First cousins made lasting impression
I’ve written quite a lot about my parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. But I’ve never had much to say about my cousins, and I’ll limit this to first cousins for brevity’s sake.
I’m not certain how many living first cousins I have. My parents divorced when I was young, and you lose touch. But I can still come up with enough to fill a twin-engine charter flight, and I thought I would offer a list and describe a bit about each one. Some had a profound impact on my life.
Gwen: Once lined me up with a couple of her lovely friends. I didn’t marry either of them, however. Nor did I marry any of my cousins. Cousin-marrying went out in the South after the birth of whoever it was who invented instant grits.
Albert: He and I are left to carry on the Grizzard name. He has daughters. I have no children, but plenty of time left on my biological clock. Right?
Melba: She’s the only one of my cousins who is younger than me. We grew up together in our hometown of Moreland. One day when we were barely out of diapers, a bull got out of its pen and began to chase us.
“ Run for it, Melba!” I screamed.
Melba picked up a rock and hit the bull between the eyes with it and it ran away. Melba saved my life. As far as I know, however, Melba never made it to Pamplona. Good news for the bulls there.
Mary Ann: Melba’s sister. She was very smart and married the smartest boy in Moreland. They had lots of smart children. Now they also have lots of smart grandchildren. We’re getting old, Mary Ann. Seems like only yesterday you were quashing the Santa Claus myth for us younger kids.
Lynn: She’s where my looks went.
Jim: Lynn’s handsome brother. A nearby women’s college named Jim the best looking man at the University of Georgia when he was a student there and invited him to a banquet in his honor. Legend has it, he wore white socks with his tuxedo to the banquet. Jim never married until he was in his late 40s. He’s another one of my smart cousins.
Glenda: Gerry’s sister. We were inside Cureton and Cole’s store in Moreland one day when I was 8. Glenda was 12. There were some grapes sitting on the counter. “ Like grapes?” Glenda asked me. “ Love ’em,” I answered.
“ Why don’t you take one?” she suggested. “ they won’t mind.”
I pulled off one and ate it.
“ You know you’re going to hell for stealing that grape,” Glenda said. That was the last thing I ever stole.
Scooter: Gerry and Glenda’s brother. Great fisherman, great hunter and former county drag racing champion. He taught me to throw a curve ball. They hated the dreaded hook in Region 2-AA in ’63 and ’64.
Mickey: She also babysat me as a child and is why I’ve always had a thing for redheads, which, incidentally, has cost me about as much as those limited partnerships.
Mary Jean: The classiest lady I’ve ever know. She wouldn’t serve instant grits to a liberal Yankee Democrat.
It should be obvious I’ve been blessed with some great cousins. And if we had a family business, I wouldn’t hesitate to put a single one of them in charge of it.
Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.