Springer Family Reunion Exceeds Expectations
August 11, 2006 - Weeks later, the Springer Family Reunion is still the topic of discussion amoung those who were lucky enough to be in attendance. To a person, everyone who was there said it was the best family reunion they had ever been to. The only complaint seemed to be that it was over too quick. Most would have loved another day or two to get aquainted with new generations, or catch up with relatives unseen for too long.
The locale was ideal. The Black Hills of South Dakota were scenic and historic. It was the American heartland at its best. We arrived a day early to sightsee at Mt. Rushmore, the Borglum Museum in Keystone, and the Crazy Horse Monument. The Palmer Gulch KOA Campground and Lodge were beautiful, clean and comfortable with a rustic ambiance.
The weather was perfect: warm sunny days and cool clear evenings. A brief thunderstorm rolled through early, but fair skies prevailed. Temperate most of the time, it did seem quite warm on Saturday afternoon during the group photos. Considering what it could have been though, we were very fortunate. We beat the real heat wave, which settled in at well over 100 degrees for much of July.
With the many places to sightsee and activities to join in, there was not a point (even during group photos or meals) where everyone was gathered together at any one instant. This made an accurate headcount very difficult. The official tally had to be around 200 in attendance. I knew 6 beforehand, so I was meeting a lot of fascinating kinfolk I never knew before. It became a blur of names and faces. Fortunately for me, I won the raffle Grand Prize: a 50’ long family tree to help me sort out the new names and faces and how they were related. It will be a great tool to assist in tracking the whitelock too. There were at least 30 people in the whitelock photo session, by far the most whitelocks I have ever seen gathered in one place.
Life magazine was there with a reporter and photography crew. They were interested in doing an article about family reunions, and, out of a dozen different reunions, selected ours as the subject of their article. It will be in the August 25 issue of the newspapers that carry the Life magazine insert. Aside from the large projected attendance, the whitelock that runs through the family intrigued them. They took lots of photos, an abundance of photos. It should be an interesting article.
This site, Whitelock.Info was introduced to the world at the reunion. We had some t-shirts and fliers made to spread the word. There was a good bit of interest expressed about the site, especially by those with whitelocks. Hopefully they will spread the word further. Life magazine also seemed interested, and may mention it in their article.
All in all, the Springer Family Reunion was a total success, by any way you care to measure. The next one will be somewhere in Colorado in approximately 3 years. You can keep track of the developing plans at www.SpringerFamilyReunion.com . I, for one, will plan to be there again.
New Site Breaking Ground On The Web
June 20, 2006 - The bugs are being worked out at the new website Whitelock.Info in anticipation of a July 4th Grand Opening. The site is breaking new ground on the Internet by developing a community focused on people possessing a unique familial trait: white forelocks. A favorite subject among geneticists, the white lock has been studied since the ancient Egyptians and early Greek societies. "We often raise eyebrows with our rather unique pigmentation," said Mike Reilly, founder of the site.
"Guys with a good forelock can really stand out in a crowd. In this modern society, we're more used to seeing women with streaked hair. But because the true whitelock is such a stark white, there's no mistaking it for just an aggressive highlight job. Unfortunately my receding hairline has all but done away with my whitelock. I miss it."
There is much more to it than a simple white lock of hair, however. That is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The source of the white hair is a patch of white skin. Due to an inherited genetic condition, called Piebaldism, this skin is lacking in pigmentation. Hair growing on that skin also lacks pigmentation, hence the snow white color. Those who have the white forelock generally have more patches of unpigmented skin. The patches occur most often at mid-legs, frontal trunk, inside or back of arms, throat and forehead. These are usually symmetrically distributed on both right and left sides. There are often freckle to coin sized islands of pigmented or hyper-pigmented skin near the edges of the unpigmented skin. The rest of the face, shoulders, back, hands and feet typically have normal pigmentation.
Piebaldism is a rare autosomal dominant trait. This means it is not tied to the chromosomes that determine sex, so males and females alike can inherit it. One of the parents must possess the trait. It does not skip generations. You have to have it to pass it along, and if you have it, the odds are roughly 50/50 you can pass it along. It is merely a question of which parent's pigmentation gene wins the coin toss.
It is both a blessing and a curse that it is so rare. A blessing it's rare because it can be so disruptive and restrictive to today's active lifestyles. Great care should be taken to minimize exposure to the sun. A mere 15 minutes of direct sunlight can cause intense sunburns on unprotected unpigmented skin. Too many sunburns means increased risk of skin cancers. Piebaldism's rarity is a curse because there are so few of us out there that no real resources have been focused towards any research to identify a remedy.
Whitelock.Info wants to address both the blessing and the curse. "We want to educate and support those with the condition. Help us all live the fullest lives we can. And by gathering us all in a group, to begin to focus some attention to the condition. Perhaps one day gene repair will be as common as other procedures are today. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. We are going to start being the squeaky wheel on the Internet. If we find there are a lot more of us out there than they think, maybe we'll start getting some research resources directed towards reversing Piebaldism. If not, we'll still have made some new friends."
Springer Family Reunion
June 20, 2006 - The Black Hills of South Dakota will be teeming with visitors this coming weekend, June 23-25. They come by the hundreds from far and wide for the Springer Family Reunion. Relatives young and old meet up again to enjoy each other's company in the very scenic setting of the Palmer Gulch KOA outside Hill City, SD. Both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments are nearby.
Whitelock.Info will be there too! This site's premature birth was induced to coincide with this reunion. We are doing a Pre-Grand Opening at the reunion because, as many of you know, this Springer family has many who carry our same white lock. In fact I am a not-too-distant Springer relation. My maternal Grandma's maiden name was Springer, from this family.
I will go to take in the sights, announce the coming website and to gather genealogical data (and lots of photos). I have high hopes of seeing more white forelocks together in one place than I have ever seen gathered before. This is a whole branch of the family I barely know, and I am looking forward to meeting with them. Be sure to check back in a week or so and I will fill you in on all the details.