Friday Afternoon at The Wyalusing Hotel
Brother-in-law Bill has the afternoon glow going, on the balcony at the Wyalusing Hotel.
The hotel sign is pretty cool, but take a good look, because Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are going to turn fluorescent signs like this into a thing of the distant past.
Friday Evening at Jim and Melissa’s ‘Party House’
This year’s reunion, the twelfth biennial, was hosted by Jim and Melissa, from the family of Dominic Kinsley and Katherine Cummiskey. They put on a wonderful welcome reception Friday evening, one that was not to be missed.
Here, Patty is making the move on her Uncle Donald ;-), one of the four remaining of the thirteen children of Dominic and Katherine.
Part of the festivities was the collection of mug shots of relatives that we haven’t seen recently, or that were a lot smaller last time we did.
Saturday Morning Walking Around Wyalusing
It wasn’t a long walk, but we enjoyed our stroll around ‘Historic’ Wyalusing Saturday morning. Patty’s father, Bill passed on his many stories of growing up there.
That’s Patty’s reflection in the window.
In the left photo below, the street that runs up the hill on the right is one of the places where Patty’s father, Bill, used to live (half way up on the right). Bill said that when the kids in town would sled down that hill, sometimes they would run all the way into the main intersection in Wyalusing, which is right behind the green pickup truck.
In the right photo below, the quilt pattern on the building was one of many around town that were painted by the Chamber of Commerce as a fundraiser.
Wyalusing has a few interesting features standing around. Here are two totem poles, which were carved by the previous town barber (the father of the current barber), and a stone hitching post. ‘Pretty beefy for a hitching post. Maybe it was for hitching your cow.
Saturday Morning at Grovedale Winery
One of the Saturday activities that Jim and Melissa recommended for reunion attendees was to visit Grovedale Winery, just on the south side of town. We wanted to drop by anyway to pick up a bottle of their Wyalusing White, so we gathered up a car load and headed out.
After we arrived at the winery, the others went right in, but since it was a beautiful day, I decided to walk around the grounds looking for interesting photos to take. Right next door to the winery, there appeared to be a crowd that was starting to gather under the trees just outside a funeral home. From the number of uniformed firemen in the crowd, and the presence of a vintage fire truck, I assumed it was a service for a fallen firefighter, or other local official. From the position of the fire truck below in front of the funeral home, it appeared that they were going to use it as a hearse. I paid my respects, and from a distance, took the photo below.
Earlier in the day, we had driven by the town fire station, and we noticed that there was a black sash (similar to the one on the grille of the fire truck) draped over part of the sign at the fire station. One of our passengers said they heard that an elderly fireman had recently been killed by an overturned tractor.
Later, when we were having lunch on Main Street, his funeral procession, with this fire truck carrying his remains, passed through town. That was quite a tribute they gave him.
We enjoyed our visit at Grovedale. After many tastings, we ended up buying two bottles of their 2014 Wyalusing White, a bottle of their 2015 Frontenac Gris, and a bottle of their Susquehanna Sunset table wine.
The Grovedale Farm has been in the owner’s family since 1822.
Saturday Afternoon at Camptown, Pennsylvania
I had been to Wyalusing a half dozen times, but I had no idea that a mere 5.2 miles away (via PA-706) lies Camptown, Pennsylvania, known to young and old (mainly to those who live in Camptown) as the town referred to in Stephen Foster’s (1826-1864) 1850 ballad, “Camptown Races“. The first stanza goes like this:
Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Camptown race-track five miles long, Oh, doo-dah day!
I come down dah wid my hat caved in, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin, Oh, doo-dah day!
Gwine to run all night!
Gwine to run all day!
I’ll bet my money on de bob-tail nag,
Somebody bet on de bay.
When I recognized our great fortune, I said, “We have to go!” (We didn’t have much else going on.). So right after lunch, we drove to Camptown, Pennsylvania.
When we reached the modern metropolis of Camptown, we found a few houses, a Dandy Mini Mart, a ball field, and this sign.
So the song makes it clear that people were betting on the horse races, and would I assume that bettors would want to be in Wyalusing as the horses crossed the finish line, so they could see if they won. But since the races were from Camptown to Wyalusing, how could someone in Wyalusing confirm that the race was conducted fairly? Hmmm, “I come down dah wid my hat caved in”. Camptown is 46 feet higher in elevation than Wyalusing. So the person in the song appears to be from Camptown (Doo-dah! doo-dah!). Then, “I go back home wid a pocket full of tin“. It sounds like he wins his bets rather routinely (“Oh, doo-dah day!”). Was it a sure thing?
Also, why weren’t they called “The Wyalusing Races”? Heck, they ran the whole way along Wyalusing Creek! Just think, if Stephen Foster had named the song “The Wyalusing Races”, then it would have been Wyalusing, instead of Camptown, that he engraved into American Culture. Heck, Wyalusing was the finish line for the races, and they didn’t even get a sign out of it!
