Monday, April 08, 2013
G is for GIRL COUSINS
I’ve been thinking about my cousins, especially my GIRL COUSINS, for several days . . . I guess because of our reunion in June. We seven girl cousins had only three boy cousins, and they were a lot older than we were. The first time I remember them was when they were in the military in World War II, far away from us little Southern cousins in Louisiana. All of our boy cousins have passed away, so now we girls are left to tell stories. I’m so sorry that I don’t know many about the boys.
I never lived close to my girl cousins when I was a child, but we always got together in the summer, when my mother and I visited her parents in Logansport, Louisiana, not far south of Shreveport. Let me introduce you to Marilyn, Linda, Gail, JoAnn, Leah, and Sheila.
Marilyn was older than the rest of us, though not by many years, maybe three or four. Before I was born, she was like my parents' little girl. Mother and Daddy were married for nine years before I was born and thought they never would have children. They really spoiled Marilyn, so it’s a wonder that she wasn’t jealous of me. I don’t think she was, though, because we were good cousin-friends right up until the day she died. When we were all together in the summer, she bossed us around a good bit, and we complained, but I don’t think her bossiness hurt any of us. When her parents died within three months of each other, our home became her home. What I mean by that is that whenever she went “home” from college, she came to our house. There was a really good reason for that, but I’ll cover the reason a little later. When all of us got older and had our own families, we referred to Marilyn as the matriarch of our family.
The next girl cousin was Linda. We never saw much of her, but I loved being with her whenever we could get together. The main memory that I have of her is being at her house on the Fourth of July when I was about eight or nine. I was such a “fraidy cat” that I ran in the house when all the other kids were lighting sparklers. I missed out on a lot of fun when I was a child!
The one after Linda was Gail. Gail and I are the closest in age and had lots of fun when we were together, playing movie stars mainly. I remember that she always wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t remember who I was, but I thought Liz was perfect for her because Gail had hair and beautiful eyes like the star. We also played paper dolls and walked downtown by ourselves to the movie when I visited her. At one time, her mother had some health problems that needed treatment in New Orleans, where my mother, daddy, and I lived. Gail and her mother lived with us for about six weeks. She attended my school during that time, and she was so smart. I had to study for my good grades, but everything came naturally to her. Sometimes we’d get in arguments, and our mothers would punish us by putting us in closets. I’d be relegated to my mother’s, and Gail would be put in mine, where the toys were. She’s scream and cry the whole time. Never could understand that because she had everything to play with. I had fun dressing up in Mother’s clothes. Gail and I have so much fun reminiscing about those days.
I came after Gail, but I’m not my cousin, so I’ll pass on me.
JoAnn was next. She was Marilyn’s little sister, and they lived in Shreveport, the closest cousin to our grandparents. As a result, she went to Logansport much more than the rest of us did and knew our grandparents better. I don’t think I ever went to Logansport when Jo wasn’t there. As soon as I arrived, we started playing house or dolls. What fun we had! We woke our babies up in the morning, fed them during the day, bathed and dressed them, and put them to bed right on time in the evening. We also read movie star magazines and went to the movie downtown almost every evening because everybody’s favorite uncle, Bud, would give each of us a quarter, pile us in his truck, deposit us at the theater, and pick us up when the show was over. Sometimes we’d see the same movie two or three times during the week. Jo, Gail, and I also wrote letters to each other when we were at home. They always began, “Dear Jo (or Gail), How are you? I am fine.” That’s all I remember, though. When Jo and Marilyn’s parents died, the younger sister was in seventh grade. Jo spent the summer of 1954, after her parents were gone, with us in Pensacola and was supposed to live with our aunt and uncle in Texas, who had no children and were so happy about having her become their little girl. But she wasn’t happy, and nothing would do but she had to go back to live with Auntie, Uncle Arlie, and Sandra (that’s what everyone called me back then, but now the only person in the world who calls me that is JoAnn). So, in August 1954, I got a little sister . . . but she wasn’t a baby; she was thirteen, just a little shy of a year younger than I was. Both of us were happy! Today, she is still a sister to me!
After Jo came Leah and Sheila, two sisters, and the only ones who didn’t live in Louisiana. They lived way out in West Texas. They, too, were in Logansport lots of times when my mother and I were there. The thing that I remember most about them when we were children is putting on shows for our grandparents in the evenings. We’d practice all day and then perform for them. They loved our performances, encouraging us with smiles and laughter and applause. The only show that I really remember was the one in which Leah and Sheila would sing and dance to “Ballin’ the Jack.” In case you’ve never heard the song or in case you’ve forgotten, here are the words:
Now, first you put your two knees
Close up tight.
Then you swing ‘em to the left
Then you swing ‘em to the right.
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
Then you twist around and twist around
With all of your might.
Stretch your lovin' arms straight out in space
Then you do the eagle rock with style and grace.
Swing your foot way round and bring it back
Now that's what I call ballin' the jack!
They were so cute, swinging their skinny little arms and legs around. The three of us are still very close! (I just googled this song to get the lyrics and found that part of it is very risque, but I'm not telling which part. We surely didn't know that, and we didn't know it when we performed it as old folks at our first cousins' reunion four years ago!)
We have two more girl cousins, but they’re a lot younger than the rest of us. Kay is Gail’s little sister. I believe that Gail was about thirteen when Kay was born. I don’t have any childhood memories of her, but we’re great friends as adults. She’s such a sweet lady, whose heart is all wrapped up in three children and several grandchildren.
Becky is even younger than Kay. She is the only child of that favorite uncle of ours, Bud. When we had our first Kolb Cousins’ Reunion four years ago, she could hardly wait to get together with us old folks so that she could learn wonderful things about her dad, who died when Becky was only about five years old. We filled her ears! Lots of tears during our daughter’s slide show because we had collected lots of photos of Bud.
We have had two reunions now and are planning the third for this summer. When we Kolb cousins get together, I’ll assure you there’s no dead air. So many good cousin memories!
Kolb Cousins at Our First Reunion
(Leah, Sheila, Sandy, Becky, Gail)