Toomer Family BLOG

Our goal is to celebrate ALL Toomer family members today and yesterday. This blog will include history, genealogy, and reunion news. Additionally we will share our talent in poetry and prose, along with spotlight news on family members.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Momma and Poppa_s Kids Together

Have you ever thought about what it was like at Momma and Poppas dinner table? To use a phrase popularized by Sophia Patillo: Picture it, Philadelphia 1919. Henry and Bertha Toomer followed the path of many African Americans leaving the south, looking for work and opportunity in the north. In addition to their new baby, Albert, they had Clarence age 3, Robert age 5, Lucy age 9, and James age 11. Eventually, in the late 1920’s, they made their way across the Delaware River, to Berlin, NJ. Henry and Bertha had both buried their mothers, Lucy and Florida in Philly. Now they sought a place with wide open spaces, a place where the children could run free. This was needed, as they now had three more, baby Beese, Ida and Susie. The families, including the Parsons (Lewis and Ida) build homes on Elm Avenue (now Toomer Avenue). The space in Berlin must have been wider than expected, as Momma and Poppa continued to increase the population in south Jersey. The stock market crashed, but Toomer stock was way up! By 1933, five year old Nealie was the big brother to baby Stanley, Gertie and Donald.

Henry and Bertha had 16 children in all, so they must have had a pretty big and exciting table. As a kid there was always a special excitement in the air when they were together. When I think about planning committee meetings, I think about Momma and Poppa_s table. All of the kids were there in the past and we try to recreate this in the planning committee. When I look out the window and see Bernice, Patsy and Emily pull up, I say, here comes Sister, Albert and Charlie. Then Marianne and Cherylie Burly walk in and I say, yeah we have a double Susie (What could be better than a double Aunt Susie? Maybe add in a couple of her grandchildren.) Gwenie and Floyd, brings in Donald and Ida. (Just one note: We all know that Uncle Albert and Uncle Donald would show up together in real life. Those two use to hang. Before Nealie passed the three of them were like triples. I loved to see them coming.) I say all of this to say, we love to have all of Momma and Poppa_s kids at the meeting. At the least, we should have one representative from each large family branch. Additionally we are looking for more 20 somethings and 30 somethings to get in on the fun. (That does not mean that the 40 and 50 somethings are off the hook.) Bernice said that she is tired. The next meeting is April 15th.


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