The Early Days of the Livingston Watson Reunion

[Reprinted from Livingston/Watson News, Issue V, December 1990]

Lynn Skaife recalls overhearing a conversation when he was about 12 years old that may
give us a hint as to how the reunion got started. Lynn’s father, Elmer Skaife, and Dr.
Tom Livingston, “DOC,” who was visiting from New Mexico, were sitting out on the
porch at the Skaife farm. They were talking about how there should be a family picnic. . .

And sure enough a picnic was planned in 1923. Kathryn Rosemeyer remembers her
mother, Eva Livingston Bailey, preparing it around the visit of her uncle, Doc, and his
wife, Lottie. It was held in the park as you may be guessed. Kathryn recalls her mother
frying chickens and spreading tablecloths on the picnic tables and the ground. Invitation
was informally by word of mouth. Everyone had such a good time it was agreed to have
it again the next year. Vi Livingston recollects that she couldn’t attend the first picnic
because her one year old child had a bad case of whooping cough.

From a simple picnic, the reunion evolved into a two-day affair complete with costumes,
music, skits and dancing. A platform was built onto the bandstand; a piano was moved
onto the stage. A woman unrelated to the family, Ann Hocking Smith, produced
hometown plays and would come into town ahead of time to direct the program.
Claude Watson was also involved in arranging the program. All ages were encouraged
to participate. The children practiced their skits and routines at Grace Livingston’s
mother’s house. There seemed to be no lack of talent. Two girls from Platteville, Doris
Huntington and Jane Hill, were known for their ballet performances. Nell Livingston
exercised her Irish sense of humor. Johnny Watson and Russell Hill always sang. “Pins”
Livingston, the owner of the hotel, and Jack Watson paired up to form a comedy team
and would quip at each other on stage.

In addition to the entertainment, there was a baseball game at the high school between the
Livingstons and the Watsons.

They were usually lucky to have good weather. The food was outstanding. Everyone
looked forward to Vi Livingston’s delicious apple pies.

Presidents from the early years:
William C Livingston – 1st year; Jack Watson – 2nd year; Vi Livingston – 3rd year.

Story Contributors:
Greta Howdle, Nick and Kay Kramer, Vi Livingston, Kathryn Rosemeyer, Lynn Skaife.

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