Descendants of
Conrad and Margaret Pickert
Family Reunion - Saturday, July 18, 2009

Here is a wonderful way for us to learn about and know our family members better. Thanks for sharing and keep 'em coming... #) is the generation. I may come up with something better than this, but it works for now. ;-)

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Fran and Jerry Hundley >
3) Eric
and Kelley Hundley > 4) Maddi Hundley 4) Ty Hundley
We are always looking for an excuse to visit our relatives in Chicago, but unfortunately cannot make the reunion this year.  There are too many great memories to share in such a limited amount of space, but the numerous weddings seem to always result in the best stories. Being one of the youngest cousins, I remember the weddings of the late '70s and '80s being particularly fun.  I suppose some of the other cousins have some of the same memories of running around, being told to behave ourselves and also being among the first to be allowed to attack the wedding cakes! As we became older, and had our own weddings, I enjoyed seeing the children of those same cousins enjoy the same exerience we all had when we were younger. 

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Harold and Mary Alice Pickert
One late night during the Korean War I was returning from a day trip to Tokyo to my ship, which was tied up to a dock at the Yokosuka Navel Base. As I approached the ship, I realized that the flood lights were on because they taking on supplies. The news was that the North Koreans had made a successful attack and were pushing our troops south! Our orders were to proceed to Inchon (Port of Seaul) and standby to evacutate troops and equipment, if needed.

I mailed a letter to Don (Pickert) with an ETA. The first morning after arrival in Inchon, I was awakened by Don shaking my leg! I had been to Inchon on previous trip to the Pacific, this time most of the main buldings were bombed out! There was little to offer ashore and Don had to report back to his MP unit before dark so I decided to provide him with things that were not available to him ashore: Several games of ping pong, he won against all comers! Items from the ship's store not available to him. I was able to get him a steak dinner and two dozen ice cream cups for his buddies! A few days later our troops were pushing the enemy north, and we received orders to proceed to Hong Kong for R&R.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Bernice (Pickert) and Robert Brummel >
3) Sharon (Brummel)
and Dana White > 4) Philip Conrad White
My memories of family, I’m sure I’ll remember more as time goes on...

When you forgot something from another room and had to go back to get it, Mom (Bernice (Pickert) Brummel) would say: “If you don’t use your head, you have to use your feet”. I still think of this, sadly almost daily.

Watching my mom make pies, she really loved making pies and oh how I wish I could have one more of her pies.

Joyce’s potato salad, she shared her secret with us: mince the vegetables. (I see a theme in my memories; maybe I should have eaten breakfast before I typed this.)

Jean ratted me out to Mom and Dad the first time I got drunk. Being that drunk and that sick was so miserable I never did it again.

Donna took me and a friend to the Museum of Science and Industry. I literally lost my lunch after seeing the fetuses in the jars.

Tom, well he may not be too happy I’m sharing this but, it was the time of Elvis and his mutton chop sideburns. Tom’s sideburns were not as thick as Elvis’ so he would use eyebrow pencil to ‘darken in his ’burns’.

Being the youngest in the family, I’m sure they all have many stories of me.

I remember family stopping by on Daisy Street and Dad (Robert J. Brummel) sitting with them in lawn chairs in the garage doorway, while Mom was usually in the house making something for them to eat. If she had unexpected company for dinner, she would open a can of fruit or add an additional can of vegetables, or both depending on how many extra guests there were, to ‘make the meal stretch’ as Mom called it..

I don’t remember details about my parents 25th wedding anniversary mock wedding, but the one thing I do remember is laughter, I had never heard a room full of adults (I was nine years old at the time) laugh that much or that loud. Up to that point, I didn’t think adults had much fun or hardly laughed at all.

Dana remembers my Mom as being a good cook, and when we were first dating she would always inviting him over for dinner. Dana didn’t think the apple fell far from the tree, but after we were married, he discovered the apple was on the other side of the orchard. Dana enjoyed tinkering and fixing whatever was broken, in the garage, with my Dad. I remember being out in the garage with Dad, too. He would cut or gouge himself pretty deeply and just grab a dirty old rag and wrap it around whatever was bleeding. But he had gout, and it would stop him in his tracks. He said gout was like putting your toe in a vice and tightening the vice as much as it would go then give the vice one more rotation. As a young girl, my attitude was, yeah-okay-whatever. Then in my 40s I had my first experience with gout...I now know exactly what he meant.

