Original Facebook post July 7 at 4:14 AM
Do you ever have a crazy idea that you just can't resist? Well, that happened one night to me while I was planning the 8000 mile road trip I call "Life Is A Highway". I thought, "What if I routed it through the heart of America? I wonder if I could reconnect with any of my Dad's family in Missouri?"
Those persistent questions lead me on a late night internet search for Maness names that might be related. And that search led me to reconnect with my wonderful cousin, Denise Gau, who I had only met once 50 years ago when I was hitchhiking around America. A couple of emails later between her, her brother, Eric Brinley and myself, and I received an invitation to come visit Denise and her amazing husband, Bill in Missouri.
But wait, there's more.
The more I kept thinking about the abundance of people back there that shared my last name, the more I wanted to meet some of them. That nudged me to plan what I called the MANESS (Long Lost Cousin) Family Reunion. I called the wonderfully accommodating, Mindy Davis at Pogolinos in De Soto and she set us up with the amazing servers, Erin and Ayrehl. Then I lucked out to find that one of the town historians, Francine Bailey-Henderson was also my distant cousin! And she and her terrific husband, BT, not only put a ton of Maness family research together on poster boards, they acted as co-hosts to the event and even put me up for the night in their guest room.
I had no idea who or if anyone would come, so I was absolutely delighted when the twelve of us gathered to share personal stories, family histories and fond memories of growing up in De Soto. The conversation was easy and animated. And thanks to cousin, Cindy Greer, we saw photos of family we never knew existed.
It was so much fun that I smiled for days afterwards. And I'd like to thank each and everyone of my long lost cousins for driving in from near and far to turn my crazy idea into a memorable occasion.
Update July 3, 2018: For more posts, photos and links about De Soto, MO, see:
11. MANESS (Long Lost Cousin) Family Reunion Invite.
35. Honor Thy Father.
36. Amazing Places: De Soto, MO.
37: Amazing Places: Pine Mountain Country Coffee House.
38: MANESS (Long Lost Cousin) Family Reunion Photos.
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