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Just when you thought, even hoped, that it would never happen again, it is time to start planning for the next reunion.
Margaret and Vic were our hosts last year. They left town immediately after the reunion, claiming that the timing of their move was just a coincidence. The last I heard they were holed up in a cave in the badlands of New Mexico.
As usual, we were supremely graced by the absence of several disreputable Richardson individuals living in Ohio who have never attended a single reunion. (As I have stated before, I do not wish to embarrass Bill Henry by mentioning any names, or by pointing out that he is the only original Richardson who has never shown his face at any reunion.) I asked several people if they had heard from these no-good people, seeing as how they had not replied to any of the notices, or even returned their family information sheets. (The truth must be far too shameful for even them to admit.) The Hell's Angels have a rather unique reproach for people who fall asleep at their parties and I felt it was only fair that we also have a similar reproach for people who consistently fail to attend reunions for a solid decade.
I put out the word that I am interested in collecting, and publishing, stories from this individual's past which would show his most disgusting habits and complete lack of character. He moved his family away from the rest of us just about the time his kids were learning to talk so, no doubt, they have not heard the best part of this low-down, no-good individual's criminal career.
As soon as I put out the word for stories of this type, Louise Leard and Margaret Sweet immediately leapt to his defense saying that he is a very busy and important person (they don't have enough practice lying to make it sound believable) and they were sure there was some good reason why this low-down, no-good individual had missed every single reunion in the last ten years. Of course, this just illustrates my point about this individual's character.
How low must one sink before Margaret and Louise come to your defense? (They have never defended my good character, or come to the defense of any Morris that I can recall.) They both proclaimed with the loudness of an incompetent liar that this individual had always been of sterling character and that there were no terrible tales to tell from his childhood. They were so loud, in fact, that I could not catch most of the details of the stories Don and Laurence were telling about him. I believe that Don may have gotten this individual mixed up with Herman Klomp in some of the stories but that's not important
It is a sad case indeed when Margaret and Louise are left to stick up for you. In any case, you should all know that I will be collecting the most embarrassing stories about this low-down, no-good individual and publishing them soon, so his family may know the complete truth about why he consistently fails to attend even a single family reunion.
Those of you who attended know that I passed around copies of Mary Taylor's Family History which I transcribed and printed out on the computer. I am not entirely sure who got copies so I have included some copies in this newsletter for the people who weren't there. (This, of course, includes the low-down, no-good Richardson individual from Ohio who has never attended a single family reunion.) If you did not receive a copy at the reunion, and I did not include one for you here, just drop me a line and I will send you a copy. It is a pretty interesting view of the family's history going back a couple of centuries, although some people have commented that Mary was rather "optimistic" in recounting the facts.
There was an unusually aggressive pack of grandparents at the reunion, all of them armed with a deadly arsenal of baby pictures. Margaret and Vic, having waited so long for their first two-footed grandchild, were perhaps the most vicious of the bunch. Margaret showed me some pictures of her and I had to admit that she is an incredibly beautiful child, with a sparkling personality, and possessed of talents that ordinary human beings can scarcely imagine. As soon as I did admit it, Margaret took her foot off my throat, Vic picked me up, dusted me off, and they both allowed as how they had always known that I was a gentleman of intelligence and good taste.
Margaret and Vic were apparently unable to persuade Julie to attend the reunion. Julie explained to me that, although she works at the LA Zoo, she has no direct experience with large primates. Julie puts on little shows at the LA Zoo where, among other things, she sings a duet with a coyote. (Really!) It's pretty interesting, but it must be said that the coyote has the distinctly better voice. Julie also raised a mountain lion in her home (how'd you like have this chick for a neighbor?). She said there was no problem at all as long as she had dinner ready on time and didn't make any sudden movements.
Dorothy showed up with that old tale about how she went to the hospital and the nurse wrote on her chart that she "looks at least ten years younger than her stated age." If you haven't heard that story yet, just get within fifty yards of her, and I am sure the subject of medical charts will come up soon enough. We will probably have to listen to that until she is at least ten years older than her stated age.