Also, I don’t know when these horse races ended, but in 1965, the running of “The Camptown Races” resumed as a foot race. The 51st running of the modern Camptown Races is scheduled for September 9, 2017. But besides it being a foot race instead of a horse race, another notable difference is that now the course for this race only runs half way to Wyalusing, and then doubles back to Camptown. Wyalusing isn’t involved at all!
For at least 167 years, has there been something going on between the residents of Camptown and Wyalusing, or what? 😉
Saturday Afternoon at Deep Roots Hard Cider
As an afternoon activity, five car loads of us descended on Sugar Run’s Deep Roots Hard Cider cidery (I don’t think they were expecting us.). Lynda served us several flavors of hard apple ciders, and she also gave us a tour showing us how they do what they do. Monica and I liked the one blended with raspberry juice the best, so we bought a couple bottles to go. I’m looking forward to serving it super-cold!
Saturday Evening at the Reunion Dinner
The reunion dinner was served at the Tuscarora Wayne Community Room, just down the street from the hotel.
Cousins of all ages just seemed to have a great time at the event.
The photo below shows how Kinsleys typically respond when asked to assemble for the family photo. I think the term for it is ‘milling around’.
The family of Dick Kinsley and Mary Romani (married June 25, 1949) was well represented at the reunion … (check out dem smiles!)
… As was the family of Donald Heath and Helen Kinsley, Dick’s younger sister (married June 26, 1943).
On February 24, 1879, Dick’s grandfather, Andrew Kinsley, married Mahala “Isabel” Hope. Eleven years later (January 8, 1890), Andrew’s brother, John W. Kinsley, married Isabel’s sister, Sarah Ann Hope. The folks below are descendant from that family.
Here are some of the elders of the Kinsley Clan. The bales of wheat in the Kinsley coat of arms are in reference to a story where a Kinsley (Kinsella) hid a king who was being pursued in a bale of wheat [get reference for this].
Here’s Patty’s family.
Saturday Night at Wyalusing Rocks
After the reunion dinner, Karen and Robin were heading up to Wyalusing Rocks to catch the sunset. Karen was wondering when the sun was supposed to set. I told her that I could tell her that.
I grabbed my laptop and opened it up to the Sun Surveyor app. I entered “Wyalusing Rocks” and clicked on “Wyalusing Rocks Scenic Overlook”. An annotated map came up showing that the sun would set at 8:41 pm, and it pointed out the direction to look.
She and Robin went on, and after I finished packing up the things I brought to the reunion dinner, I checked my watch and it was 8:22 pm, plenty of time to run up to the Rocks. After I got there, Teresita, and her daughter, Teresita showed up as well. Robin and I got a few nice shots in the fading light. I hope things worked out for the fishermen down below at least as well.
After sunset, we went back and met the rest of the gang at the Wyalusing Hotel bar. Adam and the rest of the staff were friendly and served us up a nice end to the day.
Sunday Morning at The Wyalusing Hotel
Sunday morning, Jane was glowing, on the balcony at The Wyalusing Hotel.
Sunday Morning at Jim and Melissa’s ‘Party House’
On Sunday morning, Jim and Melissa hosted a farewell breakfast at their ‘Party House’ just outside Wyalusing. This house, believe it or not, is 167 years old (The larger section on the left was built in 1850. The section on the right was built in 1908.). Jim and Melissa have completely remodeled it, leaving little more than the original wood-inlaid floor in the family room, and the beautiful wooden banister to the upstairs. It is a perfect venue for any large get-together.
We’re looking forward to seeing all these folks back at the next Kinsley Family Reunion in Virginia in 2019!
1. Take more photos
So, one of my regrets from this weekend is that I should have taken more photos. We only get to see these people every couple of years, and I only took individual and family photos of a fraction of them. The trade-off is in how much time you have available to get to know people. I hope they all come back in two years, and I’ll give it another shot.
2. Sometimes you need a backdrop
I considered bringing a backdrop on this trip, but the reason I decided against it was because I figured that in any venue where I wanted to take photos, there would be at least one wall that could serve as a flattering backdrop. Well, not always.
In a pinch, what I should have done is use a floor-mounted flash with a colored gel to give the wall color better contrast with the subjects.
3. Inside shots are a good reason for having a full frame camera
I took these shots using a Nikon D500 DSLR. This is supposed to be one of the best cameras available for taking photos in low light conditions. But, because it is also a cropped sensor camera, it only uses the center portion of the full field of view of my full frame prime lenses, giving them an effective 1.5x increase in focal length. This built-in zoom forced me to compensate by using a 10-24mm wide angle lens for many of my inside shots during the reunion dinner (equivalent to a 15-36mm lens on a cropped sensor camera). But my wide angle lens only has a very limited aperture (f/3.5-4.5), so it doesn’t collect a lot of light.
Full frame cameras generally have better low light capability than cropped sensor cameras, because their larger pixels are able to collect more light, which then creates a stronger signal as compared with the background electronic noise. If I had used a full frame camera, then in addition to better low light performance, I could have used my existing 35mm f/1.8 prime lens, or possibly my 50mm f/1.4G prime lens, both of which have much wider apertures to let in more light. You can get a sense of the difference here by comparing the brightness of some of the family photos above.