‘It’s a Bailey thang’

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – It’s been a long time since the Bailey family came together in one setting. Three sisters, Ruby Jean Washington-Lunsford, Clara Mae Bailey-Dockins and Laura Mae Washington-Williams, served as the catalyst for the family to be reunited.

Florida is the perfect convening place for the family that has been separated by space and time. It offers beautiful beaches, shopping malls, flea markets and amazing food. An interesting thought, native Floridians rarely take advantage of the available amenities and the visitors can’t get enough of them.

“My family traveled from Gainesville, Adel, Ga., Moultrie, Ga., Atlanta to come to St. Petersburg,” said Jerard Reedy, one of the local hosts and organizer of the reunion. “They enjoyed the beach, shopping malls and a mouth-watering seafood tray.”

Reedy served as the master chef of the seafood pot that included crabs, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes.  The out-of-town cousins tried to no avail to get the recipe. They should have known that Southerners rarely use a written recipe.

Ruby Jean Washington-Lunsford

Ruby Jean Washington-Lunsford

The Bailey family originated from the small town of Moultrie, Ga, which is an agricultural community set in the Southern Rivers region. The 1920 census record reveals the patriarch of the Bailey family as John Bailey and married to the matriarch, Laura Leight Bailey of Donaldsonville, Ga.

The census also indicates that there were 10 children in the household. One of the siblings, Violet Bailey, married Henry Washington of Cordele, Ga. To that union, six children were born, three boys and three girls. Clara, Ruby and Laura are the three sisters standing as the cornerstone of the 2018 Bailey reunion.

Clara Mae Bailey-Dockins

Clara Mae Bailey-Dockins

The last time the family gathered, there was talk from several family members of their desire to stay in touch and learn more about the family history. However, there needed to be a person to take the lead along with a few others to help reach out.

“My cousin Lee Shaper in Atlanta started a Bailey family group chat so he contacted me,” said Reedy. “On the call, the group voted to have a reunion here in St. Petersburg. We valued our family relationship, but still needed more fellowship with one another and on a good occasion, not just when someone dies.”

With the elders in the family getting older, Reedy expressed that it was time for the younger generation to take over.

Laura Mae Washington-Williams

Laura Mae Washington-Williams

Next year, the Bailey’s will be back together. They have yet to decide the exact location. One thing is for sure here in St. Pete, the beach is nice, shopping is good and the seafood tray is delicious.  Along with that, the excitement is up and the family fun is memorable.

With so much time and distance in between the gatherings, one might ask what took so long and why would the young people keep it going?  It’s just like the back of their t-shirts said, “It’s a Bailey thang and you wouldn’t understand.”

To reach Dexter McCree, email dmccree@theweeklychallenger.com

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