Phil remembers the cookie ‘jar’. It was actually a white rectangle Tupperware container. It was always full and it was always in the same place in the same kitchen cabinet at Grandma and Grandpa Brummel’s house. The cookies were store-bought, Mom hated making cookies. Phil remembers playing cards, well not actually playing cards, but not being allowed in the room when the card games were going on. No kids allowed by the card table…we were having some serious fun playing cards.

Mom lit up and could hardly contain her excitement when there was a party coming up. She would literally have her clothes laid out a week before the occasion in the spare bedroom, complete with jewelry, shoes and purse.

When we lived on Liberty Street in Aurora, I remember waking up from a nap when I was about five or six years old and I went outside. Everyone in the neighborhood was outside and Mom was crying and very nervous. Turns out, Mom couldn’t find me for two hours. I had fallen asleep on a spare room’s bed. She saw something on the bed but thought it was clothes.

I remember being at Mom and Dad’s house one Easter Sunday (I believe was the occasion) and the living room was full of people, all seats were full, the floor was full and there was standing room only, and we were watching this relatively new show called, “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. I remember thinking this is what it’s all about…the gathering of family.

Getting together with family (and friends, too), laughing, sharing, and laughing some more. That’s as good as it gets.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Martha (Pickert) and Harold Bollweg>
3) Doris (Bollweg)
and Rich McGuire > children: 4) Nolan McGuire 4) Brendan McGuire
Favorite memories- See Nancy, Joanie, and Donna's - plus- "Vacationing" at the Brummels in our summer cousin exchanges and riding bikes to a park and climbing on the monkey bars. Rosie would encourage us to climb ever higher! There is a photo of several of the cousins sitting along the top of the bars. I'm sure I'm hanging on for dear life.
We'd also swim and picnic at the Batavia Quary. That was always a big splash.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Martha (Pickert) and Harold Bollweg > 3) Joanie (Bollweg) and Walt Baczynski > 4) Marcia Anne Baczynski 4) Michael James Baczynski
My favorite memories involve driving to Aurora on Sundays to visit either Grandma and Grandpa or the Brummels. Donna described the short distance between the homes beautifully. On the drive to and from we would all sing, being there were four girls, we thought we sang like the Lennon Sisters, unfortunately NO ONE would pay to hear us sing, but it didn't matter because we were having fun. At grandma's house we liked to help her with her pie baking. In the summer time that meant sitting on the long side porch and peeling apples that we got from a neighbor's tree. Being always the competitors, that also meant seeing who could peel the apple having the longest peel (and for the sake of grandma's pies, leaving most of the apple).There were many happy memories on that porch and at the Brummels. Thank you all for bringing so many of them back. Sorry we won't be able to join you this time but have some good hearty laughs for us!

