Tag Archives: family

“Our family keeps growing, and with
each passing year, there is a garden.”

The 100-Year Garden

By Amy Gesenhues

My grandmother turned 101 years old on April 3. She has survived being born in 1917. World War II. Joe McCarthy. The Korean War. Vietnam. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of President Kennedy. She is a devout Catholic who survived a divorce in a deeply rooted Catholic community. She survived being a single, working mother of six kids during the 1970s. She also survived the death of her first son, and probably a million tiny heartbreaks I know nothing about.

Through all of these tragedies and losses and survivals, there has been a garden.

When my grandmother was young, her family’s main crop was strawberries. She talks about what it was like to grow the heart-shaped fruit in her 1997 autobiography, From My Window: “We planted them in the Spring and hoed and plowed them all that summer. Then the next Spring we picked them. They were a hard crop to grow and depend on, but they were what we planted, picked and sold to make most of the money we needed for the rest of the year.”

They also planted potatoes and cabbage and corn and tomatoes and beans. Pumpkins, cantaloupes, watermelons, and cucumbers.

“Our family keeps growing, and with each passing year, there is a garden.”

“Our family keeps growing, and with
each passing year, there is a garden.”

Grandma said the cucumbers were a good crop for them. “The growing season was so short and they could stand the dry summers of the Ohio Valley,” she wrote. “It only took them six weeks to grow, and we would pick them every other day for over a month.”

She said picking the cucumbers was a back-breaking job, and she is the toughest woman I know.

The garden I first remember is the one my grandmother and grandfather started at their house in the two, maybe three acres of land between their home and the creek at the bottom of Jenny Lane in Floyds Knobs. I don’t know what year the first garden was put there, but it continued to be planted well past their divorce and after the death of their son. He was only 26 when he drowned at Buffalo Trace Lake. His name was Norman. He was my dad.

Last year, on the 40th anniversary of his death, a cousin shared the following memory of him on my Facebook page: “I don’t have any really clear memories of your dad. There is one, though, when the family was planting the big garden in your Grandma’s yard. Everyone was kneeled down, carefully planting seeds at just the right distance apart. Except your dad. He had a handful of seeds – peas, I think – and he was hunched over, walking briskly, letting them roll out of his hand like hewas eating peanuts. Someone was grousing athim about not doing it right and then following his row, re-placing the seeds carefully, movingeach one an inch or so.”

My cousin said he remembers being off to the side, playing in the dirt when my dad came by with a grin and asked him, “My way is better, don’t you think?” I am grateful to have this memory. My dad sowing seeds in the garden. Doing things his way.

Grandma’s garden has since relocated to the other side of the property from where it once was. Instead of being in front of her house – which is now my uncle’s home – it is across the street, in front of the house where another one of my cousins lives. She has two toddlers.

Our family keeps growing, and with each passing year, there is a garden. In 2001, one of my cousins started a garden log to archive every crop our family plants, harvests and cans. It is a small spiral notebook with a green cover that up until last year, was kept on top of our grandmother’s refrigerator.

An entry dated July 1, 2004, reads: Canned 56 quarts of green beans. Vicki and Lucy picked one row for this canning.

The time it took to pick the beans is in parentheses, (2½ hours). The entry includes a bulleted list of everyone who helped stem and can the green beans: Grandma, Janice F., Doug, Jan, Joe. Beside Doug’s name, in parentheses, is a note that he only received partial credit because he arrived “very” late. Jan was noted as a late arrival too. Joe’s name included the following citation: Cut very little with lots of complaining. All of these details listed in parentheses beside their names.

An entry from August 13, 2013, says the corn didn’t come in that year. Instead, two bushels were bought from Ralph Fenwick. Parentheses ($35). After grandma deemed it fresh enough, Emily, Junnie, Vicki, JJ and Jan shucked and cleaned it, while Molly, Eileen and P3 (short for Paul the third) played in the basement. JJ wanted it noted that she pulled out a worm from an already boiled year of corn, and that she was there from the beginning. Parentheses (9:30am).

This small notebook is so much more than the food my family has harvested for the last almost 20 years. It’s a record of what we talk about when we’re sitting around our grandmother’s table, chucking corn, canning beans, eating. It’s a handwritten confessional, showing all the ways we care for and nurture each other. I think of these small moments, the quiet details within the parentheses, as clues to the ways we’ve repaired each of our family’s tiny heartbreaks – from my dad’s death to all sufferings that were left unsaid.

My grandmother had six children. Those six children had 16 children, and I am one of them.

