This is the family of Lyman Duane Hamblin and Fanny Adeline Noble. My grandmother Iris is standing just behind the baby on the right of Fanny.
This is an early reunion. The man with the black bushy hair on the top left with a dot above him is my grandfather Cliff Palmer. The woman with the baby on his right is my grandmother Iris. The baby is my mother. The top middle couple are Lyman and Fanny. This is about 1926.
THE REUNIONI can close my eyes and see the paradise that was Rock Creek in the high Uinta Mts. Of Utah. There was a bumpy dirt road for the last miles before arriving at my Uncle Willie's lodge. I didn’t mind the jostling we children got from the back of the truck at this point, because the tall pines and quaking aspen arched the road and the cool mountain air was fragrant with forest smells. I knew soon we would jump from the truck and begin looking for cousins and hugging aunts and uncles. This was always a happy time and place. This was vacation for our family, the Hamblin Family Reunion. We didn’t go to Disney Land, Yellowstone or to see the sights in Salt Lake, we camped and fished and Rock Creek was my favorite place. For many years of my childhood the Reunion was held in this glorious spot.
My Grandmother was the daughter of Fanny Adeline Noble and Lyman Duane Hamblin. This reunion was a gathering of their posterity. It was held every July the week after the 4th. It was always well attended by the 11 children of Fanny and Duane and the 56 first cousins who had a great fondness for each other. It didn’t matter that their lives had taken various turns with bumps and jags—they had history together. My mother said that when the 8 sisters were young mothers, all who could would often gather during the summer at one of their homes with their rag tag group of children and stay for days on end. It was told that they chatted and laughed far into the night after the kids were asleep and they finally had some peace.
The Hamblin children would break off into little groups for camping at the reunion. My Grandma Iris was always near her sisters Mollie and Erma who were close to her age growing up, so our families were better acquainted. The children of these aunts had more boys than girls. My mother’s sister Bobbie had a daughter Iris, who was 3 years younger and Aunt Mollies daughter Jessie had a daughter Tia who was 4 years younger and we stuck together. We wandered the woods collecting treasures and chatting nonsense as little girls do.
I am going to confess some embarrassments that I have never forgotten. I told the little girls a naughty joke. This was it: A little girl needed to go to the bathroom so she went to her teacher to get permission. The teacher said, “first recite the ABC’s and then you can go.” ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOQRSTUVWXYZ , “Where is the P?” asked the teacher. “Running down my legs.” Said the little girl. After returning to camp one of my little cousins tried to tell the joke to the adults but the only thing that came out with clarity was the P running down the legs. I will never forget the humiliation of getting caught doing something questionable with these people that meant so much to me. I actually don’t remember their reaction. I think it was brushed off but I never really got over my feelings of being tainted in their eyes.
Rock Creek funneled into an area that created a large pool called “The Stillwaters.” We took our swimsuits to swim in it. This had to be the coldest water on earth and I can’t believe I actually got in. The water would paralyze every inch of your skin and after a few minutes you actually started to feel warm, but you couldn’t breath very well. Once the top of my swimming suit fell off and I didn’t even feel it. I jumped out of the water exposing myself to all the boys there. Maybe it helped that I was as flat chested as they were.
Each year one of the Hamblin children would be responsible for hosting the reunion. They would organize the activities and choose the location. It wasn’t always at Rock Creek but this was the preferred site for many years. We all arrived on Thursday afternoon and would leave on Sunday evening. The days were filled with activities for the children, family meetings, potluck dinners, auctions, talent shows and church. There is a lovely spirit when you meet with your cousins sitting on a rock in the woods praying and talking about Jesus. The sacrament was served and a testimony meeting was always part of the service. I believe God meant the witness of your blood kin to be more potent. At least it felt like that to me. There were a good many of the attendees who were not active in church at the time but our gospel heritage tied us together and active or not a powerful thread pulled us into the spirit of belonging to a family that believed that we are bound together forever. I think this belief activated many members of the Hamblin family over the years, including my mother. It is the amazing power of the hearts of the children turning to the fathers and the fathers turning to the children. The first convert in this family was Jacob Hamblin, who knew the prophet Joseph Smith. His spirit was always there in our gatherings as we told his stories.
My favorite part of the event was in the evenings, sitting around a large bon fire, singing the Hamblin songs. The families were huddled together in little groups with blankets and coats on those crisp mountain evenings. We ate hot dogs and roasted marshmallows then settled into the music. I could see the light of the fire reflecting joy in the faces of these good people as they sang the songs handed down over the years from Fanny and Lyman. Music was always important to this family. A history written by their daughter Lois told the following: “Each morning before going in to breakfast we gathered around the cheerful fireplace and sang a hymn. Then we would kneel in family prayer...Sometimes if the hymn we sang inspired us we would sing another one.” (Hamblin Red Book p. 72)
My mother had a strong soprano voice that could be heard a mile away if she was looking for you or sweet enough to melt your heart when she was singing. I loved the sound of her voice echoing in the trees on a still night when camping. She would bring her guitar to the campfire and sing an old Civil war song called “Two Little Boys,” and we would cry. It always made me cry. I know every word to this day. I can hear the harmony of “Love at Home,” as the group sang with the conviction of its importance. I can hear my grandmother’s deep alto voice singing “Whispering Hope,” and I was enchanted by the words.
Soft as the voice of an angel
Beathing a lesson unheard
Hope with its gentle persuasion
Whispers a comforting word
Wait ‘til the darkness is over
Wait ‘til the tempest is done
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow
After the shower is done.
Whispering hope, oh, how welcome thy voice
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice
‘En in the dusk of the twilight
Dim be the regions afar
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star
Then when the night is upon us
Why should the heart sink away
When the dark midnight is over
Watch for the breaking of day.
They sang old cowboy songs like “Baggage Couch Ahead,” and “My Juanita”—songs I had never heard anywhere before but were poignant and sad. I belonged to these good people, simple and humble but bonded together with love. It made me realize that my family was bigger than the craziness and dysfunction in my home. This reunion would forever shape who I am and who I want to be.
As long as my mother was alive I continued to attend. It was always so important to her. As the group increased and the old cousins died off the reunion broke into smaller family groups but I am glad my children had a taste of these experiences.
Here are the words to "Two Little Boys" in case you want to have a nice cry...but it's not quite the same without my mother singing it in the forest.
TWO LITTLE BOYS
Two little boys had two little toys
Each had a wooden horse
Gaily they played each summer’s day
Warriors both were they
When one little chap he had a mishap
Broke off his horse’s head
Wept for his toy then cried for joy
As his young comrade said
Did you think I would leave you crying
When there’s room on my horse for two
Climb up here Jack and don’t be crying
We can go just as fast with two
When we grow up we’ll be soldiers
And our horses will not be toys
Ad It may be that we will remember
When we were two little boys.
Long years had passed and the war came at last
Bravely they marched away
Cannons roared loud, mid the mad crowd
Wounded and dying Jack lay
When loud came a cry and a horse rushed by
Out of the ranks so blue
Galloped away to where Jack lay
And came a voice came loud and true
Did you think I would leave you dying
When there’s room on my horse for two
Climb up here Jack, we’ll be flying
We can go just as fast with two
Say Jack you're all a-tremble
Or it may be the battle’s noise
Or it may be that you can remember
When we were two little boys