Barbara Asterino Skinner and Barbara Julian Garner

Barbara Asterino Skinner, left, talks with event organizer Barbara Julian Garner at the “Growing up in Watson” reunion Saturday.

FAIRMONT — Attendance was even greater than expected at the “Growing up in Watson” reunion Saturday.

People who live or lived in the neighborhood attended the reunion at the Knights of Columbus on Mary Lou Retton Drive, which is part of the Watson area.

Event organizer Barbara Julian Garner said she expected 121 people would show up, but she said more than 125 came to the event.

She thought it was “a very good response.”

“We had a little more than expected,” she said.

Garner said one woman who attended was 103 years old while two other attendees were in their 90’s.

Many brought their children, grandchildren and great-children, she noted.

She enjoyed reliving the memories of growing up in the coal town and seeing old acquaintances.

“It’s very good to see them,” she said. “It’s really nice to sit down and talk with them.”

She said they reminisced about such things as the grade school, the playground, the ball diamond, the Catholic church and the Protestant Church.

“They were very happy to see one another,” she said of the attendees.

Garner said the town was symbolic of the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” long before it was popularized.

She said they would “look out for each other.”

Sadly, she noted that one person, Carolyn Delorenzo, who served on the team planning the event, passed away and wasn’t able to see the reunion become a reality.

Another person who attended the reunion, Barbara Asterino Skinner of Alexandria, Va., said the reunion is “such a special time in our lives.”

She, too, was enjoying reconnecting with old acquaintances.

“I haven’t seen some of these people in 60 years because they didn’t go to our high school reunions, and Watson is a special background heritage community of the coal miners’ descendants, and they’ve kept in touch all these years, and I’m so proud that they’ve stayed together and organized this,” she said.

When asked about her fondest memory of Watson, she said it was “just the friendliness and the warmth and the people who stuck together and helped each other out, just like small towns.”

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or

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