Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Cousin Gary

It occurs to me that an entire volume or two could be written, just about the adventures shared between Cousin Gary and myself. The first time we met was around my second birthday. We lived in Olney, Illinois. A whole slew of family appeared about that time to visit, including Sandie, Cheryl, and Gary. I learned I had a huge extended family living back in Texas, and judging from photos taken, we had a grand time.

A couple of years later, we moved to Tyler, and I began to see more of my family. I'd spend a few weeks in summer with cousin Gary and he would come see me as well. Early on, we were going just about everywhere when we got together. I can recall us getting on our bikes and riding from Irving to West Dallas. Imagine kids doing that today? We'd head out in the morning, get back around supper time, then go back out, sometimes not getting home till quite late.

As teenagers sometimes we would go help Uncle J.B. lay tile. When we could drive, there came to be a hard and fast rule between the two of us. We did not go anywhere without getting stuck or having car trouble. It happened with such regularity it became quite a joke. Such as the time we were driving from the airport and the car ran out of gas on the freeway. We had to run across the freeway to go down and call someone to bring us some gasoline.

Or how about the time we were driving in the Trinity River bottom? Now it was a dry summer, and we are heading out across a pasture with a cloud of dust behind us it was so dry. Suddenly THUMP and we were buried to the axle in mud. Out here in this dry baron field, a water line had busted and of course we found it and had to get someone pull us out.

Some years later another adventure. It was in the early seventies and we had driven across the country. We stopped in Los Angeles to visit Cousin Lannie. He took us to a couple of gay bars, but we were all too intoxicated to notice. Then we stopped at a Dennys. A group of drag queens were there, and we began laughing hysterically at their jokes. One came over to talk to us.

"Where are you all from?" she said.

"Dallas," Gary and Susie replied and I added "Tyler."

"Omg! You are from Tyler? I grew up there and my momma lives there. On Border Street!"

It was great fun, they put on a show right there in the restaurant even as several trucker types grumbled at the counter. Later we went back to Lannie's place of business where his partner was right where we left him. Standing at the counter of the print shop, resting on his hand sound asleep snoring. I've never seen anyone before who could sleep like that standing up.

Our group went on to Disneyland. On the way, exhausted and hung over, we stopped by the beach, laid out our bags and went to sleep. When I awoke, I realized I had made a really bad mistake. Lil Miss Blondie here had second degree sunburns on her face on one side. The other side was faced downward and was still white as white can be. At Disneyland, children would grab their mommies when they saw me. Ever so often, feeling a bit impish I would grrrr at them. Their screams were so precious.

Then to San Francisco, after which we decided to make the drive right through back to Irving. On and on we drove, through the mountains up to the Continental Divide. We heard a funny grinding noise, but kept driving on in Gary's GTO. Down we went into the plains, through Oklahoma, then into Texas. AS we neared Boyd, Texas, the inevitable breakdown took place. That funny grinding sound was the bearings, and the left axle broke leaving us with no brakes at all. Coasting over to the side of the road, we came to a stop. Gary and I walked into town and found the owner of the auto parts store, then headed back. I'm no good at mechanics but he was and he set to work there on the side of the highway replacing the axle and bearings, his butt sticking out into the lane of traffic.

I stood out to wave cars over. Along came a woman, the rising sun in her eyes, and oblivious to me or the car or Gary kneeling there working. I jumped up and down and screamed at her. She noticed at the last minute and swerved. I dove for the ditch, and her car missed Gary's butt by about a foot. He was so absorbed (and no doubt exhausted) that he never noticed a thing.

We had many other adventures together as well. We camped in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and around Texas. We often took vacations at the same time. Perhaps some other tales of the two of us will surface from time to time. As well as adventures with my other cousins too, like Sandie and Kirby and others too.

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