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Rosalie (Pickert) and Michael Christofidis > 3) Argyrios M. Christofidis 3) Mary Michelle Halekakis > 4) Yanni 4) Michael 4) Max 4) Gregory > 3) Rena
In June (or July) 1950, my brother Donnie drove to New York to pick up Valerie and Willie. They had crossed the Atlantic by ship and I understand that Valerie was very seasick. Back at the "Homestead"  735 Columbia, in Aurora, Illinois, Bobbie and I were young enough to still be in bed-Fran and Shirley having gone to work. I was gazing out the front bedroom window on a hot summer morning when I saw Donnie's car pull into the driveway. " THEY'RE HERE, THEY'RE HERE" I yelled to Bobbie in the other room. It was so exciting. We ran to the back porch and Valerie, with four month old Willie, in very hesitant English greeted us. Donnie was soon sent to Korea and Valerie was stuck with us. We have many memories of Willie hiding under Grandma's apron "out of sight", Valerie struggling with English-she couldn't buy sheets because it came out-wrong.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Robert (and Tonda) Pickert>
3) Mary Ellen (Pickert) Pozzebon
4) Hannah
My favorite memory is of going to Harold and Mary Alice's house for dinners as a kid and climbing into the forts their kids made in the woods.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Bernice (Pickert) and Robert Brummel >
3) Donna (Brummel)
and Dave Fowler > 4) Zachary Fowler 4) Kari Fowler 4) Edward and Holly Fowler > 5) Ian 5) Aaron > 4) Nicholas Fowler 4) Kathryn Fowler
Playing cards, spades and hearts, the other night with Dave, Zack and Nick, and Katie, reminded me of the marathon games we used to play with the Bollwegs.  By the way, thanks Nancy for that memory of dancing on the bed to the fabulous 45s. I remember the spotlight (a lamp pointed at the featured singer minus the shade). Well, getting back to the card games. The memories start with our vacation to either Warrenville or Aurora – if it was a Bollweg it was Aurora, if a Brummel it was Warrenville. Our parents switched kids for a couple of weeks, and with as many kids as there were in our families, this could last for many weeks, maybe half the summer. So they always had the same amount of kids, especially since there weren’t any extra beds, this worked out perfectly. Mary, Nancy, Joanie and Doris first had a bedroom all in one room on the main floor (correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t think Mary had a separate room to herself-the privilege of the oldest). It was the large room at the end of the hall to the left as I recall.  The Bollwegs did what my mom used to love to do, change bedrooms instead of moving. Then the attic was remodeled and they acquired a lovely dressing room/bath and a dormitory style room with Mary having an alcove to herself (the oldest), and the other three beds lined up towards the front window over the garage. A beautiful room. If you walked down the stairs it opened to the kitchen. Anyway, the cards. But first, let’s talk about the ballgames. Every night after supper, and I suspect even when there were no vacationers from Aurora, there was a ballgame in the vacant lot behind the Bollweg house and I think the neighborhood kids joined in(?). There were certain nicknames, the one I remember the best is Nancy’s (waltzing Matilda – we would serenade her at least once a night – for you youngsters, Waltzing Matilda is a song). Were there any other nicknames? We would play until dusk or nine innings, or the mosquitoes would chase us in maybe. This is where the memory is a little shady, did we play cards at that point, or were the cards played earlier in the day? It had to be at night at least sometimes since Harold liked to play hearts with us, he was really good at counting the cards. And then there was canasta. Of course, whether you were in Warrenville or Aurora, the card games went on. Another game we used to play nonstop all summer was badminton.  Keeping that birdie up in the air was a challenge to count how many times we could hit it back and forth without dropping it.  Ahhh, the summertime as kids, no cares in the world.  Except….. 
Another memory, of Grandma Pickert in the summer (she always wore house dresses with an apron, never any pants). I can still see her running the wringer washing machine in the basement on Columbia Street (the basement was painted red and reserved just for hanging wash in the wintertime). We grew up on Liberty, one street over and half a block down through the back yard and the neighbor’s the Harts back yard from Grandma and Grandpa Pickert (the Harts back yard was au naturale before its time, meaning all weeds, so every time we walked through the yard to get to Columbia Street, we walked through our back yard, then the Harts back yard, and looked for garter snakes, also we knew that their basement had a dirt floor and I think they were the ones who were rumored to have a pig stashed there). We were requested by my mom, Bernice, to run over to see Grandma to help her with hanging out the laundry outside on the wash lines every Monday. The wash lines, just like at our house, were hung from a hook on the house, wound around a tree, to a hook on the garage, until the back yard looked like a huge spider web. (My dad, Bob, made a spindle for the wash line that resembled a number symbol with two long prongs for either hand so when it was time to wind it up the line, it was easy). So after we were finished hanging our laundry out at our house, we were to rush over to Grandma’s and see if she still needed some help. She was usually almost finished, but we sometimes hung out a couple of baskets. Grandma and my mom too used pants stretchers to dry the men’s pants. If you can picture a wire contraption, rectangular, that was adjustable, there you have your pants stretchers. You just stuck one in each leg and the pants would dry without wrinkles, plus have a nice line down the front and back. And of course, there was a beautiful garden that had a great grape arbor with thick, rich concord grapes, just watch out for the bees, and lovely bachelor button flowers, yellow with a black center, and lots of snap peas. Grandma would always have us help her snap the peas on the looooong side porch. There were also many flowers that bordered the side of the yard, I’m not remembering the name of them right now, but I understand that Martha planted those. It’s those little white flowers in tiers.
There are many memories like those, thank you Bollwegs for helping to make them.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Bernice (Pickert) and Robert Brummel >
3) Joyce (Brummel) and Mike Larson
4) Todd and Lisa Larson > 5) Jordan 5) Kayley 5) Amanda
This memory is from Lisa...