James pontificated quite a while about the problems of these United States and how he would solve them if he was king. Cut off some bodily part, he said, every time someone commits a crime. Lop off a hand, or an arm, or a foot, or something more valuable, he said. It's an interesting idea but, if that was really the law, his nickname would have been "Stubby" for many years now. In the interests of justice and fair play, he said he would not impose any penalties for anyone who chose to prevaricate. In fact, he said, that is one of the few areas where he thinks government subsidies would be justified.
James allows that some Richardsons, and perhaps a few Taylors, might have committed some minor variations from the absolute facts on rare occasions, but swears that he has never been known to tamper with the truth. I thought about that quite a while and then I had to admit that he was probably right. I could not recall any time that he had been close enough to the truth that he could have been accused of tampering with it.
Edna admits that her once-famous morals are gone. She says she saves her copies of the Reunion News.
Doug and Barbara were there with their delightfully comatose children. They recently made a trip with a motorcycle gang down to the tip of Baja where they frolicked with the mating whales, burned and pillaged a few mountain villages, participated in a few large drug shipments, and had many other exciting adventures. They came to visit us on the way back and took us out for a nice Mexican food dinner -- which is not always a good idea when a Leard is around. (I am sure we have all had an unfortunate adventure in that regard.)
"We didn't get the turistas near as bad as we thought we would!" Doug shouted through the bathroom door. I was glad.
Pete has had a busy year. He says that he is still winning foot races even at his advanced age, although he still hasn't explained why someone would want to deliberately run around in a circle just so they could get back to where they started before somebody else did. He says he went to some track meet back in Indianapolis where (he claims) he won the 400 and 800 meter races and placed second in the 1500, or some such nonsense. When this statement was greeted with some modest skepticism, he swore that it was true (his standard first reply) and said the low-down, no-good Richardson individual who lives in Ohio and has never attended even a single family reunion would verify everything he said. If two Richardsons swear to it, it's got to be true, Pete said. Alternatively, he offered to swear on a stack of family birth certificates.
As most of you already know (with the exception perhaps of certain low-down, no-good Richardson individuals living in Ohio who have never attended a single family reunion), Pete has taken a wife, Sandy. Sandy said she thinks his name is Paul and that what attracted her to Pete was his refined, gentlemanly manners. As you might expect, that caused a good deal of hilarity.
She is a Bohemian kind of person who wears funny clothes and calls herself an "artist" and a "designer", although she was a little fuzzy on just what it is she "designs". I was in her company for most of two days and she never did pass around any good drugs so there is some question about her artistic credentials. She does, however, like beer, and seems to be friendly even when she has had a few. She claimed to be a lady of refinement and good taste before I got the pictures of her with her head stuck in a watermelon. Most of us hadn't seen such a sight since James sold his livestock. She fits in pretty well.
David Leard did not attend this year. He sent me a Christmas card with a rather snide remark about how I must have learned my writing skills in jail -- a crack which was totally uncalled for considering all the nice things I have said about the Leards. David said that he was making huge sums of money in real estate but he sent no cash.
In a prepared statement, Louise Leard said that David's recent ventures in real estate had nothing at all to do with the failure of several savings and loans in the Seattle area and she was confident that the criminal investigations would exonerate him completely. She explained that David did not attend the reunion because one of his escrows did not close when it should have so he was not legally allowed to leave town. We all nodded like we believed everything she said.
Jerry was there promoting beer as the answer to a balanced diet. He swears that he cannot be recognized without a beer can in his hand. I recognized him immediately, but then the pile of beer cans had shifted and his head was sticking out.
Last year I received an invitation to Laurence and Wilma's wedding, of all things. Laurence and Wilma said they were inviting me to attend because I am "an important part" of their lives. I wondered a long time what they meant by that. Then I realized Laurence had to be talking about the time we all got drunk and trashed his apartment. When we left, Laurence was standing out on the balcony in his underwear, yelling something at us. If he had been sober enough to remember who we were, I am sure he would have made sense. It's times like those that make a family.
From what I could gather from the invitation, it seems that Laurence actually asked Wilma to marry him some twenty-five years ago or so, and it has taken this long to convince her that it is a good idea. He lies pretty good, but apparently not good enough to put that one across right away.
