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Magazine Review: Reunions

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Reunions is one of those niche magazines that amazes you with all the stuff that goes in its world. As you might suspect, this glossy magazine, published bimonthly in Milwaukee, is solely dedicated to reunions, of families, school classes, military units and whatever other group finds that its bonds of old need renewing. We’ve just received the April/May issue, and it’s filled with a blizzard of advice about planning, publicizing and carrying out successful reunions.

By far the most affecting article in the issue was written by the father of a severely disabled, blind and largely uncommunicative son who’s approaching 50 years of age. The author and his wife have several other children and a host of grandchildren, and are worried that when they pass on, the grandchildren — cautious of and perhaps intimidated by their uncle, who they know only from brief holiday dinners — will no longer include him in family gatherings. So they arranged a 10-day cruise for all of them, and used the opportunity for the grandchildren to spend some quality time with their son, even screening a “day in the life of” video for them to see how he copes with life. It’s a good read, not mawkish, and describes some effective techniques for dealing with a difficult problem that affects a great many families.

You’ll also find a short report about a four-day reunion in Shelby, NC of 500 people from 22 states, all descendants of slaves who toiled on three plantations owned by the same family. It was the 100th annual reunion of this group, organized in 1906 by three former slaves. The article reports that the “extended family includes renowned artists, a best-selling writer, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and a parade of educators, business people and preachers.” One interesting note: the cooking at this reunion has traditionally been done by the womenfolk, but “too much of the cooking burden was put on a new generation of women with both families and jobs, so the picnic is catered now.”

A couple of pages in each issue are devoted to military reunions. One such reunion, to be hosted by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in August 2007, is for crewmembers of the 28 submarines built in Manitowic, WI during World War II and for the shipyard workers who built them.

Reunions has a prosperous look: its colorful pages are bursting with ads from hotel chains, resorts, and city and state convention and tourist bureaus anxious to garner as many reunions as possible.

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