Summer’s Last Hoorah

September 3, 2010

Cousins Carol, Judith and Barbara, 1943

It’s Labor Day weekend and families everywhere are grasping for the last carefree days of summer before buckling down to the long winter ahead.

Labor Day reminds me of camping in Grayling, MI, with cousins from my father’s family. This then takes me to getting together with relatives of both sides and the unique relationship cousins bring to the family tree. Bound by blood but not so “every-day-in-your-face” as siblings, cousins are an important part of a child’s growing up.

We’ve mentioned the large extended family my grandmother Ruth had while growing up. With 11 aunts and uncles on the Hornburg side alone, she was surrounded by a huge population of cousins. On the other hand, Ruth’s daughters Carol and Judith had a much smaller network simply because their parents’ siblings had fewer children.

Isn’t the photo above beautiful? We can look at it artistically and see three little girls lit by the sun in a moment of focused play. We can also look at it historically and see a perfect summation of Carol and Judith’s cousin network: Barbara Jean.

Carol and Judith had other cousins as well—their Uncle Art Larson and his wife Ruby had three children, and their Uncle Clarence Larson and his wife Roselda were foster parents to several children. But according to Judith, it was Barbara Jean who they saw the most. Barbara Jean, who also went by the name Boots, was the daughter of Esther (Ruth’s husband’s sister) and Lloyd Mann, and they lived in Gaines, MI.

In recent months I’ve been thrilled to get together with some of my own cousins—cousins I haven’t seen in years.

My cousin Phil and his wife Kim invited me for lunch earlier this summer. Phil is Judith’s son and as we reminisced, he recalled visits to my family’s home when we both were kids. Now, you’ve gotta know the story of my childhood home to fully appreciated Phil’s recollections. My parents built their home over a period of years, and years, and YEARS. During that time we lived in it and flourished in it’s unfinished state. My mother, Carol, apparently just threw in the towel because not only did she tolerate a home completely out of her character, she also let each of us have a myriad of pets, many of them in the house when they were of the specie that should have been outside.

Phil said he remembered staying at our house and sleeping in bedrooms with only 2×4’s for walls. He also remembered dogs roaming the house at night with their toenails scratching the floor.

Now that I’m grown, I realize such a household was not exactly conventional. I asked Phil how strange they considered our family when they visited in those days?

Phil is so diplomatic. He said they always thought of it as an adventure.

He’s such a nice cousin.

Carol, Judith, and Barbara Jean, 1938

Carol (right), Judith and cousin Barbara Jean in the buggy, 1938

Don’t you just love Carol’s coat, hat and shoes? And that buggy—imagine the value it would have today!

Carol, Judith and Barbara Jean, 1943

Carol, Judith and Barbara Jean, 1943

Another shot of the top photo. Both pictures were taken from the front porch of George and Ruth’s home at 8245 S. Ada St. in Chicago.

Larson Family in Imlay City, MI, 1945

Larson Family in Imlay City, MI, 1945

A visit to the family farm: From left, George Larson standing behind Carol, Ruth Larson standing behind Judith, Roselda (Clarence’s wife) standing behind Barbara Jean, and Clarence Larson.

According to Judith, Barbara Jean’s mother was a hairdresser. Looking at the three girls’ hair, I’m thinking she got a hold of them for a few hours before this photo session. And look at Carol, is she holding…what…a DOG? Little did she know what was ahead in her future:-)

Rachel and Di, July 2010

Rachel and Di, July 2010

This July my husband Glen and I had a wonderful time visiting my Aunt Judith (Ruth’s daughter) and Uncle Art. While we were there their daughter Rachel stopped by. I hadn’t seen her in years and she looked as great as ever.

Art, Judy, Di & Glen, July 2010

Art, Judy, Di & Glen, July 2010

Here’s Art and Judy, with my husband and me. Spending a weekend with them was a great opportunity for meaningful conversation and reminiscing. They’re such special people.

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2 Responses to “Summer’s Last Hoorah”

  1. Aunt Judy Says:

    Di, I’m loving your blog, and check it out each time I go to the library. i have just a couple of corrections on the last pics. In th picture of Carol, Judith and Barbara Jean,1938, Boots is in the buggy and I’m the one with the big,fat cheeks!! In the Larson Family in Imlay City,1945, it is Aunt Roselda, Clarence’s wife standing behind Barbara Jean, but it was Aunt Esther who gave each of us girls a perm. Also, I loved the picture of you and Rachel. Ours is still in our camera!! Keep the stories coming! I’m lovin’ it!

  2. adunate Says:

    Thanks Aunt Judy for the corrections! I wondered how you’d fit in that buggy if you were two years old! (But my you were a shorty – by the 1943 picture Barbara is taller than you:-)

    Keep the comments coming! We love your input!


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