Attendees at Maywood’s 20th Annual Old Timers Picnic on Aug. 20. Picnic co-organizer Jean Weathers, (below right with her longtime friend Francis Harris), said the annual event has become such a huge draw because it reminds people of how close the town used to be. | Photos by Shanel Romain
Tuesday, August 23, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Hundreds converged behind the police station in Maywood last Saturday to remember a place where everybody knew each other — most often by nickname.
“You either had a nickname they called you by or if they called your whole name you knew they were from Maywood,” said Audrey Jaycox during the annual Maywood Old Timers Picnic on Aug. 20. It was the 20th anniversary of what has become one of the village’s most anticipated get-togethers.
“People travel from all over the country for this,” said Jean Weathers, who along with Jaycox and a group of 10 others coordinated this year’s picnic, which coincided with a book bag giveaway co-sponsored by Youth on the Move, the Maywood Police JAG program, Danka’s Basketball League and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins.
Earlier that day, Danka’s Basketball League hosted a basketball tournament for roughly 60 kids. The picnic’s organizers said they’ll need that kind of cross-generational synergy if there are to be 20 more Old Timers picnics.
“Another generation is going to have to come to the table to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” said Jaycox. “Some people who were here last year have died, so it’s getting kind of small.”
Weathers said she and her co-organizers are the second generation of past and present Maywoodians to have stepped up to plan this annual event. Those before them — people like Bettye Rivers, Gwen Franklin and Marilyn Jefferson — passed the mantle several years ago.
“The people who first started (the picnic) called themselves the Maywood Old Timers,” Jaycox said. “Each year, different people were recognized from the community. We used to have a great, big luncheon (at a banquet hall) and hand out awards and plaques to different people in the community.”
The banquet eventually gave way to an annual picnic, which has since been open to the public. When Jaycox was on the board, she pushed for the village to fund the annual event.
“Audrey made this a lot easier to pull off,” said Weathers, who didn’t hesitate when asked what keeps people coming back for the annual get-together.
“Maywood used to be a wonderful community,” she said. “It was like a family. Everybody knew everybody.”
Jaycox noted that the village’s tightly knit fabric of kinship was due, in part, to the town’s history of segregation. Up until the late 1960s, most of the village’s black population was contained, by restrictive housing covenants, to a five-block radius that extended from Madison St. to St. Charles Road and from 10th to 14th Avenues. Washington Elementary was the only elementary school black children were allowed to attend.
“Based on how they squared us off in terms of living, we did everything together,” said Jaycox.
That familial feeling, said Mayor Perkins, always comes back around this time of year. When asked what keeps people coming back to the annual event, the mayor scanned the park.
“This is old Maywood,” she said. “This is home. It’s home. You can’t beat home.” VFP
This year’s Old Timers picnic organizers included: Edward Howard | Barbara Bailey | Audrey Jaycox | Jean Hillery Weathers | Susie Walker Cook | Quida Brewer | Sue Taylor Henry | Marcia Johnson | Kim Johnson | Eva Logan | Harold Logan | Sheila Alexander | Terry Perkins Williams