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Meet My Wicked Stepfamily

Wicked AWESOME stepfamily that is! I hate even typing the word “step” because these folks are family.

When John Crouse married Mom, he got two young kids in the deal-my little brother and me. However, we got the better end of that deal. We got John as a dad and a new family full of 100+ aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and in-laws who call themselves outlaws.

We come from every walk of life and represent more varied professions than national job fair. We have musicians, EMTs, authors, foremen, doctors, car whisperers, brewers, actors, consultants, teachers, artists, ship builders, dungeon masters, tech gurus, professors, firemen, inventors, flamenco dancers and any other occupation you can imagine. Each year, we come from all over the world to find commonalities in our love of this family.

Yes, 100+ of us get together at Walden Woods Resort, a rustic retreat started by John’s grandfather, that once played host to disruptors, innovators and brilliant minds of the day like Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Herbert Hoover and Thomas Edison. Each of J. Robert Crouse’s six children, including my wonderful stepgrandfather Henry, returned with their families to Walden Woods.

John’s family embraced us and treated us as one of their own. My brother and I loved zipping around the property on borrowed bikes with a gang of cousins, riding to the Grist Mill in the back of Uncle Ed’s vintage Model A truck and pigging out at every meal during our annual Family Weekend.

Most of all, I loved the stories. When I was a kid, Grandpa Heinie (Henry), Aunt Alma, Uncle Phil and their generation would sit on the porches of Friendship, Sunshine and Cromaine sharing tales of their adventures at Walden Woods. This year, I was humbled and honored to interview the current oldest generation to chronical their stories of growing up at Walden Woods.

Another thing we did this year was bury my amazing stepdad in the family cemetery surrounded by this incredible group of people I get to call family thanks to him. His love and his family were the greatest gifts he could have ever given to Mom, my brother and me.

If you’d like to learn more about Walden Woods and J. Robert Crouse, you can visit the website at WaldenWoods.com.

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