One thing that I have been thinking about is how much Joyce loved to watch musicals. She loved Mary Poppins. She would have loved to have watched Kayley in her school play this past spring. Kayley sang for her on one of our visits to the hospital.

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Robert (and Tonda) Pickert>
3) Kitty (Pickert) Barstad
4) Andrew 4) Paige
”The Swing” at my dad’s place up north.  My sisters, brother and I spent hours and years perfecting the art of swinging around that tree on the swing while landing feet first (this is before cable tv and video games to entertain kids!).  We got very good at it over the years and used to have competitions, who could wrap the rope around that tree the most.  My brother always won.  The cousins used to come north, watch us fly around that tree and make it look easy and believe they could do it too. Ultimately someone always ended up hitting that tree back first and getting the wind knocked out of them.  I think most gave it up over the years.  If I remember correctly Ary may have actually mastered it! When we were younger we would beg our dad to give us an “under-duck”, run behind us and push us far up into the air. He was always there to do it and diligently made sure the rope was safe and replaced periodically. When Kelly was young my dad gave her an under-duck right up into the branches of that tree and into a wasp’s nest….needless to say the wasps were not pleased with the invasion from what I hear.  Below are four pictures; one of me sometime in the late 1970s (I can tell by the socks I have on!); one of Chris and his friend Greg on the swing with my dad’s Buick in the background (probably early 1980s); and one of Chris, my daughter Paige and a friend trying to replace the rope in the summer of 2006 so our kids could swing on it.  Unfortunately without the tools or our dad to help we were pretty pitiful (no doubt dad was looking down on us with scorn over our ridiculous attempt to replace that rope), and one of Chris after we got the rope replaced…we were pretty pleased with our success.  Chris still had it after all the years that had passed….wrapped that tree two times!!

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Martha (Pickert) and Harold Bollweg>
3) Nancy (Bollweg)
and Mike Zajano > children: 4) Rachel, 4) Maureen 4) Emily
A family story close to my heart is going to Uncle Bob and Aunt Bernice's when we were kids and realizing that once the adults started playing cards, we could get away with anything, as long as we didn't interrupt the card game.  So Joyce, Jean, Donna, and Mary, Nancy, Joan, and Doris would go to the upstairs bedroom, put on a stack of 45 records and dance on the beds for hours. What fun!

