Family Reunion at Fort Worden -- For the Last Time

By Paul

Originally posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Modfied: Thursday, April 19, 2007

Since 1989 there has been family reunion at Fort Worden.  There will be family reunions in the future, but not at this location.  Getting reservations to the place has become a supreme hassle.  It was bad enough when I organized the first few years.  As the park and the housing because more popular, cousin Sharon had to be at the park's reservation office at 8:00 AM exactly 1 year to day before we wanted our weekend to start.  She's done this since about 1992.   Too much effort.  So we will find a new spot... next year at cousin Greg's place not too far away.

I have not yet made a web page of photos, but all the digital pictures I took this weekend are on the Internet.  You can see them at my account on Flickr.  As of this writing I have not yet added any captions or done any editing or cropping.  There are also pictures there from previous years at Fort Worden.

There are so many memories from all the years at Fort Worden.  There have been major transitions in the lives of the cousins:  the births of kids and grandchildren, the passing of parents and children, the start and end of marriages, new homes, new jobs, retirements, all those life changing events.  And for me the one constant through it all has simply been the cousins, just being there.

Years ago I read an article in magazine about the importance of cousins.  These are people with whom you share a common history, but these people aren't as close as your spouse or sibling, so there isn't much chance for tension between them.  For me that commonality is best summarized by simply saying "Walla Walla".  None of us cousins ever lived there, but our parents (Marion, Lowell & Walt) spent some tough years there during the Great Depression early in the 1930's.  We never heard complaining stories of extreme hardship, but from our Grandma Quesnell and Marion, Lowell and Walt, all the cousins had this common understanding of how they made the best of what was truly a tough time.

Some things stick out in my mind as I recollect the past 18 years at Fort Worden.

Back in the 80's I was starting the feel the some of the drudgery associated with family gatherings.  The drudgery was part of "The Holidays".  My cousins are an important part of my life because my dad, his brother and sister, remained so close all of their lives.  As kids, it seems like we got together for some reason at least every other month, if not more.

As we grew up moved away from our parents and had families of our own the cousins only got together at the biggest of events and sometime around Christmas.  It got to the point where I felt I was driving so far just to say "hi" and have a piece of pumpkin pie.  Seeing my cousins became part of the holiday routine... and I wanted more.

So I suggested we have a weekend retreat when we could have a couple of days and nights to visit with each other.  My cousin Lorraine said that her "new mothers group" had been doing something like that long after their babies had been walking and talking.  We considered locations, such as hotels at the ocean or even in downtown Seattle.  Then we heard about the guest housing at Fort Worden .

We could rent 2 houses with up to 6 bedrooms each, an equipped kitchen, dining and living rooms.  This was perfect!  It was like a house, but no one was really the host.