Memory Lane

We were up in Akron today for a funeral service for an old and dear family friend.  It gave Kish, Cath and me a chance to visit the Webner clan lived in before we moved to Columbus, see some fondly remembered acquaintances again, and visit Portage Country Club, the Tudor-style building where we had countless family gatherings — including weddings, showers, and birthday celebrations — over the years.

I had to take a look at the “Board Room,” pictured above, where Grandpa Neal hosted annual luncheons that featured lots of revelry, Baked Alaska for dessert, and Grandpa’s remarks in which he gave a recap of the year and, speaking totally from memory, recounted the highlights for everyone in attendance.  I looked at the table and thought that, if we were to try to convene that gathering now, many of the chairs would be empty and those of us still around would look a lot grayer and more bowed than we once did.  As we left Portage Country Club, I wondered if this was the last time I would pass through its big wooden doors.

They say that funerals are a time for remembering, and our visit to Akron today certainly set me to thinking back to old times.  It was a wistful experience, but I enjoyed taking a little trip down memory lane.

In the Board Room, At Portage Country Club

IMG_2275Today Kish and I visited Portage Country Club in Akron, Ohio for the first time in almost 20 years.  It’s a grand old Tudor-style club that was the center of many activities for our family.  We’ve had wedding receptions there, it’s where I learned to swim, and today it hosted a memorial service for Uncle Gilbert.  He would have liked the fact that the occasion brought all the cousins together again at such a familiar location.

One of the most familiar places at Portage is the Board Room.  For years, Grandpa Neal would hold an annual family luncheon around the time of his birthday.  Everyone attended, and as spouses and babies joined the family the size of the gathering grew.  After we’d had our lunch Grandpa would give a little speech about what had happened to everyone during the year, and the lunch would be capped off by Baked Alaska (Kish’s favorite).

It’s been many years since we had one of those dinners, but the Board Room still looks the same.  Seeing the room and the pictures of the past country club presidents, I could almost hear Grandpa’s voice and see us all gathered around the table.

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