Ruthie and Tom were there. She wanted me to correct a minor misstatement that I made in a previous issue of the Reunion News. She said she wanted to make it clear that she did not send me a picture of Tom bound and gagged in the trunk of her car. Apparently it was some other guy.
Tom, who was pretty frisky the year before, looked a little tired at times, like someone who had just spent the last year as the only rooster in a ten acre hen house. Ruthie, on the other hand, says she loves married life. She explains that Tom is still in shock from the last reunion, which is certainly understandable. Maybe it was just more than he expected.
Joanne was there, and managed to wrestle a few of the other grandmothers to the ground to show them pictures of her accused grandchildren. She called me after the reunion with some grandiose scheme to lure unsuspecting men into joining a computer dating service. I don't know why she wanted it on a computer, it was pretty obvious which chick was going to get the date.
The last I heard, Joanne said her son, Laurence Kramer, was working as a taste-tester on an alfalfa farm in Nevada.
I asked Becky why Jamie has missed the last few reunions. She said that the reunions are usually scheduled the same week as the Gay Pride parade in San Francisco and Jamie goes to the parade instead of the reunion. That way, she says, she doesn't run into quite so many oddballs.
Don Morris says that Elinor does not write letters, but I got one from her last year thanking me for all the nice things I said about Don in the last Family Doings. She was, however, a little miffed that I failed to mention two of her children, Bonzo and Cheetah Morris.
Don was there. It would purely amaze you, but he is just as good-looking and charming as he ever was. He may have slowed down a step or two but any sudden body movements can still clear out a crowd just as quick as ever. Margaret and Vic thought ahead and chose a windswept beach for the reunion. Like all the Morrises, Don complained a lot about how hard it is to find comfortable shoes for feet with an opposing thumb. He says that Elinor "understood" all those little jokes I wrote in the last Reunion News but confessed that some of it was just too intellectual for him. I helped him count his bananas and told him I understood how confusing these letters can be.
"You can't insult a Morris," Don said. It ain't for lack of trying.
Some people disputed my previous statements about Don. They thought I flattered him unnecessarily and said they did not believe he had ever been in church. I assert that he has, although (by mutual agreement with the minister) it never was a regular thing. "We love our Brother Don," the minister said, "but even Jesus has limits."
"If they don't want you to fart, why do they call it a pew?" Don asked indignantly. He does not understand much about religion.
Did you ever wonder what happened to Baby Huey when he retired from comic books? I met Jeff Morris when he was wandering around down on the beach, still wearing the radio tracking collar the game wardens gave him. He was roaming around pretty freely so I assumed he was out of range of their receivers. His fur is not as long as Don's but the consensus of opinion is that they are the same sub-species.
"Cliffy," he said. "Long time, no see."
"Most of the time, not long enough," I said.
"Didn't you used to have long hair and a beard?" Jeff asked.
"Nope, I always had a crew cut and I was clean-shaven. You must be thinking of your sisters. You remember." I told him.
"Oh, yeah, now I remember," he said. "You look a lot different with a beard."
"Say, Jeff, what are you doing these days?"
"Being a bum, mooching off my Dad, getting into trouble."
I was surprised. He seems safe, though it's hard to tell with anything that big.
"Say, Jeff," I asked, "how many tranquilizer darts does it take to bring you down?"
He said he didn't know for sure and then told me some outlandish story about how some woman wanted him to come live with her and just be a bum over at her place. It's the Morris dream but he didn't have all the details consistent.
I got some real nice pictures of Don and Jeff and I showed them to the clerk in the drug store when I got them developed.
"A friend of mine shot one of those things in Northern Washington," he said. "His wife wouldn't let him bring it in the house." That confused me.
"David Leard lives up that way, but no Morrises that I know of." I told him.
He looked at the pictures again. "Coulda been a Leard I guess."
There was some discussion of the fact that the family genealogy is, shall we say, subject to interpretation. Some went so far as to state that Don Morris is not, strictly speaking, a blood relative and, therefore, it is not necessary to claim him, despite his obvious achievements. I feel that he must be included, if only because he has infested an unusually large portion of the family and he seems to show up at the slightest mention of free food. There are, however, larger issues involved.
