Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cousin Camp Hoedown

  We held our fifth biannual cousin camp this summer during the last week of July. The fact that I am just now getting around to blogging about cousin camp is indicative of just how much fun it was and how tired both Linda and I were at its completion. We are up to 25 grandchildren and all 25 of them were present and accounted for during cousin camp. Even the two youngest grandchildren, Nora and Tommy, were there. They are not old enough to qualify to attend cousin camp (five year old is the cutoff), but managed to sneak in with their mothers who had volunteered to cook.  Much of what we planned to do never happened, but we had a lot of quality time with our grandchildren and they had a lot of quality time with their cousins. It was a wonderfully happy chaos.

    Our theme for cousin camp this year was family history.  Many of the activities, including the meals, were planned with the lives of our ancestors in mind.   One of the fun events we planned was a hoedown, which actually did happen. The hoedown pertained to a story about my mother's father, James Wilburn Sinor.  When Cozette was living in Baxter County, Arkansas with her father, they occasionally hosted dances in their home. The way a dance usually came about was that several teenagers would stop by and ask "Mr Sinor" if they could have a dance at their house. He was usually willing. Preparation for the dance included moving all of the furniture to the outside walls in order to have more room for the dancers. It was also necessary to make arrangements for live music. The band consisted of Uncle Estel (brother of James Wilburn Sinor) on the guitar,  Uncle Estel's wife, Dorothy, on the mandolin, and Uncle Don Haney on the fiddle.  James Wilburn Sinor was the caller for the square dances.  Most of the kids who attended the dances were Cozette's cousins, as she was related in some way to most of the kids who lived nearby (defined as about a three mile circle in rural Baxter County Arkansas).  The square dancing was alternated with "round dancing".  I had falsely assumed that a round dance was some sort of folk dance.  The term round dance actually meant a waltz.  Unfortunately, Mom couldn't remember any of the songs her uncles and aunt played at their dances.  Neither could my Aunt Dolores name any of the tunes the band played. She didn't get into playing music until a bit later in her life. She did tell me that Uncle Don was an incredibly gifted fiddle player.  Dolores said that Uncle Don could have played professionally in Nashville, but for his drinking problem.  Apparently their little country square dances had some serious music.
The hoedown band, i.e. me
    Two granddaughters, Autumn and Chloe Kang,  took on the responsibility of teaching the rest of the grandkids how to square dance.  My job was to provide the music. mainly playing Oh Susanna on my fiddle.  Based on the wide variation in age and attention span among the dancers teaching square dance turned out to be difficult. We still had a great time. Teaching the birdie dance turned out to be quite a bit easier since it didn't depend so much on coordinating movements with a partner.  I also played that tune on the fiddle as well as King of the Fairies. My five year old grandson, John Tunnell, later came up to me and asked me to play a song. I tried several songs before I finally figured out that he wanted me to play King of the Fairies again.  Happiness is having a young grandson that already likes Irish fiddle music.  Since I was otherwise occupied playing the fiddle I passed my iPhone to grandson Jonathan Romero. He was a very diligent photographer and took all of the hoedown photos shown below, along with quite a few others:

Britton Tunnell, Luna Arnett, Chloe Kang, and Autumn Kang promenading

Madelynn Veatch and Hannah Yaden

Sofia Romero, Hannah Kang, Rachel Yaden, and Annika Romero

Notice the severe shortage of male dancers

Conner Veatch intently watching the action

John Tunnell decides he'll pass on the hand holding

Nora Tunnell and her mom enjoyed watching

Rachel Kang with Aunt Beth

Elise Kang and neighbor Sierra

Chloe Kang giving instructions

Not pouting, just patiently waiting for more instructions


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