Sitting in a lovely living room overlooking the Pacific Ocean, leisurely chatting about family and genealogy may seem an unlikely start to this report of the Reunion at Geneva-on-the-Lake, but that’s how it happened. Fris Campbell, Pete’s cousin and longtime FFFAA member, gave us a newsletter announcing the gathering because Columbus, Ohio, our home, is far closer to Ashtabula County than Kailua, Hawaii.
Typically, when travelling, you pick up lots of stuff you really “think” you need or want, and important items get hidden in the stack. So did the Family Bulletin, until just a few days before the Reunion was to occur. A quick phone call to Fred and Carol Frisbie, this year’s organizers, and the Boutons were on their way.
Thursday evening: meet-and-greet at the chosen accommodations, complete with pizza, sodas, Lake Erie wines and literature about the area. Friday: free time until dinner at the Lakehouse Inn restaurant on the shore of Lake Erie. Saturday: 2012 business meeting at 9 AM, free time, then dinner at the SPIRE’s FUEL and facility tour. Sunday: Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum tour; lunch with the Ashtabula Frisbies at Lakeside Park. Nice and easy.
That was the weekend in a nutshell. But here’s what REALLY happened!
Thursday, our travel day, was greeted with tremendous storms. It nearly blew Mickey Owens (IN) off the road, and the forecast for the weekend didn’t sound much better. We checked in at the Motel 6 at the corner of I-90 and SR 534, dodging rain drops. Between showers, Mickey stood outside, worrying about her sister, Barbara, who was driving up from Kentucky. Little did she realize that her sister, having missed the motel, was sightseeing in downtown Geneva-on-the-Lake!
Mary and Don Frisbie (IA) arrived with all the paraphernalia necessary for the many hats that Mary wears for the FFFAA (Secretary/Treasurer & Newsletter Editor). They, too, had encountered the storms enroute, although nothing they did could force the clouds back toward drought-ridden Iowa. Will and Lucile Frisbee (NY) brought the most wonderful maple syrup from their farm. When Pete and I finish the syrup we purchased, it’s very likely that we’ll be visiting Delhi, NY, long before 2014. And I might add, finding another Frisbee was reassuring! Eric Frisbie and his father Donald flew in from the Philadelphia area, the site of the 2010 Reunion.
In the late afternoon, Fred & Carol Frisbie, our hosts, spread out stacks of brochures about the area, set out the boxes of pizza and opened a large cooler with beverages in the motel Conference Room and we began assembling. Then, for us at least, the challenge of remembering names, faces and how they all fitted together began.
Bob Frisbie (president of the local Frisbie group) and his wife, Anne, brought an invitation to the local Frisbie Reunion (their 90th!) on Sunday.
Susan Field and her father, James LaMarsh, (AL) arrived a bit later than planned. I-71 in Ohio greeted them with storms and a tie-up from a wreck that added a lot more time to their travels than they wanted. It’s a L.O.N.G trip from Birmingham and Huntsville even without any hold-ups! Luckily, there was plenty of food! Jim told us that Susan is looking for a connection for the Daughters of the Confederacy.
Friday morning after breakfast at the little restaurant next door, Don and Mary Frisbie joined us and off we went to find as many covered bridges as we could. Ashtabula County is famous for them. They have all five types of bridges: the Howe truss, Pratt truss, Town lattice truss, Burr Arch and Inverted Haupt truss. Aren’t you excited to know that? Well, we found 12 of the 16 bridges. They date from 1867 to 2008 (no, not a typo), and include the longest covered bridge in the US, the Smolen-Gulf, a Pratt Truss construction and newest, built in 2008; and the shortest, in Geneva, a whopping 18 feet, built by the A-Tech kids. I have to hand it to Pete: he didn’t flinch even once when we told him where to go! We have lots of photos of the bridges, and if we had reversed the rather poor tourist map a bit earlier, we could have found them all. The bridges had specific addresses that the GPS could have found. On one of our roundabouts we stumbled across a little roadside stand, at a place where two roads came to a T, selling WV peaches. Later, we scouted out Geneva-on-the-Lake (to make sure we would know where to find the restaurant for that evening), and had lunch at a gyro stand next to the fabled Madsen Donuts. We never did find the shop that was supposed to have the best Lake Erie perch or walleye sandwiches, but we certainly saw a lot of large, black clouds! Fred and Carol had promised and kept promising a spectacular sunset for dinner that night. We all thought… right. Sunset. Anyone have a magic wand?
