Early Days of the Livingston Watson family reunion
[Reprinted from Livingston/Watson News, Issue V, December 1990]
Lynn Skaife recalls overhearing a conversation when he was about 12 years old that may give us a hint as to how the reunion got started. Lynn’s father, Elmer Skaife, and Dr. Tom Livingston, “DOC,” who was visiting from New Mexico, were sitting out on the porch at the Skaife farm. They were talking about how there should be a family picnic. . .
And sure enough a picnic was planned in 1923. Kathryn Rosemeyer remembers her mother, Eva Livingston Bailey, preparing it around the visit of her uncle, Doc, and his wife, Lottie. It was held in the park as you may be guessed. Kathryn recalls her mother frying chickens and spreading tablecloths on the picnic tables and the ground. Invitation was informally by word of mouth. Everyone had such a good time it was agreed to have it again the next year. Vi Livingston recollects that she couldn’t attend the first picnic because her one year old child had a bad case of whooping cough.
From a simple picnic, the reunion evolved into a two-day affair complete with costumes, music, skits and dancing. A platform was built onto the bandstand; a piano was moved onto the stage. A woman unrelated to the family, Ann Hocking Smith, produced hometown plays and would come into town ahead of time to direct the program.
Claude Watson was also involved in arranging the program. All ages were encouraged to participate. The children practiced their skits and routines at Grace Livingston’s mother’s house. There seemed to be no lack of talent. Two girls from Platteville, Doris Huntington and Jane Hill, were known for their ballet performances. Nell Livingston exercised her Irish sense of humor. Johnny Watson and Russell Hill always sang. “Pins” Livingston, the owner of the hotel, and Jack Watson paired up to form a comedy team and would quip at each other on stage.
In addition to the entertainment, there was a baseball game at the high school between the Livingstons and the Watsons.
They were usually lucky to have good weather. The food was outstanding. Everyone looked forward to Vi Livingston’s delicious apple pies.
Presidents from the early years:
William C Livingston – 1st year
Jack Watson – 2nd year
Vi Livingston – 3rd year
Greta Howdle, Nick and Kay Kramer, Vi Livingston, Kathryn Rosemeyer, Lynn Skaife.