55th Vandivort Reunion

When your family is small enough that we could hold our family reunion in a phone booth (for you young whippersnappers, go see an old Superman movie to see what a phone booth is), the Vandivort reunion made my head spin. Gosh, that sure is a lot of people.

Harriet Smith and Ron Stein

Harriet Smith, a regular reader, sent me an invitation to the 55th annual reunion of the Clyde and Julia Vandivort family to be held over the Fourth of July weekend. They were going to tour the old family home at 630 North Street, visit one of the old family farms and even have a paintball melee for the youngsters. At the last minute, though, Harriet sent out a message saying that the weather was too hot for the outdoor activities. They might have lots of members, she implied, but they didn’t want to lose any to the record-breaking heat wave.

I took lots of notes and even kept a digital tape recorder running for much of the visit, but I’m going to invoke the “Suzy Rule” and run mostly photos. (The Suzy Rule came about when Second Son Adam brought home his first date; I could tell that it was going to be E pluribus unum, so I told him that all subsequent girls would be called Suzy. Because of the high incidence of Julias in the extended Vandivort family, I modified it to be the “Julia Rule” today.)

I just couldn’t keep track of all the names, faces and stories. Sorry.

Ties to Cape

Paul Arthur Stein, a grandson of the Vandivorts, echoed the sentiments of many in saying that all of them have pieces of the family history.It was fun listening to the same account told in slightly different versions by different people.

When he was making the pilgrimages back to the home place, he and the other boys were exiled to the third floor where “it was really hot.”

Harriet made mention of the boys sneaking in beer and “having a gay old time.” Paul didn’t reference that. While the boys were sweltering on the third floor, the girls, she said, were in the carriage house “raising holy hell and having a wonderful time. Grandmother had lots of help and lots of patience.”

When Paul’s generation got older, they put the kids in the basement with a babysitter, games and a TV set so the adults could talk. Now, he said, THOSE kids are adults, the best of friends and come from all over the country to get together.

Owners opened house

The house stayed in the family until it was sold to a fraternity in the early 1970s. “Unfortunately,” said Harriet, “they just ruined it. We would come to town, drive by the house and cry.”

John Perry (no relation to the John Perrys in my family) and Steven Williams bought the house and have spent a lot of effort renovating it. The older family members could point out changes that had been made to the layout of the house, but they seemed to be happy with the job John and Steven have done.

With the exception of an apartment house on the east side, much of the neighborhood has remained the same, with some of the same neighbors. Half a block to the west is the Lamkin home where I photographed the children selling Kool-Aid

Vandivort Reunion Photo Gallery

Thanks to the family for letting me spend some time with them. You all have the same connection to Cape as I do. Even though we’re miles away from the place, it’s still close in our hearts. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.