2011.08.17 Those cousins never grow up

Written by David Green.

By the shores of Lake Louise

By DAVID GREEN

If I remember right, I hadn’t been at the Lake Louise cottage for more than an hour when cousin-in-law Paula said something about hoping I would gather enough material for a column.

I guess my plight is well known. I’m always in need of column material. If I do something or go somewhere, it better prove worthy of column fodder or I’ve wasted my time.

I told Paula that I didn’t think I was going to get much from the visit, and I think I said something about wasting my time, but I think she knows I was joking. I don’t really consider a column-less excursion as a waste of time. Instead, it’s just a bonus if it does result in something.

Colleen and I drove my parents to a gathering of relatives from my mother’s side of the family. Two of her three sisters were present. Seven of the 12 cousins were able to attend. A good time was had by all, I think.

Friday was my Uncle Burt’s birthday—somewhere up in the 80s—as well as Uncle Bert and Aunt Toni’s anniversary—somewhere in the low 60s.

They had rented a cottage on Lake Louise which is also apparently known as Thumb Lake. I don’t know which name came first. It’s located a few miles northwest of Vanderbilt near the top of the Lower Peninsula.

As we neared our destination, my parents mentioned that they both attended church camp at the large Methodist camp at Lake Louise, although I assume not at the same time. I don’t know if they ever tried to figure that out. It was a few years ago, and it was Lake Louise to them, even though we turned down Thumb Lake Road.

My father attended as a Congregationalist because the two Morenci youth groups were meeting together at that time in their history. Since my father wasn’t a Methodist, he didn’t have to attend the sessions that most of the kids were engaged in. He had more time to play.

It took about four and a half hours Friday for us to drive to the lake. The trip back in the 1930s must have taken my father almost double that time. He rode in the back of the Hummon family’s farm truck with a canvas stretched over the top. How things have changed.

Several of us cousins see each other at least once every couple of years, but this gathering was more inclusive with Cousin Jeff and his family in from Oregon. There were four generations present.

It seems funny how I look at my cousins and see them as kids. I suppose it varies a little from cousin to cousin as to what age I peg them at. 

Tim and Jeff are always elementary school age. The same for their sister, Sue.  Andy is young high school. Janine and Karen must be around junior high age. Gail is probably the “oldest” although she’s the youngest. She was quite young when I was a kid, but I’ve seen her a lot as an adult and I think that’s where she’s lodged.

It’s rare to visit with Cousin Steve, out in Nebraska, but he pretty much remains the little elementary school kid. Visits were easier when we were kids and everyone lived in the Morenci/Flint/Detroit area. Now we’re spread across six states.

The cousin spouses escape this childhood fixation since I’ve known them only as adults, but I can imagine. Besides, when I look at my Cousin Jeff’s daughter Lena, for example, I must be seeing a lot of her mother, Julie, when she was a senior in high school.

These visits are all about memories of the past. I look at Uncle Burt and remember when he convinced all the kids he was serving kangaroo meat at a Christmas dinner.

One cousin or another will recall the games of Risk that were played after the holiday meal. Cousin armies moving across the map seeking world domination. Someone will mention “Running Nude Along the Bean,” a movie that my brother Dan created.

Sometimes the memories take an odd turn. How about this: Cousin Tim, now a Methodist pastor, knows former Morenci resident Amy Ackland from his church near Boyne City. Amy is still lodged in my mind as early high school and younger.

At least a few of the dozen cousins are likely to make it into our 80s like the five senior members from this event. When we gather for someone’s birthday, I wonder if they will have grown up. I’ll probably still see Tim as an 8-year-old as he hobbles across the lawn.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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