Friday, June 5, 2009

Tomorrow is an important anniversary

On June 6, 1944, D-Day went forward as planned, World War II eventually ended, and names like Eisenhower and Churchill made their way into the history books.

On June 6, 1958, in the early afternoon, on the soap opera As The World Turns, Claire finally married Dr. Doug Cassen. Claire was the mother of Ellen Lowell who was a friend of Penny Hughes really is too complicated to explain.

I don’t remember the former event (I was only three) but I distinctly remember the latter because at seven in the evening on the same day, my dad and stepmother were married in one of the smallest churches I ever saw (Methodist, before they merged with the Evangelical United Brethren and started calling themselves United Methodists) in one of the smallest towns I ever saw (Coppell, Texas, population approximately 600). Dad was 52. Mildred was 43. I was 17. Two weeks earlier I had graduated from high school in a town 30 miles away. Two months before that my dad and stepmother had been introduced by one of her brothers-in-law who worked at the same aircraft plant as my dad. Five months before that, on October 4, 1957, the day the Russians launched Sputnik, my mother had died after an eight-year battle against cancer.

Suddenly I was no longer an only child living with a widowed father, I was the middle one of five children. Suddenly I had two new older siblings (Bob and Ed) and two new younger siblings (Patsy and Billy). Suddenly I had a new name to avoid confusion (Bob Jr.). Suddenly I was no longer two thousand miles away from any aunt, uncle, or cousin. I had four new aunts (Cleo, Margaret, Faye, and Sue) and their husbands (Romie, Fritz, Oliver, and Jack) and five new uncles (J.D., Russ Jr., Marvin, Billy, and Freddie) and their wives (Ovaline, Dorothy, Thelma, LaWanda, and Martha) and an endless supply of new cousins (Kenneth, Janice, Jerry, Jimmy Wayne, Mike, Gary, Helen, Carol, Libby, Danny, Larry, Daisy, Ray, Brenda, Connie, Cindy, Barry, Terry, Jeff, Paula, Russ, and a few I have probably left out). And even though both of my grandmothers had died before I was born and one grandfather whom I had never met died in Iowa when I was seven and my other grandfather whom I had seen only once when I was 14 lived far away in Pennsylvania, I had a brand new set of grandparents (Russ Sr. and Virginia). And every last one of these new relatives lived nearby, and they were used to getting together often. It felt a lot like this:

...only bigger. Don’t bother clicking; it’s futile.

My new ready-made family all absorbed my presence rather easily, probably, but for me it was a real culture shock at the time.

Eventually I adjusted and life went on. Sometimes my dad would call my stepmother Ruth by mistake and sometimes she would call him Clarence. My dad lived for nine years after that eventful day in June 1958. My stepmother eventually married again to a man named John and they were together for nearly thirty-five years, and I said all that to say this:

You can get used to just about anything if you put your mind to it.

Eventually I even had sisters-in-law (Linda, Judy, and Beverly) and a brother-in-law (Clyde) and lots of nieces and nephews -- Stacy, Sam, Donald Bruce, Pam, Penny (who is named, and I’m not kidding, after Penny Hughes from As the World Turns), William, and Sandra. And now there are even great-nieces and great-nephews.

But I still haven’t gotten used to being called Bob Jr.


  1. I'd rather your 'Junior' to get used to, than my 'Granny'!

  2. My goodness, rhymsie, what a multi-branched family path you were put on in life. And somehow you learned to adjust. Its made you the special person that you are.

    Thank you for continuing to visit my blog when I've been down in the doldrums.

  3. I'm sorry about the loss of your mom. That must have been hard for you to deal with as a child. It's nice that you have so many connections now.

  4. Wowsers, that is a lot to keep up with. Can't imagine trying to shop for Christmas! It must have been weird to have your dad marry again so soon after your mom's death. But I guess it could mean a large support system as well.

  5. Oops that MDW was actually me, Rosezilla. Sorry.

  6. Things happen for a reason and you were meant to have a large family.
    I always wanted a large family and it always stays small.
    But then I am a person that likes quiet.
    People can adjust to just about anything when they have to.
    You can't be an oak all your life, You are better off being a willow.

  7. I was almost 10 years old when D-Day came along, and was an avid newspaper reader and dedicated listener to the radio news. I remember it well.

    I was born into a large family. Although I had only 3 siblings, I had a slew of first cousins, Mama having been one of nine (surviving) children and nearly all of them had a bunch of kids. Mama's family reunions were definitely sleep-on-the-floor-on quilts affairs. One of my Daddy's sisters had nine children; only one other sister married, and she had three children who were already adults when I was born, so I played with their children who were of my age.

    It was hard enough having siblings and a large extended family. I cannot imagine how you coped with such a horde of new relatives having been an only child.

  8. family is what it is all about just ask any mormon or really i guess any christian

  9. or really i guess any hindu, moslem. buddist ,atheist, or even a gay couple

  10. As always, I appreciate each and every one of your comments...and I was kidding about not getting used to being called "Bob Jr."

    I rather like it.