Unplanned reunion brings smiles

Published 1:07 am Monday, October 12, 2009

NATCHEZ — Sometimes the best things in life don’t have to be planned — they just happen.

That’s how Dr. Jerry Iles’ family reunion happened, anyway.

When The Dart landed next to Old Pond Road Saturday afternoon, cars lined the street and a locksmith worked in the yard.

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“We didn’t plan all of this,” Betty Iles said. “This is the first time we’ve all been together since 2000.”

Betty, Jerry’s wife, said earlier this year, Larry Iles of California, called and said he and his family were thinking about making a trip to Natchez to spend time in their hometown and with Jerry and Betty’s family.

Larry asked how the month of October looked for Jerry and Betty and it was settled.

Betty said in less than a 24-hour period déj vu set in.

Jerry’s brother Douglas from Virginia called and said he and his family wanted to come visit in October as well.

“I asked him, ‘Did you talk to Larry?’ and he said he hadn’t,” Betty said.

She told Douglas to get in touch with Larry and for the both of them to coordinate a travel time.

While one of their brothers couldn’t make it, Jerry’s sister Christine Cassels and her two sons were able to make the impromptu reunion.

The result of the back-to-back phone calls was a group of approximately 20 family members meeting for a week full of smiles, humorous family stories and love.

All but one of Jerry’s still-living siblings were able to make it, and they brought their families along as well.

“There’s been a lot of reminiscing, teasing, lots of laughing and lots of picture taking,” Betty said.

At the mention of pictures, several groans were heard from the men present in the room, followed by laughter.

“The first family member arrived last Saturday,” Betty said.

But family members weren’t the only ones invited to Saturday’s get-together. The locksmith came too.

Cousin Martha Bougouis from Lake Charles, La., left the gathering early Saturday accidentally taking the keys to Larry’s rental vehicle back with her.

“We talked about different ways to reunite the car with its keys but we failed,” Betty said.

Larry said they’d called everywhere to find someone who could help him return the vehicle, which was due back Sunday, but everyone had been closed or couldn’t help, that is, until Allen’s Locksmith was contacted.

It would seem that at the end of the day, the Iles family had yet another story to add to its collection.