The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Sandy Laumeyer
Just A Thought 

Picnics Past and Present


This coming Sunday, the congregations of Queen of Angels in Nashua, St. Albert’s in Hinsdale, Holy Family in Glentana, and St. Raphael’s in Glasgow will gather for an outdoor Mass followed by a potluck picnic at Kiwanis Park in Fort Peck.

As I was perusing my recipe book—recipes I’ve gathered over the past almost 20 years—I was remembering other parish picnics and remembering what dishes I’d taken to share. I’d have 10 times the recipes to look through had it not been for losing my recipes twice to house fires.

Not only did memories of all the different foods I’d taken and sampling what everyone else had brought come streaming back, but also memories of the adults visiting, telling stories and laughing while watching the children burn off some of their energy as they chased each other in a game of tag, played catch, or games of their own design.

From there my thoughts drifted to my mother-in-law and her memories she so willingly shared with me. She told of how her father had come to northeast Montana and homesteaded. Of how he’d provided a house for his family and outbuildings for the livestock and grain harvest before bringing his family here. Of how they rarely had the opportunity to attend Mass and worship together with other Catholics. Of how when that chance materialized, the word would be passed that a priest was going to be in the area and on the designated day— not necessarily Sunday—they would gather at someone’s home or in a country school to worship together. She said people arrived by team and wagon, and how all the women had prepared a plethora of food to be shared.

She spoke of the picnics that were much like those I remember with perhaps the exception of music being added, and how as dusk moved in, dishes and children were gathered up and they all went home, looking forward to the next time they could once again be together.

Other stories of gatherings of the homesteaders and their get-togethers would form pictures in my mind of those days. My mother-in-law often said that gathering to worship, having picnics to celebrate the end of harvest, couples getting married and welcoming new babies were important to the homesteaders. Without these gatherings, she said, it would have been next to impossible to stay on the land and build their farms and ranches.

People, she noted, are social beings and need to spend time with others. That need, she went on, is so strong that people will do whatever they must in order to be together, sharing stories, food, even being able to talk about their troubles and how to solve them.

So next Sunday, instead of people arriving at Kiwanis Park by team and wagon, you’ll see quite a collection of cars and pickups. And if you stop and listen, you’ll hear hearty laughter, see people hugging each other, parents and other adults helping children to fill their plates with something other than brownies, cake and cookies. As the day winds down and you look back as you leave the park, perhaps the laughter and cheerful voices of other times can be heard in the rustling of the leaves and you’ll feel moved to whisper, “See you next year.”


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