We are now in the middle of those lazy, hazy days of summer. I have enjoyed watching and taking pictures of the Shay steam locomotive coming in and out of Elkins. This has definitely been a treat for rail fans, young and old. I have always had an indescribable fondness for trains since I was a small child and not at all ashamed to admit it.
I also like large group picnics. During the summer months when I was growing up, the Cobb side of the family enjoyed many picnics in Kanawha State Forest. A few days ago, I was looking at some black and white photographs made at one of those outings. In one photo, there was a group of 17 people including my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and several cousins. It is sad that 13 of these people are now deceased.
Right now, all of us have to accept the fact that this is the age of computers, computers games, and the Internet. For some people, particularly our youth, black and white pictures, steam locomotives and even large picnics belong in the dark ages.
For most youngsters, the excitement of school being out for the summer has worn off. Many of them are just sitting around the house doing nothing except maybe playing computer games and daydreaming. This is how too many young people get lazy and obese.
We all know that the price of gasoline has gone "out of sight" in the last 12 months. Yet the number of places to have a family or large group picnic less than 30 minutes drive is almost endless in Randolph County. This is the time for everyone regardless of age to simply "stir around." Such games as badminton, croquet, horseshoes, volleyball and even checkers are inexpensive; and they make large group picnics a memorable and pleasant occasion.
Like everything else, food for picnics can be expensive. There are many ways to keep the cost at a minimum. Keep the menu simple and limit the number of side dishes. This way one does not get away from the main course. Avoid bottled or canned beverages. Bring large volumes of drinks that can be prepared at home such as lemonade, sweet tea and iced water. If one really wants to get a family involved, just ask everyone to bring a covered dish.
I remember a group picnic I went to at the Izaak Walton League a few years ago. The platter of three-dozen deviled eggs Ruth prepared was the first thing wiped out by the hungry crowd.
My grandfather was a member of the "Odd Fellows" in Kanawha County. I remember a picnic they had in Coonskin Park that ended up with a square dance later that evening which lasted several hours. Everything was just good, clean fun.
For other things to do, consider going hiking on a nature trail or wading in a nearby creek. Encourage youth to explore. Most teenagers like to dance. Ask someone to pack a CD player and disks with up-to-date music.
Yes, old-fashioned picnics are fun and they are healthful. Just being out in the fresh air in decent weather is good for just about anyone.