My cousin Nancy Liddell Simpson recently posted a 1950s picture of herself, Beverlynopporn Rungruang (Beverly Russell) and me having fun coloring after my birthday party on Facebook. Since that photograph was posted, some of the cousins have been remembering those wonderful days of our idyllic youth spent in Duluth when a multitude of cousins lived nearby.
Here is an old tale that can be dusted off. I was reminded of an incident of part humor-part silliness involving the love of my cousins. As an only child I looked forward to being dropped off for play days with my cousins. These visits were the closest opportunities for me to interact with relatives of my age that loved me.
It was particularly fun to be dropped off at the home of my Aunt Virginia Liddell Russell and my uncle NH Russell. My aunt was just Gin to me and everyone called my uncle simply, Russell. My mother, Charlotte Liddell Green, was the youngest sister of Gin. It was the greatest of days when I would be deposited in the dark of morning at Aunt Gin’s for a visit. This would sometimes happen in the summer when my mother was on her way to Atlanta for work. Gin would have me crawl in bed with one of the cousins and we would sleep late and rise ready for a scrumptious breakfast and a day of play with Beverly and siblings…there were six!
Normally, I stayed with my Granny Green, Mrs. C.T. (Eunice) Green, Sr. and my aunts that lived there, Mary Lou, Jackie, and June. These ladies were sweet, but were formidable and strict with the rules enforcement. Besides, they watched their “stories” on TV and required that I be quiet. Read: regular long pallet naps, lots of meals including beans and corn bread, enforced play time and switchings when needed. Worse, there were no Russell cousins with which to play.
It wasn’t long before I began to hatch a plan for getting to stay with my Russell cousins. I plotted a rebellion from Aunt June Green’s supervision (she was just a teenager) after Duluth First Baptist VBS let out one summer day. Some of the Russell siblings just happened to be attending Vacation Bible School, as was I. I plotted to go home with the Russells. When June, admirably practicing her child management skills (a teacher even then) would have none of my plan, I resorted to dirty pool. I pulled a brat attack, sat down in the middle of the street in front of the downtown church and, crying, would not budge.
Although she may have experienced equal parts exasperation, frustration, and down-right anger, June was quick- thinking. This diplomatic teenager called my mother at work and attained permission for me to go home with the Russell cousins. The approach turned out to be a win-win, but June knew that my mama and daddy would enact a steep price. My immediate future held a hickory switching. The outcome of the Vacation Bible School Rebellion effectively ended the possibility of further baby-sitting behavior problems. June loved telling the story of my rebellion which never failed to fill me with red-faced shame and later, laughter.