I saw a picture the other day…three little boys and one little girl sitting, arms around each others shoulders. The caption read…That one girl……that always hangs out with the boys because its less drama. This so reminded me of my boy cousins and myself when we were growing up. My girl cousins (whom I loved dearly) were all older than me and were always primping in the mirror, fixing their hair and make-up and talking about cute boys. That just wasn’t my thing, but like I said I loved them dearly…Belinda, LeeAnn, Martha, Vicky, and Lacinda.
I always hung out with the boys…when they would let me…some were older but a couple were really close to my age. We were always hunting, fishing, boat & truck riding and swimming. Edwin, Johnny, Greg and Jeff. My first best friends…first boys to steal my heart… first boys to save me from Kevin (my big brother)… because when you are young…brothers are just a pain…unless their name is Karl or Sam :). They probably did not even want me around but knew better than to say anything because my Grandaddy would have got on their “happy-go-to-meeting” and nobody wanted that. So they let me hang out with them most of the time.
Edwin was the oldest and as far as I am concerned he was the “prettiest”. He will not like that comment but he had the prettiest eyelashes and blonde hair. With his tan skin it looked like he had his hair highlighted. He always had a really pretty girlfriend, and of course I thought that was cool. We went to church together so I got to see him a lot there and on youth trips. I remember he and Kevin would take small snakes to church in their pockets and let them crawl between them in the church pews…even at a young age, I thought…they are going to hell…..Jesus will not think that is funny. But they both turned out okay so I am sure their souls are safe. My favorite memories of Edwin are in the hunting woods. Our families would go hunting and really rough it…none of this cabin or trailer stuff….we did it old school….in tents….no toilets or running water. But some of the best times ever…I remember being really cold at night and having some great hot breakfasts in the mornings. There was a hog strung up being skinned and Edwin told me that the purple looking “stuff” inside was jelly…needless to say I ate only butter on my toast. (no electricity…frying pan toast…best you will ever eat!!)
Johnny was the wild one of the bunch. Not scared of nothing….rebel without a cause…and so much dang fun. I tasted my first moonshine with he and Kevin. (my oldest brother). I only tasted….but they thought they could “handle” it and got really sloshed and sick…we were supervised and they did learn a lesson. I would have loved to have had a movie camera for that. My favorite times with Johnny were when he would take me for a ride in his Datsun truck. I don’t think we ever went and did not get stuck…I think that was the whole idea…it became a ritual….and every time he asked I always went…I remember thinking how I wanted to marry a boy like him someday…I am sure his Mom and my Daddy would not have agreed but that’s how much I loved him…and still do.
Greg was closest to my age. We spent the most time together because my Aunt Diann babysat me while my Mama worked as a teachers assistant. Greg was more like a brother to me…we looked a lot alike…both had light reddish hair, fair skin, and freckles…when we were out and together with Aunt Diann everyone thought we were siblings. We played a lot together…trucks, dolls, whatever…we did not care. I just loved him and was happy to get to see him so much. There was never any “kissing cousins” stuff going on with any of us cousins as far as I know. After all we were born and raised in Florida and that kind of stuff happened in the upper southern states anyway :) But I do remember writing Greg a note that said--- I love you....do you love me?…check yes or no….I never got it back but Aunt Diann did tell me later on in life that she found it and he had checked the yes box…be still my heart. Johnny and Greg’s last name might not have been Smith but I truly feel that the Smith gene in them was definitely the dominant gene…with no offense to their Dad, Uncle Jack. They will always be Smith boys to me….there was just something about them Smith boys…..
Jeff was a little younger than me and the preacher’s son…need I say more…always fun and always getting into trouble for something. I remember having a Sweetheart Banquet at our church, Eastside Baptist in Dover. Jeff and I had to walk out holding hands while someone sang “School Days”. I am guessing we got that part because we were the preacher’s son and niece and close in age and height…I just remember thinking that I would not have done it with anyone else but Jeff. My favorite memory is when he, Greg, and I were at Granny’s house and he and I were recording ourselves singing on my Granny’s cassette recorder. We sang “All the Gold in California” by the Gatlin Brothers and “Oh, Lord Its Hard to be Humble” by Mac Davis. I wrote out all the words so we could sing them right and loud…it was awesome. We were very careful to sing “I must be a heck of a man” instead of a hell of a man…we were not gonna have Granny getting upset with us. Many years later while gathered around my Great Grandmother, Mommer Avant’s bed to sing her Christmas carols we were deciding what to sing and Jeff says…hey, who knows All The Gold In California??? I almost lost it and could not stop laughing….nobody else got it but we did. Good times.
Our families did a lot of things together when I was young, but mostly it was Christmas Eve with Granny and July 4th which was my Granny’s birthday. Can you imagine THAT many Smiths at one time and all in the same place???…it was HEAVENLY CHAOS!!!! Each of us grandkids (12 original…some more were added later in life) got to spend weeks at a time in the summer with Granny and Grandaddy. Usually anywhere from 2 to 5 kids at a time. Granny never seemed to mind…lots of times my turn was with the boys…which I preferred.
My grandparents always lived near the water…first on the Withlacoochee River…we called it the Canal and then the Suwannee River. My favorite time of all was at Suwannee when I got to stay with Granny and Grandaddy along with Greg and Jeff. They were closest to my age and we always got along really good. I thought the sun rose and set in those boys. I loved them then…and I love them now…just don’t get to see them nearly enough.
The best thing about being with my boy cousins was that they would not let Kevin pick on me and of course I loved that. He may have been the biggest and the oldest but if they all ganged up on him…well you can imagine. And if you are thinking I am being hard on Kevin…well I am not…he was the typical mean big brother that loved to traumatize me at every chance he got. He would chase me home from the bus stop, pull the heads off my dolls, and his favorite…that spit thing where he would hold me down…let it drip out of his mouth and then suck it back up before it dropped. But he NEVER did any of that around my cousins…they would not put up with it. He has since been forgiven and we are the best of friends now…but I do still hold a grudge…its how I roll… My Grandaddy called the girls, Posies and the boys, Hotshots. I always wanted to be a Hotshot…the boys made me feel like I was…
I did not have a good childhood…I had an awesome and amazing childhood. Surrounded by the absolute best parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts. uncles, great aunts and uncles, and of course cousins. Some of the greatest times of my life were with my cousins…boys and girls…I have some treasured memories that I will forever hold in my heart. I don’t think families take the time to do those kinds of things anymore…it is sad but I am very thankful my parents made sure we did. There were even distant (meaning not first cousins…and luckily these cousins lived really close too :) cousins who we got to spend lots of fun times with…Dee & Tammy and Chuck, Brian & Gary…our family was huge and happy and fun and there are moments I just sit and remember all the good times we had together. We were so very lucky and blessed. I believe God puts people in our lives for reasons…not just friends but certainly family too. I definitely think I hit the jackpot in the cousin department of my life. God is good… all the time.
On a side note…Clay and Gina were my cousins on the Coleman side of the family. God knew I would need them both in more significant positions in my life as I got older so He turned them into Coleman/Smiths and then they became one of the best brothers and sisters a girl could ever ask for. If you are wondering exactly how that happened….well that is a whole nuther blog post… :) :)