Saturday, June 19, 2010

Juneteenth 1865, 1920, 1925 & 2003

Harris Robison, Lois Ridnour, Carroll Robison, Ruth Ridnour & either Trix or Poochie. (Back of photo says "Trix & Poochie" but I can only see one dog. Mom's beloved pet was Poochie, so I'm guessing she's holding Poochie not Trix.)

Juneteenth is an African-American holiday which began in Texas as 'Freedom Day'. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued September 22, 1862 with an effective date of January 1, 1863. It wasn't until June 19, 1865 that the news of their freedom reached slaves in Texas. The Civil War had been over two months and ten days.

It was most likely the Poor Peoples March to Washington, D.C. led by the Rev. Ralph Abernathy in 1968 when I first was aware of Juneteenth and its meaning. There has been an Iowa celebration of the date for at least twenty years.

June 19 to me had a more personal meaning - it was the birthdate of two of my aunts. Mom's little sister, Lois, was born June 19, 1920. In the picture above with Aunt Lois and Mom are two of their cousins - Harris and Carroll Robison. The boy's mom, Merle Means Robison and the girl's mother, Delphia Means Ridnour, were first cousins.

Harris died four months after his 17th birthday in May of 1936. There's no date on this picture, but I don't think it could have been taken too long before he died. His obituary says he died of complications after a severe attack of the flu. I could tell by the way Mom talked of him many years later that the death of Harris affected her deeply.

Ruth Lynam and Leona Lynam Childers Shropshire beside the lemon tree in Leona's backyard in Phoenix, AZ, 1999.

Five years after Mom's little sister was born, Dad's little sister, Leona Maxine Lynam, was born - June 19, 1925. When I was young I wondered how my parents both had sisters with the same birthdate. I also found it fascinating that they both had sisters named Evelyn. (Dad's sister, Evelyn Lois, was born May 8, 1923 and died May 12, 1923. Mom's sister, Evelyn Grace Ridnour Roberts was born November 28, 1916; died June 1, 2000.)

For Mom's 80th birthday, we gave her a trip to Arizona to visit her sister-in-law. It was her first ride in a commercial airliner and she loved it. I think Mom and Aunt Leona were fairly close. Aunt Leona was only twelve when Mom & Dad married. Mom was the big sister Aunt Leona would have had.

Celebrating his 70th birthday, Ron's family - Nicholas, Tina & Andrew Lynam; Dale & Christine Heidebrecht; Ronald & Marge Lynam; Carston, Lorrie & Kevin Yoakum; in front, Erick & Aiden Yoakum.

June 19, 2003 found us celebrating two more birthdays. Kevin & Lorrie Lynam Yoakum's twin sons, Aiden & Erick, were born that day. For twin brothers, they seem nothing alike, but they are both equally special in their own way. I have high hopes of knowing these two for many years to come.

Juneteenth has a personal celebratory meaning for me.

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