The Diederich Journal

September 2003

Autumn draws near and that means an end to the hot and humid weather for most of you. But for Noriko and I here in San Francisco, it means warmer weather. Yes, the secret it out. Summers in San Francisco are usually on the chilly side (though this year has been warmer than most). Our "summer-like" weather arrives in September and October.

A lot has happened since the last installment of the Diederich Journal back in May. I have been exceedingly lazy in updating this site -- and for that I apologize.

Most recently, Noriko and I visited Maui for 6 days. It was a rare vacation since we are reluctant to leave our dog Ichi at the kennel, but my sister Melanie and her husband, Danny, agreed to dogsit for us. They live in North Carolina and graciously agreed to spend their summer vacation here. More on that visit, along with our Maui trip soon.

But now, without further ado, I turn the stage over to my "Cuz" Jean Diederich Stouffer, who reports on the famous Diederich reunion of August 2003. (Just a reminder, I am Tom the "3rd," and when she refers to "Tom Diederich," that's my pop, Tom "Jr.")

The Diederich Family Picnic

August 10, 2003
Grand Lake St. Mary's State Park
St. Mary's, Ohio

Dad and "cuz" JeanSetting off for a reunion with a long-lost cousin is a bit daunting. After all, it's been 51 years. (Can that be true? Fifty-one years?)

Unfortunately, despite all attempts to deny it, it's been that long. The last time I saw my cousin Tom Diederich, he was a good-looking young man in a military uniform. I remem-ber being very impressed. I was only 11 years old, and just a bit on the plump side. OK, I was fat. (That's Tom and I to the right).

My father (Richard) and Tom's father (Tom) were brothers. Their father, "P.J" or "Pop," was my grandfather, and he'd spent his last years with us. But he had died, and "Tommy" was there for the funeral. I don't remember much about the funeral, but I do recall an image of my cousin standing on our front porch.

And time being what it is, and life being what happens to us when we aren't looking, that was the last our families saw of each other for a good, long time &endash; until the summer of August 2003, that is. Our "reunion" came about after my cousin's son (Tom III) found my brother John on a Diederich web site, and e-mailed him. And that started the ball rolling.

We three Diederich kids (myself, my brother John and my sister Ann) were delighted to find Tom. Over the years, we'd wondered what had happened to him. What had become of him? Had he moved out of state? Married? Had children?

Now at last we would find out. Tom had gone on to school and gotten a degree in social work. He'd also married, and altogether he and his wife Shirley had raised three children. Much of his career was spent working with veterans in Dayton, Ohio. Those were the bare bones.

But as the e-mails went back and forth, I decided that I wanted to meet "Cuz Tom," even though I'm the youngest of us three, and probably have the fewest memories of my early years. So, my brother John put it all together, and chose a somewhat central spot in Ohio for all of us to meet, at Grand Lake St. Mary's State Park.

I'm married, and my husband's family lives in rural northwestern Ohio. We travel there each year (we live in New Mexico, in a small town just south of Albuquerque), and John thought he might be in Ohio at that time visiting his grown son and daughter, who live near Columbus. (John and his wife Diana live in North Carolina.) My sister Ann, who lives in southern Florida, was eager to come, but wasn't sure she'd be able to take time off from her job. (It turns out she couldn't get vacation time, but we kept her posted.) Tom said he thought he and Shirley would be able to drive up from Dayton.

And so it went, and on the second Sunday of August, John and Diana and my husband Dan and I and our daughter Laura waited eagerly at a shelter house at the park. Tom and Shirley were due to arrive any minute. We had food spread out on picnic tables, cold drinks in the cooler, and games ready for John's grandchildren.

John's children and families finally arrived, and then, after a few calls back and forth (thank heavens for cell phones), Tom and Shirley arrived, with their daughter Jill and son-in-law Al.

We had so much to catch up on, and not enough time to do it in. Time raced by as we tried to squeeze the events of 51 years of our lives into two or three hours. I felt as if I'd known Tom for a long time. He's comfortable to be with. John felt much the same, al-though he got dragged away with grandpa business. I think I bent the poor man's ear for the entire time they were there. We talked about family, and how little we knew or remem-bered, and how impossible it was to now find out anything else.

It turns out there had been some sort of conflict even before my grandfather had died, and the families had drifted apart years earlier. We talked about how strange that was, and wondered why our parents would have let that happen. But we know that's a question that can't be answered now.

Anyhow, it seemed all too soon that our long-lost cuz and his family had to head back to Dayton. We watched them go, and I felt at once a sense of satisfaction, but also a let-down of sorts that the time we'd so looked forward to had gone by so quickly.

But hey! There's always next year.

-- Jean Diederich Stouffer

This is Tom III again. Unfortunately, the web editing tool I am using on my ancient Mac is more than six years old and I can't for the life of me get captions into the mix without creating a clumsy table like the one below. So here are some names to go with the faces above.

(Foreground) Laura, Jean, my dad, Tom "Jr." and (back to camera) Dan, with my mom, Shirley, and Diana in the background.

(Left to right) Jean, her husband, Dan, and John's wife, Diana.

Jennifer, left, and my baby sister, Jill.

Here's John's son, John Jr., with Diana.