First cousins made last­ing im­pres­sion

The Covington News - - Newton at play -

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.

Lewis Griz­zard

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