My family vacation to Jamaica was one of my family most memorable experiences. We left for our trip on February 26, 2009 on a cool Thursday morning at 10:00am. We shuffled into the St. Louis Airport with our luggage waiting for our flight to departure. While waiting the children took potty breaks and I grabbed me a hot cup of wake up that was strong and bitter which was not a taste of delight. Our flight took off at 12:45pm and lasted for eternity. I kept looking out the window for the next eight hours thinking are we there yet. My legs turned lifeless and weak upon me standing at the end of the flight. We picked up our luggage at Jamaica International Airport and hitched a ride with the first white minivan cabbie we could to our hotel.
Family Reunions is a time of gathering, a time when you see family and friends. My family consists of hundreds of individual, young and old. It’s a time to reflect back on the good old days. It never seems to amazes me, no matter where our family meet there are plenty of new friends of family members. Each year new member are inducted into the family. I can honestly say that about one-third of the attendees are friend and their families. The Fortner Reunion has grown over the years. We have been having yearly reunions since 1985 and still going strong. Family comes from near and far. We have California, Louisiana, Philadelphia, Michigan, Chicago, Memphis, Alabama Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. Total attending our reunion is now over 200 family and friends.
Preparation began the first week of April. Creating a Facebook Event page, getting family and close friend’s profile names, email addresses and telephone numbers sounds easy I know, yet it turned out to be the most difficult part of the outing we were planning, not to mention making sure we selected a date that was perfect for our out of town family and guest planning to visit. Well, even that became a problem based on communication was practically and almost impossible at this stage of planning.
I attended Queen Victoria’s eighty-fifth birthday dinner that is Queen Victoria Gates, my grandmother. My Aunt Helen, Aunt Ruthie, and Aunt Francis decided to have a birthday dinner March 22, 1990 for my grandmother’s birthday, which, was March 19 1990, and she turned eighty five years old. It was a memorable dinner for my grandmother as well as everyone else. It was not a surprise, because they knew they would not be able to keep it a secret from her. Grandma thought it was going to be a simple dinner, boy, was she in for a surprise, it was huge!
Our Church, Evergreen Full Gospel Baptist had planned on hosting its fifth annual anniversary in September 1970. The guest speaker was going to be Rev. John Whitelaw from Chicago, Ill. Rev. Whitelaw was from Mount Bayou, Mississippi but he had left there and came to St Louis, stayed here a couple years where he met and married his wife Susanna and moved to Chicago and started his Church, Holy Cross Full Gospel Baptist. He would speak during the services on Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:00 pm, and twice on Sunday morning at the 11:00 am service and again at 4:30 pm that afternoon. We would serve dinner between these services.
Rev. Whitelaw was a humorous fun loving and fun seeking jovial kind of fellow, who could always be counted on to play or tell a joke on people. He was fun to be around and everyone was always holding their sides from laughing so hard at his antics. The Food Service Committee inquired as to what Rev Whitelaw would like to have on the menu for the dinner. His response was he would like to have Mother Conner who was the top chef of the family to cook him a Coon.