaine and her family.

Elaine was married to Ben and they made a living as farmers in the town of New Richmond, Wisconsin (which is about a forty minute drive from where I now live in Minnesota.) Ben and Elaine lived in a modest two-story home on the farm. Their little yellow house sat just off of a quiet, rural road. Just across the road was another, older farmhouse. In the farmhouse lived Ben’s Brother Keith and his wife, Lois. Together, Ben and Keith ran the farm that had been passed on to them by their father.

I have fond memories of visiting Aunt Elaine and Uncle Benji’s farm. The barn fascinated me. So did the cows that lived inside, even if I was a little bit scared of them. Sometimes my cousins (one of them the one who remembers me as a “little shit”) would take us up into the loft and show us how to climb the hay bales and find hiding places among the stacks of bales. I loved the country feeling of their town and home. Everything seemed quieter and more relaxed, as if time was standing still for a little while. I was used to city life, so being on the farm was a whole new experience for me.

Uncle Benji passed away several years ago, but Aunt Elaine still lives in the house where they raised their family. Much of the farmland has been sold off, and the area has become much more residential. It’s been years since I’ve been there. I’m not sure I’d even recognize it anymore.

Elaine and Benji had four kids; my cousins Brad, Chris (the only girl), Jeff and Greg. Chris now lives in the neighboring town of Star Prairie, Wisconsin and she is the one who organized the family reunion we attended yesterday which happened to be held at a park in Star Prairie.

After spending the better part of yesterday at the family reunion, we came home and headed over to our neighbors’ home for our friend, Bill’s 50th birthday party. (I know this seems like a total change in subject. Trust me. This is going somewhere.)

At Bill’s party, we met up with many friends and acquaintances, some of whom were the couples with whom we go on vacation to Bayfield, Wisconsin every August. We have been going to Bayfield with these same people for… I don’t know… six or seven years now. Dave and Julie make up one of those couples. We would not know Dave and Julie if we hadn’t met them through Bill and his wife, Tammy. (And just for the heck of it, let’s throw in the fact that Bill is originally from the state of New York.)

So…Dave was kind enough to give my Brad a job last summer and hired him back again this year, so the two of them were conversing at Bill’s party, when Brad called me over to the table where they sat.

“Mom, tell Dave about your cousin who lives in Star Prairie,” he asked.

I gave him a questioning look and Dave explained, “Julie is from Star Prairie!” I found that amazing, as Star Prairie is a very small town.

So I proceeded to briefly tell Dave that some of my family are from New Richmond and one of my cousins has lived in Star Prairie for years.

“What’s their last name,” he asked?

When I told him, his eyes got wide and he called Julie over to the table, saying, “Terri has a cousin in Star Prairie and also has family in New Richmond!”

Of course, then Julie wanted to know more, so I started to explain about Elaine and Benji and the farm in New Richmond.

Julie asked, “Wasn’t it a little yellow house?”

“Yes…,” I replied, now very curious that she was familiar.

“And across the road was another farmhouse? And behind the farmhouse was the barn?”

“Yes….”

“And the man who lived in the farmhouse closest to the barn was Keith, right?”

“You know them,” I exclaimed!

“Yes, my aunt was married to Keith,” she proclaimed.

So all of these years that I have known Dave and Julie, it has escaped our notice that Julie’s uncle was the brother of my uncle.

It really is a very small world, isn’t it?

I just find that amazing!

Well, anyway… how about some pictures from the family reunion which I stole from my sister’s Facebook page?

Shirley, Arlys, Elaine and Mom

Second cousin Jen, Shirley, Arlys, Elaine, cousin Debbie, me, cousin Brad

My sister, Cory, cousin Greg (who dubbed me a "little shit") and me

My nephew & godson, Josh and my Brad

Mark and nephew, Alec.

Bean bag toss!

Can’t wait for the next reunion!

11 thoughts on “It’s a Small World After All

  1. Terri -The more I read your blog, the more I become convinced that we either were related in another life or somehow or other, we are related in this life! Like you, I love “Small World” stories. Like the golden wedding celebration I attended at our church last month for a couple from our parish who had lived for many years outside of Pittsburgh and moved back here within the past 10 years or so now. I met a lady at that party who had been a friend of theirs when they lived in Pittsburgh area and in talking, learned that she had graduated from high school with my oldest cousin’s husband! Plus my cousins all had had her father for a math teacher too in high school! Gotta love small world stuff, for sure!
    Peace. And on to the next reunion, right?

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  2. The bigger the family, the smaller the world. Life can be funny like that. It is great to see that the family gathered together and having fun. I think our last reunion 10+ years ago we decided to wear nametags as half the people had changed/gotten married. Looks like the weekend was a blast.

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  3. I love those types of coincidences! Good stuff. I’m surprised you didn’t run into each up at the farm during the summer. I wonder why you didn’t??

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  4. During my one semester of college near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I became acquainted with the young lady who sat next to me in my Speech class. We weren’t terribly close friends but we’d chat sometimes before class started and developed the kind of acquaintanceship where we’d say hello and/or wave when we saw each other around campus.

    One day before class I had my wallet out for some reason and, girls being as they are, she got excited and wanted to look through the pictures I still carried. She flipped through the pictures of the dog and the cats, my brother, my sister’s senior picture. And then she flipped to the next picture, my aunt and uncle, cousins and grandparents, who lived in Denver, Colorado, and she exclaimed, “How do you know Dave and Loretta?”

    I looked at her shocked and asked, “How do YOU know Dave and Loretta?” Turns out, her mother was my aunt’s best friend, they lived right around the corner from my aunt, their families spent a lot of time together and she used to babysit my cousins frequently.

    We had been in this class together for a couple months, making idle conversation and one day out of the blue we made this remarkable discovery!

    It really is a small, small world… after all. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) :)

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  5. It’s amazing to see who knows who. I come from a small town myself, so I’ve run into this before as well. It’s crazy.

    The reunion looks like a great time. You sis did well with the pics.

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