Gore & Roar’s Ever-Expanding Picnic Group

Jul 24, 2018 | 2 comments

Yesterday was Gordon’s birthday.  He would have been 92.  Never mind that he never made it to Birthday Number 88.  He’s no doubt ‘been’ at every single Gordon Memorial Picnic his friends have had since.  And he’s probably loving it that the group is continuing to expand, even as it diminishes, year after year.

I don’t know if Gordon and Roy (read:Gore and Roar) did the picnic-at-the-drop-of-a-hat thing when they lived in Seattle, but I do know that they began the tradition here just as soon as they arrived back in the early seventies.  By the time I arrived on the scene in 1978, there was already a well-defined “Picnic Group” with procedures and protocols all its own.

There was no particular leader. “Instigator” might have been a more correct term. The phenomenon went something like this:  By mid-afternoon the day would have stabilized to something on the plus side of no rain.  Someone (very often Gordon) would start calling members of the group and say that there would be a picnic at five o’clock (or four or six or maybe even noon) at a certain location (often a local park or their own back yard or the beach in front of someone’s house).

Food assignments were loosely made with the instigator often offering to barbecue burgers or hotdogs and everyone else pulling together salads or chips or cookies. We each brought our own picnic basket with utensils, plates, cups and whatever we wanted to drink.  For Gordon that usually meant martinis. For the rest of us it could be cokes or seven-up or beer or wine or maybe a flask of something or other.

The group included Gordon and Roy, Gordon’s cousin Jeannie, Patty and Noel Thomas, Kaye and Charlie Mulvey, Jim and Kay Buesing, Betty Newell, Marjorie Horner, Chuck and Dorothy Huggins, and any “visiting firemen” (which I was at first and as was Nyel a few years later).  Jim always flew a kite or two and he and Charlie never failed to have a couple of jokes to tell.

If it was an “occasion” like someone’s birthday, there were presents from the Funny Drawer or whatever  you might call your equivalent dumping ground for white elephants and impossible gifts from your mother-in-law.  The biggest thing about the picnics was that there was absolutely no agenda except to enjoy one another’s company.

As our numbers dwindled, we began to invite new people to join us – Gordon’s book club members and some of our Friday Nighters.  Though the frequency of our get-togethers diminished, Gordon remained the pivotal member right up until he left us in 2014. It seemed appropriate to continue with at least one picnic a year – on his birthday.  Yesterday he would have been 92.  And, although he would have been over the moon to see his long-time neighbor 103-year-old Betty Paxton in our midst, he might have been just a tad envious that she is now well into the three digits.  On the other hand, the martini-decorated-cake that Betty and daughter Jan brought would probably have made all the difference!


  1. Karen

    Awwww, I love this! I’m sure Unc was enjoying a Tito’s with a twist while overseeing the picnic. Great memories ??

  2. Jan Paxton

    Great pictures and story, Sydney! Thanks for posting! ???


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