Ancestors The Dunning Family
Let's Keep Alive the Past
As a Memorial for the Future
As we begin to meet again for another family get-together, you might be interested in this old picture. It shows Isabelle Dunning surrounded by her children as well as some of her brothers and sisters from the Martin family as well as other aunts, uncles, cousins, and such. This was Christmas, 1945. Francis had returned safely from combat in the South Pacific, Chuck from serving under Patton in Europe, Betty as a Rosie the Riveter in the aircraft factories in California, and Colleen from the finance office at Fitzsimmons Hospital. It was a happy time-the first time in several years, the family was together- the war was over, everyone was safe, rationing was coming to an end, and the hard times of living during the depression were over. This was a common event being held by families throughout the country. Happy times with the safe return of the sons from war. Of course, this was not universal-in the upper left is Bessie Schutz (Betty’s Mother-in-Law)—she had a flag hanging in her window at home with 2 gold stars and her youngest still serving overseas in the military.
So was this Dunning Gathering a big deal? Yes it was! For not only the Dunnings, and similar Christmas gatherings were being held by the majority families throughout the United States.
At this time, Betty was married, and started the beginning of the Baby Boom. In short order, Colleen, Chuck, and Francis did likewise. They all settled in Loveland, and the family get-togethers grew in size. Originally, we met Christmas morning in the Dunning house, and in the summer in the yard outside. These early gatherings were a tremendous amount of fun, and yes, they were a big deal. Just check the photo albums of any Dunning and you will undoubtably find pictures of these reunions throughout the years.
Other families throughout the country were doing the same, but as families members moved away, family gatherings became more difficult and less frequent. The Dunnings, however, were all living in or around Loveland and as the families grew, Grampa Dunning continued to put out the call summer and winter, and we would all gather. To us, it was a normal way of life, but to our friends-this was something that was not part of their family life, to them, it was unusual, and a big deal.
Over time, the Dunning families grew even larger, and they started moving around. By the early 60’s, several had settled in the Denver area, the last of the baby boomers were being born, and the family patriarchs were beginning to leave us. But the gatherings continued. The next generation began sending out the invitations-summer and winter (the Christmas gatherings changed from Christmas to winter gatherings- first Sunday after the Super Bowl), and one was held in Loveland, the other in Denver. Every gathering brought new faces. It became a way to reconnect with cousins, aunts and uncles you hadn’t seen in a while; and a way to meet new people coming into the family. It was always fun, but we didn’t think of it as a big deal-it was just something we always did.
Today, that second generation is now all gone, but the next generation-the baby boomers-are continuing the tradition. It is now 75 years that the Dunning family has beengathering- generally twice a year. This year we are without any of those in the above picture, but we do have 3, maybe 4, generations of their descendants gathering again in Loveland this week. In 1945, the family patriarch and his children gathered for Christmas, now in 2020, we have a 75 year history of that family and their descendants (that spans 5 generations) still gathering every year.