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The Wickham Reunion – the article that started it all

February 14th, 2015 ·No Comments

Well, the Wickham Family Reunion has come and gone round for another year. A few folks come from quite a distance, but for the most part, the Wickhams all live in or around Malcolm Falls.

The reunion, then, is pretty much a get-together of people who know an awful lot about each other and run into one another on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This group is spiced up by the annual arrival of some big city cousins, a couple from the branch of the family that took off out west after World War II and two or three who live just far away from Malcolm Falls that they are listed in a different phone book.

This year the reunion was at Oliver and Lois Wickham’s place about four miles west of Piney Lake. Bertha Wickham, young Hal’s wife, came over about 7:30 a.m. to help Lois make up the lemonade and iced tea and get the hamburger into patties and so forth.

The weather wasn’t predicted to be too hot that day so they didn’t fret too much about the food people were bringing in taking a turn for the worse from the heat. Of course, heat or no heat, Bertha and Lois made special plans for Aunt Opal’s perennial Jell-O dish.

Fifteen years ago when she first brought it, Seth Post, Ariel Wickham’s husband, had taken a big spoonful. Instead of allowing itself to be scooped out, the Jell-O stretched all the way over to his plate and then “bungee-ed” back to the bowl with a loud thwack.

Carolette Wickham Boone had quietly taken the bowl and emptied the Jell-O out, except for a wee bit. When Aunt Opal came back around for seconds, she saw the almost empty dish and said that since everyone had liked it so much, she would make it a tradition to bring it.

The next year, everybody made it a point to have Aunt Opal go through the line first and then Carolette grabbed the bowl and did her thing. She was afraid to put it down the garbage disposal so she slid it into a plastic bag and stashed it under the sink.

It was probably about three years later when Tim Olsen, Jane Wickham Forbes grandson by her daughter Beth, walked out behind the barn and found the youngest Wickham generation playing “Jell-O ball.”

The kids went stone still at the sight of Tim, but six-year-old Tyler piped up with “Uncle Harv taught us!” Tim found Harv out on the screen porch where the family pictures were displayed and took him aside.

“Those kids are playing with Aunt Opal’s Jell-O and they say you told them to,” he whispered sharply. Harv Wickham put his hand on Tim’s shoulder and said, “Boy, I know you’re going to school to be a preacher, and I respect that. Tim, I’ve been married to Opal for 40 years and I love her to death, but that Jell-O like to be the death of me. Now I didn’t want her to bring it to the reunion, but she went and did it and now she thinks people like it.

“So those kids like to play Jell-O-ball. Heckfire, I’ve juggled it, used it to pad the seat on the tractor and plugged up a hole in the chicken coop with it; the stuff works great. Opal thinks we like her Jell-O. Well, boy, we do. We’re just a liking it a little bit different than she imagines. Now, you going to go and ruin things?”

And that was that.

At this last reunion, Chuck Hughes, who had come with his widowed mother, SueAnn Wickham Hughes, from suburban Kansas City got to talking with his cousins about rider lawnmowers.

They were comparing the merits of John Deere, Wheel Horse, and others when Chuck asked, “So what kind of mileage do you fellows get?”

Everybody was sort of quiet for a moment and then Chuck launched off in an explanation of the new trend in suburbia. “I finished mowing my acre one day and thought, ‘Shoot, I don’t use this thing but once a week. Why not try to get more use of it?’

“So I got to talking with some of my neighborhood buddies and we figured we could save a lot of wear and tear on our cars if we mowed our way around the subdivision. First of all, we had to agree on what height to set the mowers so the paths would blend together . . .”

The cousins were nodding as Chuck went on about mowing his way into work and then Wade Wickham piped up, “Too bad SueAnn’s never been much for the outdoors or you and she could have mowed your way out here on the interstate median strips.”

Last we heard, Wade and Chuck had put SueAnn on a plane and were heading out to Kansas City on Wade’s new John Deere. They plan to show slides of the trip next year.

Tags: This and That at The Peanut Butter Cafe & Roadhouse

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