Monday, June 24, 2013

The Picnic

Sunday, the day following Bill and Brit's wedding, some friends and family members gathered at the Marshall Monument picnic ground of the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, California. I love this park for historical and sentimental reasons. And I love this picnic ground in particular. 
The area is steeped in family history. My great-great grandfather, Ezra Schooley, is buried in Coloma's Pioneer Cemetery where his is the oldest standing grave. Ezra didn't make it to Coloma alive; according to newspaper accounts from that time, ". . .he died ten miles short of the diggings, from the disease of the country."  Ironically, before I ever heard of Ezra Schooley, I bought a home in El Dorado Hills, which is about ten miles from Coloma, along the historical road that leads to the diggings. It could not have been any further than five miles from the spot where Ezra died.
My great grandfather, James Blair, wed Ezra's daughter, Amanda Schooley, in 1865. James and his brother, John, had established Sportsman's Hall in Pollock Pines, just a bit further east.
Sportsman's Hall served as an inn and a place to layover while wagon teams waited their turn to cross the Sierras on the one-way treacherous road that lead to the Comstock mines just east of Carson City. It also served as a pony express station. Today it is still in operation as a restaurant. My great grandmother, Amanda Schooley Blair, is standing on the porch with her two oldest daughters in this photo (one half of a sterioptican photo). 

Ernest, the son of James and Amanda Blair married my grandmother Minnie Pauline Nichols (born in Folsom, CA) in 1908. At the time of their courtship, both were living in Placerville and would on occassion take a day trip and picnic at the newly erected Marshall Monument in Coloma. 

So, to make a short story long, that is one of the reasons I enjoy visiting that picnic ground -- knowing that I am treading the ground trod by my grandparents during their courtship.

 Easily recognizable is Ben in the green shirt, cousin Robby sits next to him and then sister Valery and her friend, Jim.


 Brother Rick and his wife Kathy enjoy a moment of solitude away from the madding crowd. The picnic tables and barbecue pits are of WPA construction.
The first three people on the left are Kim, Jeannie and Jason. Kim is Jason's wife and Jeannie is Kim's mother. Jason was adopted at birth by my brother and his ex-wife. Jason reunited with his birth mother a couple of years ago in a fairy tale story that brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. Jason's birth mother, Dianne and her husband Danny sit across the table from Kim. Dianne released Jason for adoption when she was fifteen years old and never had another child. Reuniting with Jason was for her a miracle and they have been very present in each other's lives since.

Sitting next to Danny are Tom and Nichole (Tom is blocking Nichole). Tom and Nichole along with their daughter Mallaika have the distinction of being the ones who traveled furthest for the wedding. They make their home in North Dartmouth, MA, where Tom has just completed his first year of law school.
Folks you haven't seen in other photos are Susie Lee, girlhood friend of sister Valery, standing on the left. Next to her is Jason, then Rachel and Kevin. Irene Ogawa is seated in front of Kevin. She is a friend of mine from ROLM/IBM days twenty-five years ago.


And here are the newlyweds -- Bill and Brittany Paine. To the left of Bill are Amy Schulze and her husband Bill. Amy was Ben's (and Logan's) second grade teacher in California and she remains forever in our hearts and lives. She and Bill live in the Coloma area where she has a bunch of dogs and a horse. Bill keeps bees, is a birder, and a retired veterinarian (a providential match for dog lover Amy). They are wonderful people and intend to stay active in Ben's new life in California.

Avoiding inclusion in any pictures, but making a token appearance, was Seth Matthews, son of my dear friend, Nancy Matthews. Nancy and I were neighbors at the time Kevin and Colleen were born. Kevin, Colleen, and Seth have known each other all their lives. Seth is now assistant DA in nearby Calaveras County.

All told, it was a glorious day, a perfect balance to the wedding of the previous day, and a great chance to connect with some folks who didn't make it to the wedding.

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