Five generation celebration a ‘very American’ affair 7/2/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Five generation celebration a ‘very American’ affair

By John Howell Sr.

My plans are to be driving on Thursday, so I don’t know how much of an actual Fourth of July celebration I’ll encounter en route to New Orleans or after I arrive. But I feel like I’ve already celebrated.

On page 3A, you’ll find a photo of the Rose family celebrating family matriarch Ruby Rose’s 100th birthday. I was there Saturday with a camera and immediately found myself surrounded by new and old friends, some of whom had traveled considerable distances to attend.

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As I talked with sons and grandsons, I learned a little about the family’s history and it occurred to me that what I was witnessing was not just the quintessential American celebration but also that of Mississippi and Panola County as well.

Allen Rose told me that his granddad had once been a Mississippi sharecropper who left these parts for more lucrative factory employment in Illinois. When he decided to return to his native state, his sons, first one and then another, began to follow him with their families. Allen had moved here as a 14-year-old in 1984, he said.

In the years since the family’s return migration began, they’ve peopled this county, now unto the fifth generation, so that most of us know at least one of them. Nor was it like Allen found himself suddenly among strangers when he got here at age 14.

In addition to members of who had already moved to Panola County, there were cousins already here, including the Perkins family — James and Jerry Perkins were among those there Saturday to celebrate Mrs. Ruby’s 100th — and in Panola County, if you’re kin to the Perkins, your network is already well established.

So the family shared their happiness at Ruby Rose’s 100 years. The celebrated kinships and friendships and experienced the joie de vivre that large family gatherings generate.

It was a very American celebration.