Thursday, June 30, 2011

Schwartz Reunion 2011: 50 Year Celebration

Black Bear Inn is the only hotel in Berne
The 50th Schwartz reunion took place Saturday, June 25, 2011 in Berne, Indiana at the Lehman Park pavilion.  Around 300-400 family members attended this year to celebrate family and to commemorate gathering together since 1961.  Uncle Amos brought photos of the family through the years, commemorative hats were available as well as a family cookbook that Nova Brill took the time to assemble using recipes representing the entire family.
Schwartz Cookbook
The majority of the rooms at Black Bear Inn were taken by family members.  We arrived on Thursday with a few others in the family but by Friday evening the Inn was full of family.  The lobby became the unofficial gathering area for us.  Hugs and catching up were the theme until later in the evening a few led some singing, yodeling and harmonica playing.  Yep, you heard me right - yodeling!  What's a German family without a little of the yo-de lay-de-oo going on!  Family Von Trapp eat your heart out.

The family was reminded to stop by the new clock tower in town.  A multi-million dollar project funded by charitable donations.  Limberlost Construction, founded by Amos Schwartz, but now run by his son Mike was the project manager for this project.  The tower and park are known as the Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower.  It is modeled after the clock tower in Bern, Switzerland.  The mission statement:  The Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower create a time-honoring tribute at the crossroads of our community by fostering an abiding legacy of the faith of our ancestors, refreshing the common spirit of the community and inspiring a vision of hope for future generations. 

Muensterberg Plaza and Clock Tower
Much of the family time over the weekend centered around food in one form or another.  Some were visiting with cousins at one of their houses eating snacks or more usually a full meal.  Others met at one of the local restaurants to reminisce while ordering off the menu.  Yet others grabbed take out and met at some one's home or in the hotel lobby.  Food has always been a center part of family events.  I suppose its why we refer to the guys all having the Schwartz belly.  We may start trim but all that eating catches up with us eventually.

Schwartz family waiting for lunch to be ready!
Nova's idea of putting the cookbook together was a huge hit.  Hundreds of books were purchased by family members.  I promised Nova that I would do some future blog posts with some of the recipes (so look for them tagged to 'family recipe'.  The book begins with a very brief family history along with a list of the children and grandchildren of John P. and Barbara B. Schwartz - my grandparents.  These are the two that started this reunion 50 years ago.  The family can be found on the Schwartz Facebook page as well.  Over 500 recipes that various family members have used over the years including my mom's sausage gravy recipe that she has kept a secret for years.

Besides eating alot we have a chance to reconnect with family.
My wife is learning how to solve a Rubik's cube
from two of our Godsons.
Wow, how do you catch up with hundreds of relatives in one short weekend!?  Impossible.  I would start to talk to one cousin, get distracted by another cousin and then be called away by an uncle . . . and then never have time to go back and catch up with the original cousin that I was talking with.  It was a great time to reunite with family regardless.  No major drama at the reunion was a major positive point for all of us.  Its tough not to have some drama with that much family in one location much less one room!  We had great German family entertainment, i.e.:  singing, harmonicas and yodeling.  Catching a theme yet?

Uncle Joe and a few of the cousins were part of
the musical entertainment for the reunion.
The family split up and headed different directions after the reunion.  Our immediate family (well, about half of them or about three dozen of us) had some celebrating to do so we gathered at my brother's house for a cookout and to celebrate the first birthday of Samuel Reagan Schwartz, my nephew.  His parents, Chris and Naundus, wanted to have a birthday party for him; so while several dozen cousins gathered in Decatur, Indiana at a restaurant that evening, we met to celebrate the next generation.

Mom holding little Sam
Well, that was the 50th Schwartz reunion.  A lot of Schwartz family, a lot of food and a lot of catching up.  We did it and we survived ... and have the hat to prove it!  It was great to see the family - I love you all!

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