Over the years, the Richardson-Taylor clan has acquired members by a number of different methods, including adoption, acquisition by marriage, friends who just kept hanging around, (on a few occasions) actual "legitimate" births, and from other causes far too complicated to explain in ten or twelve pages. This can sometimes be confusing to children and others who are not fully acquainted with the difference between admitted and actual history.
I remember when I was growing up I used to ask my mother questions like, "What relation is David Leard to me?"
"He's your first cousin," she said.
"Are you sure?"
"Sure. Just check the tag on his ear." She handed me a code book from the Department of Fish and Game.
"What is Steve Morris to me?"
"He's your first cousin, too."
"Are all the Morrises my first cousins?"
"In general they are. There are a few exceptions, but those are purely on scientific grounds."
"What is Laurence?"
"Laurence is best avoided," she said.
"That's common knowledge," I said. "But what relation?"
"Oooooh, he's just some kind of relative or other."
"But what kind? Cousin? Uncle? Great-aunt? What?"
"I'm sure that he is at least one or more of those," she said. "Otherwise, it would be easier to get rid of him."
"Well, then, what about Ruthie? What relation is she?" I asked.
"Do you think it will rain?"
Some of you may have noticed that Mary avoided certain questions with respect to the family history. I am sure there must be a good, logical explanation.
Since I started the newsletter, and will some day publish a family tree, I have been informed that several members of the family were acquired by means which were, shall we say, not exactly standard. Let it suffice to say that a large portion of the family might not pass pedigree standards for the American Kennel Club. As some of you may know, there is even a branch of the family which is no blood relation at all, but was acquired solely because they smelled hamburgers on the grill.
In any event, it shall be my policy to consider any family member, however acquired, to be on a par with any other family member who does not have quite so much to explain about their bloodlines. How you got here (marriage, adoption, or factually recorded birth) is basically irrelevant so, unless someone insists, I will not list details of how someone got to be at any particular branch on the family tree. Nor will I attempt to judge the relative merits of anyone's lineage. Just take my word for it, that is who they are represented to be.
See you at the reunion, (with the exception of the low-down, no-good Richardson individual who lives in Ohio and has never attended a single family reunion).
Clifford A. Schaffer
1992 Reunion Details
When: June 20 & 21, 1992
Where: Mooney Grove, Visalia, California
Arbor number 11
That's really good thinking, Becky -- inviting Don Morris to a place called "Mooney Grove."
Contribution: The standard contribution is again $8.00 per household,
giving the greatest benefit to those of you who breed like rabbits.
Those of you who wish to send more may do so. The money goes into a reunion fund which is used to pay for others who can't manage it, or it is carried forward to the following year. Becky says that if you contribute enough money, she will investigate possible campsites in Rio De Janeiro for our benefit. Send your cash, check, or small items of jewelry to:
Becky says that it would be helpful to know how many bottomless pits you will be bringing with you so she can have some idea how many sides of beef she will need.
Please reply by June 1 to let her know.
Bring: Salads, beans (it's OK, it's outdoors - just stay upwind of
the Leards), desserts, and munchies.
Bring your own beverages and a healthy load of charcoal.
Becky said to bring special dishes, gourmet cuisine, and something which will "suprise us all." Please don't. I don't think she realizes what she is saying. Especially, please don't bring anything you found in the park.
How to Get There and Other Notes
Becky has chosen Visalia for this year's reunion. As you can see from the enclosed sheet, it is the "Jewel of the Valley". Some of you may recognize it by other names. She says she chose it because it is the only place in the area with a low to moderate amount of gunfire in the city parks.
Here is Becky's description of how to get to Mooney Grove:
To get to Mooney Grove in Visalia, take the Hwy 198 exit off Hwy 99. You will be turning east and the exit signs will indicate Visalia/Sequoia National Park. You will drive right past the majority of the motels as you head into town. Five miles after you exit Hwy. 99 and are now heading east on Hwy. 198, take the Mooney Blvd. exit and turn right (south). After crawling about five miles through all the traffic, there will be a little open space and on the left (east) side will be Mooney Grove.