I have two kids of my own now, and we all still eat food from her garden. When my son was three, still in a car seat riding home from Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house, he said her cream corn – made with the ears of corn cleaned and chucked from the garden – was magic. I can think of no better word to define it.


50 Faces of Harvest Homecoming

There’s so much to love about the New Albany festival


In honor of Harvest Homecoming’s 50th anniversary, the Extol Team hit the streets and asked 50 community members what they think makes the New Albany festival so special and why it continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors year after year.

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-42-55-pm“The food is awesome – the doughnuts of course are wonderful. And then it’s also great for my store [Colokial Boutique] too because it brings so many people downtown and shows them a side of New Albany that they maybe haven’t seen before.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-43-00-pm“The most interesting thing about Harvest Homecoming is that it attracts people from all over the county. Almost everybody you know will be there at some point, and when the weather’s nice especially, it’s like a great big old-fashioned town reunion.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-43-10-pm“It reminds me so much of fall, and in Vegas, where I moved from, there’s not really ‘fall’ – it’s just another time of the year really. But really I just love community – I love people a lot – and the community and hospitality around here is awesome, so it’s really exciting that Harvest Homecoming represents that – that we’re able to come together as this little town and be friends!”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-43-33-pm“I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming for years, at least 20. I love all the food! I’m a food man.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-43-17-pm“I’ve been going for at least 10 years and I always enjoy the doughnuts.” “I am a big fan of Halloween and Harvest Homecoming is the kick off for me.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-43-41-pm“We try to schedule it through work so we can all come down here together – we’re like a little posse and we all just walk down and enjoy the atmosphere! And then we see people who we know, of course, and then we’re back in the evenings. Also, I think with New Albany, as it’s growing, Harvest Homecoming is just one of those things that brings people together – it really is a true homecoming.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-02-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for 15 years now and I go for the chicken and dumplings, it’s the first thing I get when they first open up.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-11-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for at least 40 years. I really enjoy the baking contest. I won 1st place five times, and last year, two of my granddaughters won 1st and 2nd place. It’s very exciting!”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-23-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for about eight years and the only reasons I go is for the Boy Scout grilled corn, the Bella Roma pasta and fried Snickers.”


Floyd Knobs

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-29-pm“I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming for as long as I can remember, at least 45 years. I love seeing all the people that keep coming back every year.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-37-pm“I’ve been to Harvest Homecoming one year. I loved meeting people and the food – it’s so good!”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-44-47-pm“I have never been to Harvest Homecoming but I have heard about it. I have lots of friends going.”




screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-45-47-pm“I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming for at least 10 years. I love the food and all the live entertainment. It’s really fun.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-45-52-pm“This is my first time coming to Harvest Homecoming. I just moved here from Bloomington because I heard it was so good! I can’t wait to try the chicken and dumplings, everyone says they are the best!”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-45-57-pm“I have been volunteering for 12 years with the festival and became a member six years ago. Now that we are a 501c3, we can give away more money and more scholarships, be able to help more students achieve their dreams of going to college, raise more money for the Crusade for Children – helping our community, that’s what we’re all about.”


Harvest Homecoming President-Elect 2018-2019

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-01-pm“I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming most of my life, at least 20 years. I love the food. I get the gyros every year!”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-06-pm“This will be my first year coming to Harvest Homecoming and I’m really looking forward to the parade!”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-21-pm“Been going since the 80’s and I have always enjoyed the concerts down by the river.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-16-pm“I love everything about it. I love to see all the neat crafts and the different things that people are selling. Obviously food is number one – always love to get the dumplings. But it really speaks volumes to our city. It shows that we all come together and everyone enjoys it. My kids – they’re 9, 6 and 3 – my younger kids love the rides, and as they get older, they start to enjoy the food as well as the rides and facepainting. Meanwhile, me as an adult, I love to see old friends I haven’t seen in years.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-24-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming on and off for 25 years and I always love the concerts they have.” “I love the music and I also get to see people I haven’t seen in years.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-29-pm“This will be my second year and I think it’s a great thing for the community.”There is always a very diverse crowd and it brings a lot of foot traffic to the area.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-34-pm“This will be my second time returning to Harvest Homecoming. I loved the kettle corn and the corn on the cob.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-40-pm“I’ve been going on and off since 2010 and I most look forward to the craft booths.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-58-pm“I love the parade – all the different floats. It’s so fun to see the different ways people decorate their floats, and it’s always exciting to see the different themes that people come up with. I think it really shows off the creativity of the community.”


