The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

September 2, 2013

"Our parents would have loved this": Three generations of family reunite in St. Michael

ST. MICHAEL — It has been nearly a century since John and Mary McGinty settled in this tiny, blue-collar village.

In the decades that followed, the Irish leather shop owner-turned immigrant coal miner and his family worked and celebrated hard, getting together annually for summer holidays like this one, his granddaughter, Pattie McGinty-Hagedorn said.

On Sunday, three generations of his family – McGinty’s grandchildren, their children and grandchildren – reunited once again, in the same Fourth Avenue backyard where they have been gathering for reunions since the early 1950s.

“This backyard,” McGinty-Hagedorn said, “this is the tie. This is always where we ended up – where we had so many memories.”

The annual family reunion once fell by the wayside for years, but was restarted in 2011 after Pattie’s father, James, passed.

Bridget McGinty-Turner bought her father’s old Fourth Avenue home around the same time and the get-togethers have become annual Labor Day traditions once again.

“When Dad died, I said to myself, ‘This is the McGinty house. I can’t let it go,’ ” she said.

The home sits just a stone’s throw from John and Mary’s first home, which sits across an alley from McGinty-Turner’s yard.

This year, approximately 20 of the family’s 58 living members made the trip, traveling from as far away as California.

For McGinty-Hagedorn, 63, it was her first reunion at her childhood home in years, she said.

It meant reconnecting with some family for the first time in decades.

“I hadn’t seen my cousin Chuck in 50 years,” she added.

The family barbecued outdoors Sunday, reminisced about their parents’ generation – five brothers served in World War II – and then released balloons at their grandparents’ grave Sunday afternoon.

“Our parents ... would have loved this.

“If it was a party, they would’ve been there,” McGinty-Hagedorn said, joking with her cousin Bridget that their fathers would be toasting with Irish whiskey.

Now there are stories and new memories to share with a new generation, they said, noting some of John and Mary McGinty’s 25 great-great-grandchildren made the trip this year.

“We’ve come full circle,” McGinty-Hagedorn said, while flipping through old black-and- white photos with her aunts Alice Huff-McGinty and Rose Christani-McGinty.

“We’re all here again,” she said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/DavidHurst.

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