Camptown community celebrates family, friends
Published 10:06 am Friday, June 3, 2016
Ask anyone in the Camptown community what made growing up there so great, and they’ll quickly tell you: family and friends.
Those were in joyful abundance this past weekend when residents near and far came together for a reunion they’ll remember for a long time.
Committee members who organized the event were Karen Ruffin, Della Rainey Stokes, Temeka Walloe, Reggie Walloe, Alex Lee and Julia Heggar. During the picnic, Ruffin credited Walloe with being the driving force for the gathering.
Any such gathering is bound to have people coming from another city or state to become reacquainted or even introduced. In this case, the Franklin Bowling Center served as the meet-and-greet site on Friday evening, Every few minutes guests would arrive and shouts and laughter could be heard as people were hugged and hands were shaken.
Thankfully, Saturday was clear and bright at the Camptown Park as everyone gathered for the afternoon picnic.
Children bounced around in an inflatable while young men played on the basketball court. Close by, adults sat under the shelter to talk in detail as they waited for the grill masters “L.C.” and Herbert Homane to cook the burgers and hot dogs. Beside them, volunteers laid out the trays loaded with other delicious foods of corn on the cob, chicken and hushpuppies.
As they waited for the feast, several people spoke of what growing up in Camptown has meant to them.
Tink Williams, for a start, said she’s been in the community all her life. On her T-shirt was a picture of her grandmother, Martha Taylor, who died back in February at age 92.
“My family,” Williams was the first to say of what stands out for her about Camptown. “Everyone knows each other.”
She wasn’t the only person to wear a shirt with people’s faces. Several other guests also featured loved ones, such as parents and siblings, remembered in spirit.
Tommie Holloway, who also grew up there, including an education at Camptown Elementary School, said the community has always been family-oriented. Basketball, softball and baseball games were a common sight as well.
“It was a nice, friendly and peaceful. Everybody got along. It was a great community. No trouble. People helped each other out. That’s what Camptown is all about,” said Lorraine Johnson Bundick.
Alex Lee, who came down from Richmond, sported a purple shirt with the words “Straight Out of Camptown” in bright gold lettering. In fact, many other people wore the same slogan on shirts in varying colors and sizes.
“Everyone knew each other extremely well,” Lee said. “Homes could be unlocked. Keys in the car. People were hard-working. They put together a little to make a lot. It was such a blessing.”
Larry Skinner II, accompanied by his wife Dana and son, Larry III, also traveled from Richmond.
“Friends and family” are also strong in his memory. “Everybody came together.”
That night, the fun continued with a dance in the Sportsman’s Association back in Franklin. The next day, many worshipped together in Piney Grove Baptist Church before saying goodbye … for awhile, at least.