Flodys Knobs

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-46-55-pm“I’ve been attending for around 25 years and I always look forward to the rolled oysters.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-11-pm“I’ve gone to Harvest on and off with my dad since I was two years old, and we would always get the pumpkin rolls.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-19-pm“Harvest to me is the three Fs: family, fun and friends. I’ll tell you what, the friends are the (festival) vice presidents here who take care of things and do a very, very fine job.”


Harvest Homecoming President 2016-2017

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-23-pm“I have been going to Harvest Homecoming for just a few years and I always look forward to the animal booths.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-35-pm“It brings so much money into downtown New Albany, which does so much for small local businesses. And then so many people who haven’t been around here can see what’s coming up over here – restaurants, places they may want to come back and visit – or they might see somewhere for sale and want to start a new business over here.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-40-pm“Harvest means community to me, it means fellowship with local residents and vendors and it means ringing in the fall season. I started helping my grandfather sell pins when I was only four years old. … Right now, we have between 200 and 300 volunteers, and with the festival expanding and adding events, we’d really like to increase that number. … We are an organization that is all about being inclusive. We want people from (all walks of life, ages and beliefs). That’s what’s going to make Harvest Homecoming stronger going into the next several years and will allow the festival to be around for another 50 years”


Vice President of Volunteerism

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-47-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for 35 years. I just love the community environment and the tradition that surrounds it. The atmosphere is just great.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-59-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming on and off for 10 years. I love the food. The apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream are the best. ”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-47-54-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for 20 years. I love the people.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-06-pm“Harvest Homecoming means family to me. Not just my own flesh and blood but my HH pals. We have a wonderful time together. We work really hard together, but it’s a great way to spend any extra time that anybody has.”


Harvest Homecoming Vice President & Office Manager

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-22-pm“Oh I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming for 20 years or so. I really like helping out my church and decorating their booth. I’m excited about the theme this year!”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-13-pm“I’ve been coming to Harvest Homecoming for at least 10 years. I love meeting new people and talking to them. When you have a booth, you meet a lot of new people that are really friendly.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-17-pm“I’ve been to Harvest Homecoming three times. I love bringing my kids. We love the corn and the funnel cake! After the food, we usually go to the fair to ride the rides.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-29-pm“Harvest Homecoming is where we [Sweet Stuff Bakery] first started selling the tubs of cake, and it’s since become our biggest advertising event. The tubs just started gaining popularity and we were taking more and more down there. In fact, so many times, I’ll have brides come in from way up north and I’ll ask them how they know about us, and they’ll say, ‘Harvest. We had your cake at Harvest.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-37-pm“It definitely draws a lot of people to downtown New Albany and brings people from across the river and across Southern Indiana. And it’s set up where all these different business are, and all these businesses offer different things so it puts that in the back of people’s minds as they’re walking around that they might want to come back and check out more of the city.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-42-pm“I love the food and the general festive atmosphere. It’s so cool that we have something like that that is so fun but also brings the community together. It says so much about our community, too; it says that we want to get involved and participate and do things together and have fun!”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-50-pm“It wouldn’t be fall without Harvest Homecoming. … As the executive director of the scholarship pageants, I have the absolute blessing of working with young women every single year and helping them make their way to achieve their dreams on the Miss Indiana stage. A little-known fact, Harvest Homecoming is a local preliminary to the Miss America organization, which allows young women to represent our festival on a national stage.”


Executive Director of Miss Harvest Homecoming Scholarship Pageants

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-56-pm“New Albany is such a great home to so many people, and Harvest Homecoming really brings out the joy that this town has.”


Harvest Homecoming Vice President of the parade and pumpkin decorating and baking contests

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-48-59-pm“I’ve been to Harvest Homecoming one time and I plan on going this year. I really loved all the different people that show up. For such a small community, you would never have guessed there would be so many different booths.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-03-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for many years. I really love seeing all the people and how the community comes together.”



screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-08-pm“It means too much really to put into words. You have the family part of it, you have the community part of it, you have the tradition, and when people come to Harvest once they always want to come back. It’s something that stays with you no matter where you go. People travel from faraway places to come back every year.”


Harvest Homecoming Vice President of various children events

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-13-pm“What I get out of it is the giving back. When we talk about family and community, one of the things that is an important part about in a family and community is what you give. About 30 percent of our booths are nonprofits and a lot of them make their entire budget for the year during Harvest Homecoming and that money then, in turn, gets spent in our community for people who need it.”