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Martha (Pickert) and Harold Bollweg >
3) Ken and Laura Bollweg > children: 4) Ryan, 4) Jenna 4) Jason
I was born on July 18, 1956 and my wife's name is Laura (Holloway), born April 13, 1966.  She grew up in Sheffield Lake, Ohio just west of Cleveland.  Ryan was born February 1, 1992, Jennifer (Jenna) November 11, 1995, and Jason, May 19, 2005 - all born in Houston.
Laura works for NASA at the Johnson Space Center in the training division.  She used to train flight controllers and astronauts to operate the Space Shuttle in emergency situations, with a focus on the Main Engines and Reaction Control Systems.  She went on to become a supervisor overseeing the development of training simulators for the International Space Station and is still telecommuting part-time while we are in Europe.
Ryan was an avid ice hockey player while we were in Houston and he played even more when we moved to Europe.  He was voted the most valuable player by his teammates and the coaches on the Under 16 team in Oxford, England after they went undefeated and won the division championship in 2008.  The only dissenting vote was mine as I was also a coach for his team and I voted for another kid!  He also played with a Junior team above his age division for a club in Geneva, Switzerland for the 2008-09 season.  While he enjoyed the hockey over here, he did not like living in Europe all that much.  Thus, he moved back to Houston a few weeks ago and just made the highest level (AA) team available in his age bracket.  He hopes to play in college while trying to earn an engineering degree...only time will tell!  Thanks to Ryan, I also turned into a hockey addict at the young age of 46.  I've been playing regularly since 2002 and have since become a certified coach and referee in the U.S. and England.
Jenna has thoroughly enjoyed living in Europe and has adapted to England and Switzerland/France extremely well.  She did not want to go to any American schools while here.  Instead, she attended typical English schools in Oxford and developed a very convincing English accent she has learned to turn on & off like a switch.  She has also been attending an all-French school in Switzerland and has become quite fluent at French.  She is our interpreter everywhere we go!  This experience has allowed her to attend school with kids from Japan, China, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Cuba, Mauritania, Nigeria, Romania, Switzerland, Germany, France, Ireland, Slovakia, Spain, Italy, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, India, and Pakistan.  She enjoys basketball, netball (an English version of basketball), tennis, ice hockey, and ping-pong.
Jason just turned four and has learned to speak a few words in French as well (probably more than me).  He also enjoys hockey, soccer, and making his parents chase him all over hell and high water.
I've been working at the Johnson Space Center since 1987.  I've managed dozens of projects for Lockheed and NASA, but spent most of my time on IMAX flights and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).  If you don't blink, you might spot my name in the credits for the IMAX movies titled "Blue Planet," "Destiny in Space," and "Mission to Mir."
I first started working on AMS in 1994 and it has sent me to a ~dozen countries in Europe & Asia over the years.  It is a high energy particle physics experiment designed to look for anti-matter and to study cosmic ray propagation in space.  A prototype was flown on the Space Shuttle in 1998.  We moved to England in March, 2007 to complete the development of a superfluid helium cooled superconducting magnet near Oxford.  We then moved near Geneva, Switzerland in August, 2008 to complete the rest of the experiment at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN).  We hope to finish the assembly and initial testing this fall at CERN and then move it to the European Space Agency's Test Center (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Holland for further testing.  It will then be installed in the Space Shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  If everything goes as planned (and it rarely does) it will be launched to the International Space Station on the last flight of the Shuttle in September, 2010.
While this has been an interesting experience for all of us, it has confirmed something I already knew:  The United States is by far the best country on this planet and we are all very, very, lucky to have been born there.  We are even luckier to have the family we have.  I sure wish I could be there for the reunion!

1) Conrad and Margaret Pickert > 2) Don and Valeria Pickert >
3) Deb (Pickert)
and Dave Meyers > children: 4) Mike, 4) Don > 5) Sydney, 5) Sebastian, and 4) Crisine
Dave and I have always been adventuress. We enjoy the outdoors and we have seen a good portion of the US. Because of this our kids had to go with us (not always willingly).  When we were in Washington State we discovered the Mountains and they have a few. We were young (stupid??) and we had some of the best times there.  As we look back we probably shouldn’t have done some of it with the kids but we survived. Here are a few…
We liked to go camping in the summer. It was tent camping and it was great. We hiked everywhere. We would never camp where there was water and facilities, we would camp near a stream, away from everyone. After hiking all day we decided to get cleaned up by jumping into the steam at a deep part.  This is where we found out that the streams came off the glacier and were somewhere between 40 and 50 degrees.  Oh my God!! It was so cold. You have never seen a group of people scramble out of water so fast.
We also liked to go in the winter and we could play in the snow, cross country ski, and go sledding. We decided to go sledding and we got a tube to do it. If you have ever gone sledding with a tube you know they are fast. Well the mountains are steep but it is not like you have a nice clear spot to slide down. So we decided to use the logging roads. They have a lot of them and we found one we liked. Logging roads are cut into the side of mountains. We parked just ahead of a T and Dave decided he would go first to show us how it was done. He went up the logging road that went up the mountain off the T.  We stayed at the bottom. He got on and “Oh my God!!” we were dying. He shot down that hill so fast and with no control. If you remember the sled scene in the movie “Christmas Vacation”, it was just like that.  He went flying off the road into the trees (good thing it was only about a 20 foot drop). We were laughing so hard and trying to find out if he was ok at the same time. It was so funny!
We still like to explore…..