Burlington Reunion Draws from Near, Far

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

BURLINGTON — Bruce Pleasant, of Carson, Calif., looked out over the assembly of former friends and neighbors and summed up the event.

“I’ve seen people here today I haven’t seen in years. There’s Leon Howard, we went to school with together and Elizabeth Davis, from Detroit. And Berniece Martin, I haven’t seen her since she left. There are quite a few people here I haven’t seen since I left in 1956. This brings back quite a few memories.”

Memories. That was the point of a weekend get-together at Burlington Commons. The fifth annual Burlington Family Reunion brought folks from as far away as Las Vegas, Nev., and Sacramento, Calif., all of them still with strong ties to the small community they grew up in years ago.

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They came back to share those memories and share a bond with each other that has lasted in spite of the miles and in spite of the years.

The town they grew up in has clearly never left them, no matter where life has taken them.

Beverly Scott, of Burlington, who helped organize the event, said she was pleased with the turnout.

“We had 117 people who signed in last night (for the Friday night fish fry) and we’ve had 75 people who signed in today and a lot more who haven’t signed in. People are just getting together. It’s like one big happy family.”

One of those who attended was Sheila Gilmore of Auburn Hill, Mich. She graduated from South Point High School in 1966. She has lived in Michigan 39 years but she comes home every now and then to see her parents who still live in Burlington and this year, she came for the reunion.

“I’ve been to three of them (reunions),” she said. “I just like seeing people. I hope they keep this going, this is really nice. I’ve seen a lot of my friends I graduated with, some that still live here. This is nice.”

Victor Edwards of Las Vegas, Nev., got a chance to reconnect with former neighbors and to visit with an aunt, Helen Howard, who is in a local nursing home. Visiting. That’s what Edwards said he most enjoyed about the reunion.

“I like seeing people I haven’t see in 30 or 40 years,” he said. Once of the people he got to visit with was Bruce Pleasant, who joking noted that “Nothing has changed except that we both got rounder.”

Pleasant said people he has met who did not grow up in Burlington are often surprised at the way he described his home community.

“They often can’t believe how much fun we had. Burlington is a unique community,” Pleasant said. “Everyone was family whether you were related to them or not. I went to Beverly Scott’s parents’ house this week (Allen and Martha Lease) and thanked them for what they did for me when I was growing up and we lived next door.

“There were eight of us and they treated us like we were their own kids. They looked out for us when my parents weren’t around and made sure we stayed on the straight and narrow and I thank them for it. That’s what kind of a place Burlington was. People looked out for one another.”

It was just that kind of atmosphere that enticed Adrianne Johnson to settle in Burlington six months ago. She moved to Ohio from Dallas, Texas.

“I love it here,” she said. “The people are very friendly.”

Unlike many who came, this was her first experience at a Burlington Family Reunion.

“It seems like the goal is for everyone to know who everyone else is and be a family,” she said. “I’m looking forward to next year.”