Every first weekend in August during my childhood, there was a big family reunion for the Hunt family, because August 2nd was Grandma Hunt’s birthday, and it was summertime so everyone could travel. I remember at least two times the reunion was held at the famous amusement park, Lagoon, in Farmington, Utah. This particular reunion, my mom, who was the in-law to this Hunt family, made us all matching T-shirts, and we won “best dressed” family, of course. Grandma Hunt as a banner reading “grandest grandma” on it. In spite of being an in-law, my mom loved Grandma Hunt and related well to her. Grandma Hunt loved sewing and hand-sewing work especially, and canning bottled jams and jellies and fruit, too. So did my mom. The Hunt reunion was also held at Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, once or twice, and once at Logan, Utah, at Adams Park. Aunt Helen Marie lived nearby Adams Park, and it was easy to hold it there that year as Grandma Hunt had been moved to Sunshine Terrace in Logan for elder care. We could call her Elder Hunt now, I guess, getting all that elder care. It was sad to see her there instead of her nice home in Evanston, Wyoming. We also held week-long Rex Reunions every other summer, but that’s another blog for another day.
Mom was just learning to sew using knit fabrics, which is quite a feat, mind you. We’re all in knit shirts, you’ll notice, and this was one of her first endeavors in the new fabric. Unlike non-stretch fabrics, you have to be very careful with knits or the seams all bunch up, and you end up with a shirt that looks like a hot-air balloon being filled up for take-off. My mom is an expert seamstress now, after keeping 7 kids clothed in a limited budget. She sewed lots of shirts for us boys, but we almost always bought the pants. However, one time when “carpenter” or “painter” pants were just coming in style, my mom saw some at the store, saw how expensive they were, then figured she could easily sew some “extras” onto some pants, “extras” like a pretend place to hang your hammer, your paintbrush, etc., and so she made me some. I must’ve been a bit more adventurous than my brother, Brian, as he stuck with the store-bought jeans. The pants turned out great. They’re called cargo pants now, with extra pockets here and there, but they were painter or carpenter pants back then, and were modeled on the real work pants that carpenters and painters used. I imagine some French fashion designer being so intrigued by the uniform of a painter, that the designer just gets this bee in his bonnet and comes up with a way to market painter or carpenter pants as a style. Voila, a new trend is born. The painter pants my mom made turned out great.
They fit me well; they looked almost exactly like the store-bought, ones, and I got asked out because of my jeans. Lori Blackburn asked me out to the Sadie Hawkins dance, which was a girl-ask-guy type, a really wild idea back in 1976, and she used my nice-looking pants as a way to get into my pants . . . oops, I don’t mean it that way. I mean, she used my pants as segue into asking me out on a date. She was so impressed with the way I looked in the pants, I mean mom fitted them so nicely to me, you realize, plus I gained a few pounds that year in high school, and filled out the legs and butt nicely, that Lori just couldn’t contain herself and asked me out, and asked me to wear those canvas-colored, off-white linen look, pants to match hers for the dance. So, we went, got pictures of the painter jeans, and danced the night away. As the school year wore on–Sadie Hawkins was in the fall–I outgrew the pants and split the seams, literally, as I put them on one morning. Mom said she couldn’t expand them any, so they went the way of all the earth, and I said to them, “For dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.” I then buried them. Kind of like I buried all my feelings, too. Fun ending to that part of the pant’s story, though. As you look below in the various photos, one photo is the old painted side of the Grass Valley Mercantile Co., in Koosharem, UT, where we had the 2018 Rex Reunion. The deep-knee bend ruined my painter’s pants.
The trouble with the dance, and school life, and pants was this: I wanted to go to the dance with Lori’s next older brother, Danny. Unlike Lori, Danny was a boy, plus he’d just gotten his braces off so he was extra gorgeous, whereas Lori still had hers on. I think the being a boy was the bigger issue for me, though. LOL. Danny had dark curly hair to go with the big smile.
Well, back to the Hunt Family Reunion of 1974. Maybe it was 1973; I’ll have to ask Aunt Janice; she knows how to connect all the dots and find clues in the picture to determine when it really was. The reunion, like most, was very fun. Lots of good food, fun, laughing and playing, and being part of a family that loved me. I tried to be what I thought they all wanted of me; a nice, straight boy. It wasn’t so much a conscious effort on my part or that I was hiding. It was just that being gay was not an acceptable choice back then. I was told you couldn’t be gay; you just couldn’t or you’d be thrown into hell. Plus, gays were gross, sickened, sinful, awful, devilish, repugnant. Repugnant means not accepted by your family. So, I thought I could just be straight; everyone else was, so why not me? The years of self-loathing accumulated, though, and it wasn’t until 2013, that’s 40 years if Aunt Janice can pinpoint the year of the photo, that I determined it was either I must come out of the closet or die depressed. What a choice, huh?
This week, tomorrow, August 7th, 2018, my dad turns 80 years old. We had a big family reunion to celebrate his birthday, too, and I wrote last month in anticipation of it. I hadn’t seen some of my siblings for years. How would they react to gaily-married me? Would they bake me a cake, or not? Well, we all avoided difficult topics, I guess, like politics and religion, mostly, so we made it through. But, did we really relate or did we just get along because we’re family? Maybe that’s what families do, it’s just I always thought my family was perfect, and so was I, and, well, I guess I have to lower my expectations a bit, of myself and of my family. I had a gay time. My family are all wonderful, good people, even if some of them voted for Trump. I guess that’s part of getting along. Getting a long what? Getting a long line of family. Oh, and one final thing. My son Mikal now has an early August birthday, August 6th, so he can join the long line of Family Reunion/Birthday combo’s.
From top left to right the additional pictures are:
A. Four generations of Rex fathers. Taken in 1988 at Richfield, UT. I meant to get a 4 generation picture, but I was having too much fun.
B. Papa David holding his grand-daughter, Mia. Lots of Grandpa’s in this family now.
C. Grandpa Rex holding Zoe, his grand-daughter. If you look closely, Zoe looks a lot like her dad in the 1974 photo above, where my mom is holding Nathan, Zoe’s dad, at about age 3 or 4.
D. The Rex Family, 2018.
E. Papa David pretending he knows how to drive an ATV; thanks to Grandpa Rex, we all enjoyed 4-wheelin’ around Koosharem and environs.
F. We got to see Aunt Jeanette and Aunt Janice, who will remember even more Hunt Family Reunions than me.
G. Grandpa Rex holding Zoe, his grand-daughter. If you look closely, Zoe looks a lot like her dad in the 1974 photo above, where my mom is holding Nathan, Zoe’s dad, at about age 3 or 4. (Well, hell, I don’t know why two of the same photos show up on this thing; what do I look like, Bill Gates?)
H. The side of the local mercantile store, with an old painted “billboard” advertisement about ripping the seams of your overalls, which meshes nicely with my story above about ripping the seams of my painter’s pants (see above story). More about this in my story above. Read the damn story, above. Get it?