We returned to the motel to prepare for dinner. Mary and Don Frisbie’s son and daughter-in-law (Brian & Lisa) arrived in the late afternoon from near Huron, MI. It is so nice to see the younger generation taking an interest in their ancestry. The skies were still threatening when Pete and I teamed up with Will and Lucile Frisbee for the trip to the Lakeside Inn Restaurant. The location was lovely, right on the lake bank: terraced patios leading down to the water; gorgeous perennials providing blasts of color… but the clouds simply kept hanging around. As a precaution, the folks at the restaurant had moved our venue into a large tent. Little by little, chairs were moved from inside the tent to an outside patio; nervous glances kept peering at the sky. When the food arrived we went back inside the tent to our preordered dinner choices: salmon or steak. Fred and Carol had arranged for a lovely cake, and there were many eager partakers. At first, we didn’t notice when blue sky began to appear on the horizon. The clouds continued moving to the south and before we left, just as Fred had promised, we were treated to a truly spectacular sunset! [Photo: Back row L-R: Pete Bouton, Bob Frisbie, Brian Frisbie, Don Frisbie, Jim LaMarsh, Donald Frisbie, Will Frisbee, Fred Frisbie; Middle L-R: Barbara Owen, Carol Frisie, Barbara Bouton, Anne Frisbie, Mary Frisbie, Lisa Frisbie, Susan Field, Eric Frisbie; Front L: Mickey Owen; Front R: Lucile Frisbee. Missing from the picture but foremost in our thoughts is Kyle Frisbie, Eric’s son who assisted his dad with the 2010 reunion in Philadelphia, who is serving in Afghanistan. Our prayers are with him and his unit!
Saturday heralded the 9:00 AM FFFAA General Meeting. Eric Frisbie called the meeting to order, and many topics were discussed. You can read about all of that in Mary’s minutes. After the meeting concluded, we were on our own until 5:30 PM. Fred had told us about an annual beef roast, but although there seemed little interest at the time, almost all of us ended up there for lunch. The Harpersfield Volunteer Fire Department’s 38th Annual Beef Roast is a fund raiser for the Fire Department. Volunteers, in 2 ½ days, roasted 4800 pounds (in 25 lb. chunks) on spits over split logs to the delight of diners who came from far and wide to enjoy juicy sandwiches, onion rings, French fries, ice cream and lemonade made to order in a cocktail shaker. Delicious!
Saturday evening’s dinner was held at the SPIRE Institute at the institute’s restaurant, FUEL. After a delicious buffet, the sister of the owner/builder of this incredible non-profit venue gave us an unforgettable tour. SPIRE caters not only to Olympic athletes and hopefuls, but Paralympic-athletes, other people with disabilities, school groups, civic organizations, etc. It is a cutting edge sports facility complete with dormitories for athletes who live and train there. We only saw a portion of the facilities but there is no way to describe how impressed we all were. If you have the time, please go online to pireinstitute.org to see more about this fantastic place.
Sunday, after breakfast, FFFAA member Bob Frisbie, director and chief tour guide, at the Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum, gave us one of the best tours we have ever experienced in any museum or venue! Life on the Great Lakes came alive! Don’t wait for another reunion to visit Ashtabula. It’s SO worth the trip! After the Museum tour, those of us who didn’t have to catch a plane or leave early because of other obligations, attended the 90th Annual Frisbie Reunion at the Lakeshore Park where we had the opportunity to meet “cousins” that were heretofore unknown to us. Lunch was pot luck, and there were many lucky pots!
These Frisbies epitomize hospitality – not to mention are great cooks! Bob and Anne (of the museum) are so dedicated to the Frisbies that they spent their 50th anniversary there at the reunion! It was a great weekend.
For those of you who didn’t attend, I hope you are regretting not making the trip – at least a little bit. Reunions come and go – high school, college, fraternity/sorority, but somehow, family reunions have that special something that sets them apart. I hope you will include the 2014 FFFAA Reunion in your planning now. Two years can go by in a flash!
From the desk of the new FFFAA Genealogist:
If you have questions or need assistance chasing your FFF ancestors, please send me what you DO know and I will do my very best to help you in your quest. I’m not Norah Frisbie (I would have loved to have known her), but I, also, am passionate about genealogy. I would like you to be, too.
66557 Merwin Rd.,
Columbus, OH 43235