When we were growing up, our cousins lived just 2 blocks away. As in most families, the kids were similar ages, but somehow I ended up with the boy cousin, rather than the girl one. I remember at times I wished otherwise, as we spent considerable time together, but in hindsight, realize I had the best deal.
Memories of the two of us sitting out on the sidewalk, playing, are some of my earliest memories. Like siblings, we had our squabbles and to defend myself, I became known as the biter, as my only means of protection, of course.
We loved to play up at the school situated in the block between ours, and his enterprising spirit was evident quite early. Bottles could be returned to the store on the corner, Moore's Grocery, and cashed in for some sweet treats. He would make us scour the entire school ground in search of enough for the great reward of a Popsicle. When our efforts would turn up enough for just one, he had Mrs. Moore break it in half so we could share.
Once we got our bikes, we were no longer confined to just the school or the sidewalk and hit the open road as the two young rebels we were sure we were. We rode fast and hard on our stingrays and went up and down every street in the neighborhood. The whole world seemed to ours or it was until our moms found out we were also cruising the alleys and shut that down. My daughters think it is funny that I still won't go down an alley, but that is the rule!
We started elementary school together and had the same teachers and classes for years.
This had an unexpected benefit for me, I had my own personal bodyguard, since I had given up biting as my means of protection! I remember a confrontation with a classmate that ended when my bodyguard stepped in and threatened to take down anyone who tried to hurt me. This lasted through junior high and when Charles Baker wrote our names together on a desk, again my bodyguard stepped in and made it very clear that I did not want my name associated with his on a desk or any other surface.
We went to different high schools though and I guess I was forced to learn to fend for myself. From there our paths have very different roads to say the least. But he still assumed the role of bodyguard, only this time for a much bigger group through his service in the Air Force.
And even though I am two weeks older than him, he has now retired, which has brought him back to our neck of the woods.
Today is his birthday and while I don't seem to have a great picture of us being snotty nosed brats like he did for mine, I still wanted to make sure he knew I appreciated his part in my life and wish him a happy birthday!
Happy Birthday, Dub!