Day 17-18: Santa Fe

Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2

We set off from Ghost Ranch with Jasper exchanging contact information with his buddies after breakfast. The drive to the airport is uneventful as Embry deposits him on the plane to Oakland where he will meet his parents and sister for a week in San Francisco where they are vacationing. We will rendezvous with them in 10 days in Yosemite.

Our next stop: The McMichael Reunion in Santa Fe.

Now to fully understand the significance of this event, you need to know something about the McMichael family. Embry’s Uncle Jack was her mother’s only brother and the youngest of four children . They were the children of a country doctor, practicing family medicine in Quitman, Georgia in the 1930s and 40s. This town is about 30 miles from Baker County where we worked in the Civil Rights Movement in 1966. So the logical conclusion would be that since we humans are products of our culture, the McMichael family from the Deep South in the era of Jim Crow would be hard-nosed reactionaries and probably outright racists. Not so with this family. All four children turned out to be quite progressive. Uncle Jack, however, was an outright radical. He received a MDiv from Union in New York City, became a Methodist minister and was actually studying at Union the 1960s working on a PhD at the same time I was a divinity student there. His and his wife, Dash, were involved in many left wing causes in the 1950s, putting them at odds with the McCarthyism of the day, ultimately leading to a career-threatening appearance before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. So you could say they are not your typical Southern family.

Embry’s mother’s siblings produced a bunch of first cousins for Embry, with whom she remains remarkably close. The children of Uncle Jack, however, are the ones we are closest to—especially Rick and Karen—who are hosting the reunion for the Uncle Jack /Aunt Dash line. We are so lucky to be here. There are 18 of us participating in the reunion including Aunt Dash, who is 98 years old and living in a retirement community in the Bay Area. She is now partially blind but otherwise is in extraordinarily good health for someone her age, still getting lots of exercise, and just as smart and as sharp as any of us. Rick’s brother and sister and their spouses are here along with three members of the next generation and four of Aunt Dash’s great grandchildren. We have come from all over–the Washington area, Seattle, the Bay area, Sonoma County, Los Angeles, and south Florida.

It is a fine weekend of relaxed conversation and reminiscing, mostly sitting on the deck of Rick and Karen’s condo overlooking the city with magnificent views of the valley and mountains in the distance. I spend Saturday morning at the urgent care center, getting a cortisone shot for my ailing knee and antibiotics for my infected ear. I was very impressed with the quality of care and somewhat amazed when one of the doctors told me he had spent several years living in Annapolis where he was an avid sailor, racer, and yacht broker and also worked for a while as a yacht charter captain in the British Virgin Islands working for a company that sold out to Sun Sail(where I got our current sailboat, “Second Wind”.) Small world, as they say.

The highlight of Saturday was an evening at the Santa Fe Opera. The whole gang, except for the great grandchildren and their parents, took in a meal and lecture (Rick and Karen are members so we got in the exclusive event.) followed by a stunning performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, returning to our hotel (across from Rick and Karen’s condo) at one a.m., exhausted.

Long day but rich and full and great to be again with lifelong friends and relatives. This adventure is turning out to be a nostalgia trip with the reconnection theme becoming a main story line

4 thoughts on “Day 17-18: Santa Fe

  1. In 1967 – the first summer Irwin and I were married – we signed on to teach at an Upward Bound program at Tougaloo in Jackson MS. It was an education: my first experience with the African-American upper class (none of that in Davidson during our youth), meeting two white teachers from Jackson who were from old MS families and had to create an elabaorate fiction about what they were doing that summer because if anyone knew they were at Tougaloo they would lose their jobs as school teachers (not even their families knew where they really were). You are so right – Not all southern families are created equal.

  2. Sounds like another great experience in a string of mainy… Really sorry to be missing this reunion, not to mention the opera… Send our best to all, especially Aunt Dash!!

  3. Family and friendship – the greatest of all gifts; never more so than when family is also friend!

  4. Because of the reunion and various tasks involved I am just getting to older e-mail and appreciate you comments.

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