Sentimental brings the highest bid

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sherry Bunch Pratt thought of a unique idea for the annual Bunch family reunion auction and expressed her appreciation to Ellen White of Manila for making it happen.

Sherry Bunch made a keepsake clock from the wood from the floor of the old skating rink built by her dad in the late 1940s.

Sherry is the youngest of 12 children of the late George and Grace Bunch. Each year on the third week in July the family gathers in Smithville at Ridge Point Baptist Church Camp from Friday to Sunday. Descendants of George and Grace along with any cousins who want to attend enjoy the family gathering.

George and Grace Bunch raised their children in Manila where Mr. Bunch was a carpenter. He built their home on Lake Street in Manila in the mid-1950s. It has grown from the original two bedroom house.

Sherry retired from the Highway Department and has returned to Manila and lives in the house where she was raised. She said she loves being in the house her dad built and having her brothers and sisters visit.

The Bunch siblings include Arthur "Buddy" Bunch (deceased), Ruth Bunch Riggs (deceased), Helen Bunch Woolf (deceased), J.R. Bunch of Piedmont, Mo., Minnie Bunch Bourland of Fairfield, Calif., Martha Bunch Cary of Wentzville, Mo., Carolyn Bunch Bill of Manila, Jimmy Bunch of Manila, Yvettia Bunch (deceased), Michael Bunch, Sherry Pratt and Gary Bunch, all of Manila.

Each year at the reunion the family enjoys skits and an auction. Each person brings something to the auction table and sentimental items usually bring the most when the brothers and sisters start bidding against each other.

Sherry's auction item this year comes from a piece of family history. When she drives by the shoe factory owned by Jimmy and Ellen White she is reminded of memories told by her older siblings when the building was a skating rink built by their dad.

"I was too young to remember, but my brothers and sisters can share some really good stories of the skating rink days," Pratt said. "My parents operated the skating rink. There were columns people skated around and a concession area. They still talk about what a great skater my brother, J.R., was. I think they operated the skating rink from about 1948 until 1951."

Ms. Pratt got the idea to get a portion of the original floor and turn it into a large clock for the auction.

"I really thought Mrs. White will probably think I am crazy but all she can do is say no, so I stopped and asked if I could have some of the floor," she said. "I explained to her what I wanted and told her I would replace the floor I removed. I was elated when she said yes."

Ms. Pratt decided she needed to make two clocks, one for the auction and one to keep at her house. The floor is tongue and groove pine. Her son, Joseph, helped take up a 4x8' section of the floor.

On the front of clock is printed Bunch Skating Rink, Circa 1948.

One year Pratt made stepping (memory) stones with pictures and words for deceased family members.

"The stepping stone may hold the record for the highest bid throughout the years," she said. "I have a wonderful family and we have a wonderful time at the reunion. We do skits and then the auction. We always raise enough money to rent the facility and buy the food for next year's reunion. We all just have to get there. We look forward to being together every year. It is a family tradition we hope to keep going for many, many years."

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