Harvest Homecoming Vice President of booths

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-20-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for at least 10 years and I always look forward to the chicken and dumplings!”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-29-pm“I’ve been going to Harvest Homecoming for at least 10 years. I love decorating our booth.”


New Albany

screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-4-49-37-pm“Oh I’ve been going since I was a wee one and my most favorite memory was when I was able to represent Goat Milk Stuff in a vendor booth.”


New Albany



A LIFE IN PROGRESS | A Fair and Balanced View of My Facebook

By Ray Lucas

I have a co-worker who recently commented on a series of Facebook photos I have posted during the past year. “My wife and I were just talking about how your family takes all of these family trips to cool places.” He went on, “You guys are always doing something fun – I look forward to seeing what type of adventures you are in to.”

It is true that as a family, we have made a conscious decision to focus more of our time and money on life rayexperiences. As a result, we frequently spend weekends camping, vacationing in places we have always wanted to visit and exploring unique local destinations. It is also true that I have always used Facebook as more of a shared photo album for family and friends than to share funny memes or political ideologies. Grandparents, family and friends from different states as well as close to home often comment about how they enjoy keeping up with us through our Facebook posts.

However, his comments started me to thinking that perhaps posting photos of smiling children, happy family times and fun weekend ray-2getaways is painting an unrealistic picture of what the Lucas family is really like. Let’s face it, very few people on social media are prone to post the nitty gritty moments of life. We want to share the moments when our children are smiling and laughing, not the ones where they are arguing about having to take a photo in the first place. It’s human nature to share the best of times.

I’ve begun to wonder what Facebook would look like if in addition to the good times, families like mine started posting very candid and real photos of the mundane or downright hard moments of life. Instead of editing our photos for the best smile, maybe we should occasionally slip one in of the kids whining that they don’t want their photo taken in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Disney. In the interest of presenting a more fair and balanced portrait of my life on Facebook, my New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to post more moments like these:

I resolve to post a photo of me weed eating in a T-shirt full of holes and my  wife cleaning the bathroom toilet on a beautiful Saturday morning in addition to the one of us paddling our kayaks on a placid Deam’s Lake later that day.

I resolve to post a photo of our five- and nine-year-olds whining in stere about “How much longer do we have to walk?” captured just ten minutes after they cheesed with my wife and I for the trail selfie we took in Brown County State Park.

I resolve to post a photo of my teenage son and daughter rolling their eyes  about having to wear matching sweaters for our annual family photos right  before I upload our family posing in a beautiful shot taken at the Falls of  the Ohio.

I resolve to show the image of me getting frustrated with my wife who is  trying unsuccessfully to help me back the camper into a tight camping  spot between two trees, as well as the one of us sitting around the fire roasting s’mores with the kids later that weekend.

I resolve to post a photo of the McDonald’s double cheeseburger I ate in  the car on the way to a school open house a few days after I post an image of the two beautiful rib eye steaks and fresh corn on the cob I am grilling on the front porch.

I resolve to post a photo of me returning work emails on my iPhone while my  preschool son comes to the sidelines to ask how much longer soccer practice  will be on a blazing hot afternoon a week before I proudly upload the video of him scoring the cutest soccer goal in the history of the YMCA league.

I resolve to post a live feed of me threatening my teenage son that if his grades drop due to all of the time he is  spending in the Actor’s Theatre production of Macbeth, he will not be trying out for the spring musical at Providence.  I’ll upload this hours before the live feed of his feature solo singing “It Takes Two” in the musical Hairspray  on the New Albany Riverfront stage.

I resolve to post of photo of me in the bedroom watching Sunday night football while my wife is in the living  room watching the series Outlander a few days after the romantic photo of us dressed up and having dinner  with friends outdoors at Brooklyn and the Butcher.

I resolve to ask someone from church to click a shot of me bribing my children with Hot Wheels and candy  if they smile for our family photo after Christmas mass with all of them wearing their Christmas best outfits.  I’ll post this moment before the one I post of our smiling Christmas electronic postcard.

And finally, I resolve to post the evidence of mom and dad sleeping/recovering on the couch on New Year’s  Day while the kids serve themselves cookies and Cheetos for lunch as well as the photo from the night  before of me kissing my beautiful wife at midnight at a New Year’s Eve party with extended family.

The next time you idealize my or another family’s life based on the posts you see on your scrolling social media feed, remember that the grass is always greener on Facebook. And if it isn’t, I probably used Photoshop to make it look like my kids were sitting in a field of the greenest grass in all of Ireland. Can I get a like?