TRAVEL BUG TALES: VISITING MY HOUSTONIAN CONNECTION
So, I was twelve and we’d recently moved back to Texas after living in Georgia for about six years. My parents decided I should get to know my cousins and a goodly number of them lived in Houston. I’m not sure that all the things I’m going to tell you about this trip actually happened on this trip, but that’s the way my memory has filed them away.
Uncle Al’s House
Of all my aunts and uncles, Uncle Al was the one most serious about procreation. He had kids stair-stepping from diapers to tween-agers. The tween-agers were Bubba and Judy. Bubba would be lost in later years to a very unfortunate accident, but Judy was my buddy – still is. I’d spent time with her at Ma’am’s house during summertime visits. The rest of Al’s kids were a maze of faces, many surrounded with angelic blonde curls, but I had a heck of a time trying to keep them straight.
Uncle Al was a favorite with everyone. Back in the sixties he ran/owned (I’m not sure which) a gas station, a very lucrative proposition. Good thing with so many mouths to feed. I remember being quite impressed with his home in Houston. At one time, they lived in Melissa and I wondered how they fit everyone into the white clapboard house, but in Houston they were doing alright.
Later in his life, music was Uncle Al’s passion. I have no idea what his financial situation was, but he was a regular at the Garland Opry. He lived in a house in McKinney with his new wife, but I never liked her as much as the fun-loving Vernice I had grown up knowing. When Uncle Al passed away, he had a country/western funeral. All his friends and fans from the Opry showed up. Funerals come and go, but Uncle Al’s was unique.
On this particular trip, we were merely stopping by for a visit. We’d be staying several nights with some of our other cousins, but for whatever reason, this was our only time with Uncle Al. I got the impression they had a lot of fun there. I remember a screen door in the kitchen that was perpetually slamming shut as one or the other of the kids ran in or out of the house. Their backyard seemed huge compared to the tiny postage stamp behind most of the houses I’d lived in. I’m sure they had a dog, a swingset and lots of green grass. I thought they must be the luckiest kids in the world.
I’m sure there was a meal, but I have no recollection of it. I just remember the big house and yard, lots of loving faces and more toys than toy store.
A Recent Re-Acquaintance
Back in April, we had a Cave Cousin Reunion. It was organized by my buddy Judy. Along with others of my cousins, I saw Judy’s brother and sisters, at least what there was left of them. Bubba and Vicky have been gone for a long time now. I will never forget Vicky’s funeral. It was a cold wet day and Vernice grieved at the thought of leaving her babies in the cold. Uncle Al, has been gone for a long time too, but Vernice was at the reunion. She and her kids are fighting a terrible, mean disease that steals memory and joy from its victims, but I’m proud of the way my cousins are loving her through it. If you come back next week, we’ll visit some of my other cousins.