Keeping connected

For Magnolia Davis, 4th of July celebrations go beyond typical patriotic festivities. She’s more excited about baked pies and baby pictures than sparkling fireworks and spirited displays of American flags.

This year marks the Dubose family’s 50th reunion. Magnolia Davis, or ‘Mag’, is the youngest of six living Dubose siblings.

“I’ve been excited for 50 years, ever since we started getting together,” said Davis, who currently lives in Akron, Ohio but grew up in Montevallo. “Our biggest joy is seeing family we haven’t seen in a year or two.”

A sorrowful moment originally drew them all back home. Their mother, Bulah Smith Dubose, passed away in the 1950s. Bulah’s 13 children were then scattered across the country, but came together to honor their mother. A decade later they began their regular tradition of reuniting. Last year it was in Rochester, N.Y. where 90-year-old Brucella lives. This year they plan to reunite in Montevallo.

“We can’t get around like we used to so we have to cherish this time,” Mattie said. “This time it’s not a funeral. Its just fun.”

The Dubose moved to Montevallo when their father, John Dubose, took a job with Aldrich Coal Mine. Mattie said they didn’t see their father much, because he worked so hard, but that he did his best to provide for all 13 of his kids. A set of steps from the home they grew up in remains on the family property.

The family congregates now in the “Big House” where Mattie, her son Robert and her brother, John currently live.

Their brother Jimmy dreamed up the idea for the Big House. All the family pitched in to pay for the home. Every room includes multiple beds, so no one is without a place to stay.

The Dubose siblings said they pooled their money for the home, so that everyone would have a place to find their roots.

“We don’t ever want the younger generations to forget where we came from and how we got where we are,” Mattie said.

James Dubose, 84, lives in Detroit. He said he’s thankful the family continues to be close. More than 100 family members will gather for the reunion.

“I’m so excited the younger family members are taking over – I tell it to everybody what a blessed family we are.”

Every year a family member compiles a family scrapbook documenting who has graduated, who has gotten a job and who has passed away. There’s also a family directory and a list of birthdays.

“It lets everyone know what’s going on in each other’s lives,” said Mattie’s son, Robert Phillips.

The Duboses plan to gather for a picnic July 2. Some of the younger ones plan to go to Alabama Adventures July 3, while others will travel to a casino. Then finally they’ll relish in a family dinner that night and worship at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church on the 4th. Family members say their favorite part of the event will simply be spending time together at the Big House, with family they haven’t seen in years.

Family members travel from all over – Selma, Cleveland, Detroit and Rochester.

“We come this far by faith; that’s our motto,” Robert Phillips said.

Even the eldest of the siblings, Ruby Mitchell, 92 of Detroit, gives every effort to attend.

And she plans to continue doing so, ‘If it’s the Lord’s will,’ Mitchell said.