I had never experienced anything like this in all my life and neither had Lynne.
About 1000 miles out of London we both felt homesick and if we could have willed that plane to go back home, then home we would have gone.
Landing at LA airport was strange. With the exception of a day trip to Dunkirk in 1984, here we were on foreign soil for the first time in our lives. Once through customs we saw my sister and her husband smiling at us. Judy was in tears. Both gave us a hug. It was nice to finally arrive at their home in Riverside for a rest. We had been up that day for 23 hours, as they are eight hours behind us.
Wednesday 8th October we flew to Memphis to stay for a few days with Bobby Williams, a cousin of mine. He had a photo of me when I was a baby; my mum had sent it to his mum, now deceased.
On Thursday 9th we went over to Arkansas where I met my Aunt Carlene, in a place called Osceola. Earlier we visited a little shanty town called Dyes where the Williams family used to live - my dad, aunts and uncles along with my Nan and granddad, (better known to friends and neighbours as other mama and other papa).
Dyes came about during the 1930's, at the time when my family moved from Tupelo, Mississippi.
The land was given by President Roosevelt during the depression and if you worked it you kept it, which is what my grandparents did.
On the Friday, Lynne and I moved into the Holiday Inn for two days at Osceola, ready for the family reunion. Although we met some of the family i.e. cousins and 2nd cousins, who also stayed at the hotel, the main bulk arrived on Saturday. They came from Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and California. We have never had such a welcome, all knew about me, with comments like; you look like your dad and wish we could have met years ago. My step brother Doyle, who came from California, said it was scary because of the likeness between dad and me. My step sister Hilda as well as Judy where also there with us.
All good things have to come to an end and after visiting the graveyard a few miles away in Basset Ark where my grandparents were buried, we went back to Bobby Williams place and stayed until the following Wednesday, when we flew back to California.
The reunion had been made possible only by the organization of Aunt Carlene's daughter, Alice. Those that we got closest to, apart from Judy, step brother Doyle and step sister Hilda, were Ed and my cousin Jayne. Ed was the Mayor of Dyes until he retired and certainly is a character. Also a cousin called Hubert and his wife Mary, Hubert reminded us of Ned Flanders out of the Simpsons, and he really was a nice bloke.
I could go on about the different people we met, but it would take too long! One funny thing though at the reunion - a young lady introduced me to her Uncle Sam and I could not help saying “So you're the one who keeps drafting people”.
We went to many places, including Gracelands and met many interesting people. I have a celebrity in the family, a second cousin named Buddy Jewell, an up and coming Country and Western singer, who could not get to the reunion.
My father died in 1980 it was so sad to see his grave and I heard so many good things about him he seemed to have been a really good man I wish I could have met him. In conclusion my cousin Bobby told me a funny story about Dad. While he was drinking heavily because Mum and I didn’t go to the State he went out one night and nicked a bull dog and brought it home to other mama. They had that dog for 15 years and just called it bull dog. Dad never remembered where he stole it from!
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