Buhl Farm Park, with its large grassy expanses and towering trees, swings and play areas, winding roads where we used to wash/wax our cars and ride our bikes, the band-shell where many a concert was attended, the community swimming pool and the infamous snow sledding hill was the favorite spot for family picnics and reunions. Labor Day was especially important, not only
because it marked the end of summer, but also because the region was
predominantly steel mills and factories where the American Union workers were
quite loyal and proud – my family among them.
The large stone reserved picnic pavilion is where most of the Bishop and Falvo/Combine Family Reunions were held. I can still envision the games of softball, football, horseshoes and badminton that had we played in the adjoining
field. Those picnics were real events. In addition to the traditional hot dogs and burgers, everybody brought dish after dish of homemade scrumptious family ethnic foods (ziti, lasagna, hunter’s chicken, potato and macaroni salads, sausage with peppers and onions, fried greens, corn, ham, scalloped
potatoes (See Traditions/I Smell a Memory for the recipe), dandelion salads, homemade rolls and cakes, pies and desserts of all descriptions). There
was plenty of free flowing beer, wine (some home-made) and soda.
Boys would go to the lake and bring back all sorts of frogs and toads and salamanders, just to startle the girls and the moms. People came early and stayed late as radios blared Italian or contemporary music and baseball commentators. We played cards and checkers and, except for a few transient family feuds, enjoyed each others’ company. The evening was often topped off with sparklers or fireworks and running through the grass with our glass jars – trying to catch fireflies.
It was a time when families were not so far apart and extended families stayed
connected. It was a time of togetherness that left us with the special remembrances of those days. Today, we usually find it too hot in Las Vegas to spend the day at the park and extended family members are spread out across the nation or have gone to heaven, so our celebrations are smaller and closer to home. However, we still usually spend time together with good food, good music and good company and use the pool at home for the Labor Day holiday picnic. Still making memories and spending time together is important to us because it keeps us focused on family connections – a Labor of Love.