There is an alternate route to get to Mooney Grove without using the heavily trafficked Mooney Blvd. Take the Tagus/Ave. 264 exit east off Hwy 99 (this will be south of the Hwy 198 exit by 6 miles), continue east on Ave. 264 until Mooney Blvd. where you will turn left (North). Mooney Grove will be on your right (east) real soon.
What do you think the Morrises will be thinking about by the time they get there? Let's just hope they don't get out of hand.
Becky says this place is a county park (not unlike the place where some of you may be residing) with lots of tall trees, grass, kiddie play areas, and a duck pond where the Leards can grab an occasional snack without bothering the rest of us. About forty miles east of Visalia is the entrance to Sequoia National Park. You may want to plan to visit Sequoia during your trip.
We have a large covered arbor -- number 11, on the left after you enter the park -- reserved for both days. There are electrical outlets on the site so you all can bring you favorite appliances. Mooney Grove has a $2.00 per vehicle entrance fee. There is NO parking around the outside of the park. Those who wish to save money and/or help relieve the parking gridlock within the park will need to leave extra vehicles and form car pools at the shopping center north of the park, or at lodging sites. Of course, if you just hitchhiked down for the free hamburgers - even better.
In keeping with tradition (tradition? When did we ever have any tradition beyond petty theft?) we will slaughter the fatted calf around noon and put bowls out for the Morrises and the Leards. We will have an early dinner on Saturday to try to get their bellies full before the sun goes down.
There are two RV campgrounds nearby and campers need to reserve early as this area gets very busy with folks traveling to and from the National Parks.
Motelers have a good variety of choices. Most of the motels are along Hwy 198 between Hwy 99 and Visalia proper; these are recommended. (Apparently Becky has some considerable experience with them.) There are also motels on Mooney Blvd. Mooney Blvd. is the main commercial strip complete with six lanes of heavy traffic , all stop and go due to frequent traffic lights . This is also where the cruisers cruise. At one time, Visalia was planned as the site for the movie American Graffiti, until the producers decided to go to the more exciting town of Modesto.
The Visalia KOA has a full range of sites offering no services (comparable to home) to full hook-ups and tent areas. It appears to be clean and well-maintained. Amenities include a pool, game room, and a small playground. Becky says she was quoted $16.65 for full hook-ups. Reserve early, their busy season starts in April. See the enclosed sheets for location map and campground layout.
Name Address Phone Rates & Comments Holiday RV Park 6504 Betty Drive (209) 651-1040 Slightly farther Goshen, CA away than KOA Lemon Hwy 198 in Lemon (209) 597-2346 Farther away - Cove/Sequoia Cove toward the Campground national parks Three Rivers Three Rivers (209) 561-4413 Farther away - Motel & RV Park toward the national parks Kaweah Park Three Rivers (209) 561-4424 Farther away - Resort Motel & toward the RV Park national parks Best Western 623 W. Main St. (209) 732-4561 2 blocks North of Visalia (800) 528-1234 Hwy 198 $52 to $60 LampLiter Inn 3300 W. Mineral (209) 732-4511 $59 to $75 King Ave. Visalia Econo Lodge 1400 S. Mooney (209) 732-6641 $36 to $45 Blvd., Visalia Parkway Inn 4801 W. Mineral (209) 627-2885 $38 to $52 King Ave. Visalia El Rancho Motel 4506 W. Mineral (209) 734-9271 $28 to $40 King Ave. Visalia Visalia Radisson Mineral King Ave. (800) 333-3333 $75 for AAA Hotel & Court St. members Visalia Holiday Inn 9000 W. Airport (209) 651-5000 $66 to $81 Plaza Park Dr. (800) 821-1127 Visalia (inside California) (800) 348-8877 (outside California) Marco Polo 4545 W. Mineral (209) 732-4591 unknown King Ave. Visalia Motel III 4645 W. Mineral (209) 732-5611 unknown King Ave. Visalia Oak Tree Inn 401 Woodland Dr. (209) 732-8861 unknown Visalia Mooney Motel 2120 S. Mooney (209) 733-2666 unknown Blvd. Visalia Visalia Visitors (209) 734-5876 Bureau
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