Minnesota Family Fun and Slattery Family Reunion: August 20-24, 2004


Leisurely Morning at Mark’s

All we knew about the plans for Saturday was that we were supposed to be over at Uncle Mike’s at one in the afternoon for the family reunion; in addition, we had tentatively agreed to meet Dave and Candy before that for a late brunch or a light early lunch. But the morning got more complicated when Robert spent an hour or more playing downstairs on my computer, Vanessa and Aurora went out food shopping, and Mark decided to make scrambled eggs with cheese. As a result, we ate breakfast in two shifts, and then Robert and I played out in the driveway with Brady and a neighbor’s kid while Mark and Vanessa and Aurora scrambled to get ready. Vanessa wanted Mark to get a haircut, but he didn't want to waste the time, so he asked Robert just to shave the back of his neck to even things out. Things got out of hand, however, with the razor in Robert's hand, and soon he was shaving Mark's back, as you can see from this shot. It was an exciting moment for spectators. Meanwhile, outside, the neighbor child was really cute when playing with Brady: at four years old, and an only child, he pulls Brady around by the hand and shows him how to use an automatic whiffle-ball pitching machine (yes, such a thing exists). When we said that we had to go, and he had to say goodbye to Brady, he cried and yelled, “my baby, mine!” and tried to hang on to Brady. Sadly, we tore the baby away anyway and drove over to Culver’s (a wonderful midwestern burger chain with burgers cooked in butter and thick frozen-custard shakes--both highly recommended by Dave and Mark) for that "light" lunch.

At lunch, all squashed in a corner round booth, with onion rings and great burgers and fries galore, I looked down at my lap and noticed a french fry. Oh, I thought, I guess I must have dropped it. I picked it up, mildly annoyed at getting a small grease stain on my new pink cargo pants (“Pink pants?” groaned a tween-age Aurora, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in pink pants!”). A minute or so later, I noticed another fry and another grease stain, right next to the first. That’s odd, I thought, I haven’t even been eating the fries. Oh well. I picked it up and didn’t think about it again until I noticed a french fry sailing through the air in an arc and landing right next to the other two grease stains on my lap. The source of the flying fries, with perfectly consistent aim? Brady, of course—Mark explained that Jerry had helpfully taught Brady the joys of throwing food the last time they were together, and Brady had apparently learned his lesson well.

Slattery Family Reunion at Uncle Mike’s

The afternoon of the official family reunion was sunny but chilly, and very relaxing and low-key. With nearly everyone attired in their “Slattery Reunion” tee-shirts, and many people glad of the warmth of an extra layer, family milled about the lawn behind Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy’s house, spilling over into the basement for the buffet line, the volleyball court, and the pontoon boat on the lake. Show-off Brian, practically doing wheelies on the Sea-doo waterbike, was the only one to venture out into more water sports, although Aurora did spend about four hours playing in the mud and shallow water near Uncle Mike’s dock, with Pika, the dog. Aurora had fun—she discovered lots of interesting rocks, and she dug up clay from the lake bed to make sculptures—but had to be practically dragged from the water at the end of the day. On the subject of happy children, consider Brady (below), who was nearly given his first beer at the tender age of one year old--if his teasing uncle Brian had had his way, at least.


Meanwhile, Grandma Gracie held court at one end of the yard, Dave collapsed a lounge chair under him when he went to sit down, and everyone posed for what felt like endless group pictures. In the middle of the afternoon, Dave, Candy, Jerry, and I ran over to a nearby gas station and realized we were still all wearing our matching dress-length tee shirts while we wandered about inside.

At 6:30, Mark and Vanessa took Brady home, and most of the other out-of-town cousins had long since left. Dave and Candy and Robert and I spent a good two and a half hours trying to decide what we were going to do—Mall of America, Porkie’s in St. Paul at University and Snelling, drive-in, regular movie, or what. We were somewhat hindered by Dave and Robert’s attempt (unsuccessful, I might add) to get Uncle Mike’s downstairs computer up and working, but we eventually decided to pick up Jerry and a friend and head over to Porkie’s after all. Below, during the seemingly endless planning stage (and in a repeat of a stunt from three years earlier) Robert holds all three girls and then we all pose in size order. The redness of Robert's face in the holding picture is not from the sun; all three girls grew considerably in three years, and Robert really had to work to prove himself on this one.

Post-Reunion Porky’s Expedition

Unfortunately, coming from 494 up Snelling to University, we turned right on University instead of left, and we ended up driving all the way down to the St. Paul state house before we decided to turn around and ask for directions. Robert, Aurora, and I in the convertible pulled up to a bus stop and asked a fat man if he knew where Porkie’s was. Indeed the man did, and he gave us not only detailed directions and the exact street address, but also a social history of the burger institution. Very pleased with our success, and with Aurora’s help at spotting addresses and street signs, we swiftly navigated back to Porkie’s, having only detoured twenty minutes or so out of our way. Porkie’s was certainly happening, with the parking lot overflowing with classic cars, parked with their hoods open to display their gleaming engines and parts, and their owners sitting in lawn chairs in front of their restored babies. The crowd ranged from kids to old folks, with a fair number of middle-aged people, and we had a great time wandering around the lot and people- (and car-) watching. We heard the occasional rev of an engine on the street and thought we might have seen the very beginning of a street race, but it was a completely safe, family-like environment. Having ordered our burgers, cookies, Cokes, and onion rings, we were eating them on a ledge by the side of the parking lot when a tow truck ominously appeared, and all the illegally parked folks (including us) scattered for the evening.

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Created: 8/26/04. Last Modified: 8/26/04.