The weather was absolutely perfect, the tastes and aroma of picnic fare were irresistible, but most of all the spirit of friendship among old friends was awesome. Nearly 200 picnickers gathered at Bluebell Park for “The 4th Annual Back in the Day Picnic … the picnic of all picnics” on July 21.
The host committee has been working to spread the word and organize the increasingly popular picnic for a year. Lynda Brown Bagley, Michele Lewis Bell, Robert “Bobby” W. Williams III, Barry D. Crawford, Malcolm McGraw, Dr. Rusty Frye, Norris Roundtree, Lionel Sharpless and Donald Johnson did a fantastic job again this year.
So many families participated, including children and grandchildren of Philadelphians who have known each other as neighbors from a very young age. Many were classmates from elementary, junior high, high school, college and even graduate school. They attended Henry and Houston Elementary, Roosevelt Jr. High, Masterman, Cardinal Dougherty, Germantown, Girls’ High, Cheyney, Howard, Morgan Drexel, Lincoln and University of Pennsylvania among others.
They came together to relax, dance, reminisce and enjoy each other’s company. Of course there was no shortage of delicious food and grilling competition, tents, lawn chairs and blankets. A great selection of familiar tunes was provided by Dr. Rusty Frye and Michelle Perton kept the children thrilled with special face painting designs.
Just some of those “Out & About” enjoying the sun and fun were: Michelle Chew, Gus “Windy” Lacy, Jackie Johnson, Ronald “Beetle” Tyree, Janet Hunter, Mark Chandler, Lee Gaskins, Linda James MeGregor, Karen Ragland, Jackie Crawford, Linda Simpkins Scott, Donald Williams, Butch Williams, Ali and Helen Salahudin, Angi Brown Johnson, Meriam Lawson, Rodney Spears, Reggie Johnson, Phillip Lightfoot, Camille James Robinson, Meryl Evans, Barbara Blount Armstrong, Velma Chain, Iris Chew and Sue Hary Thomas.
The picnic, which begins early in the morning, is a daylong affair traditionally ending at dusk. At that time everyone joined hands in a huge circle. This year Tony Webster offered a beautiful prayer and friends no longer in the circle are remembered with love and good thoughts.
Everyone left nature’s beautiful backdrop of Bluebell Park with revelry of years gone by and the rejuvenation of friendship. After a day of laughing about their youth as well as their maturity they will meet in the same time, same place next year!
As I reflect upon the memories of the iconic Joe “Butterball” Tamburro, I do so with a smile. I think about fantastic memories and the joy he brought to generations by sharing his genuine love of music. When I wrote about his return to the scene at Temptations Banquet Hall in Germantown, I introduced myself and we spoke briefly. His voice resonated as did his kind spirit. I am thankful for the opportunity to have been able to personally express how I had been uplifted and entertained by him for years. You will be missed, “Butterball,” but your name will be spoken countless times for years to come. Thank you, and may you rest in peace.