Next week, my dad’s side of the family is gathering in the St. Louis area for a family reunion, of a sort. My grandma is turning 85 next week and my grandpa turned 85 earlier this year. We’re celebrating these milestones with a gathering of my immediate family, my aunts & uncles, my cousins, etc. We haven’t all been together in about 7 years.
I was asked to put together a video slideshow of pictures of the whole family.
While going through old pictures I found this one:
There are 2 things about this pictures that strike me as odd: 1) My arms and legs are tan. I am not sure I have been tan since this picture was taken. And 2) I don’t remember much from my younger childhood years, but I remember every bit about when this picture was taken.
Growing up, my family didn’t take recreational vacations. Ever. We lived so far away from family that anytime my parents were off work, and we were out of school, those times were reserved for visiting family afar (think the girl pictured above on road trips in the back of a 1988 Buick Skylark sitting between 2 older brothers).
The reason this picture and the memories around it are so vivid is how odd it was. We were at a family reunion (similar to the one taking place next week) camping in Branson, MO. It was one of the first (and only) times I remember vacationing with my family in an unfamiliar, new place. One afternoon on the trip, some of us decided to go to Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
that’s the real building in Branson, MO
I remember walking around with my Aunt Nonnie (her real name is Diane) looking at all of the oddities, when we came across that statue. It is an exact replica of the World’s Tallest Man: Robert Wadlow.
Isn’t that just plain wild? I mean, the dude was almost 9ft tall, at 8ft. 11 inches. Because I was freakishly tall as a child, I am probably not much shorter at about 8 years old in that picture, than I am now at almost 25 (I am 5ft tall).
Ever since our encounter at Ripley’s, he’s continued fascinate me. And is an odd memory that has stuck with me—that was also made odder by the fact that my grandma used to work in a shoe-shop in the Illinois town that Robert Wadlow was from. She used to help make his custom size 37 shoes. No, really.