Wednesday night my girlfriend Jackie and I drove over to western Pennsylvania to attend the Cramer family reunion, a gathering at the Fredonia, PA home of my Uncle Ed, who worked a cattle farm in the area for fifty years. There surrounded by cousins of all degrees and plates overburdened with delicious family recipies, I recorded hours of stories told about my father's family. Many of the tales recalled my great-grandfather Frank Austen Cramer--known to all as 'grandpap'--who was a man of tremendous strength and a skillfull axeman who ran a saw mill to put his three daughters (including my grandmother Martha) through school in the height of the Depression.
On Thursday we went driving with my Uncle Ed, who is now 91 years old, to visit several local cemeteries and sites like the one-room school house where my grandmother taught, and barns that my great-grandfather built. We also visited Ed's old farm, once a 120-acre cattle farm called Anterra where as a child I spent many holidays tromping the fields and plinking away with a .22 rifle , and now a rodeo and barrel-riding showplace with an 140,000 sq-ft arena.
Much of the history of my ancestors in this place is as weathered as the family gravestones and the caved-in barns, but I hope by writing that I can bring some of it back for the future generations.