Stumbling Around

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cousins

In a recent column, I wrote about my grandmother Celestine nee Stevens and how she had left Ponchatoula for the “big city” and then returned to be buried in Sand Hill Cemetery. In that column, I wrote about how my parents would brave the old Manchac highway several times a year driving from New Orleans to Ponchatoula to visit relatives near French Corner. Imagine my surprise when I received a call from 89-year-old Anna Hoover, the wife of my father’s cousin Joe Hoover, now deceased, one of the very people we used to visit.

I arranged to visit with her and was joined by Gene Stevens, the son of Pete Stevens, one of my grandmother’s brothers, and the former Olivia Brown. People with Tibadeaux Road will know their home. It was the one with the airplane in the front yard a few years ago. The airplane was destroyed by Katrina, I think. Gene is my father’s cousin and is, therefore, my second cousin. He was quite familiar with me from old family stories although he couldn’t remember me – nor I him. As best we can figure out, the last time we saw each other was about 63 years ago.

Gene was born four days before I was so we were babies together.. Anna and Joe baby-sat him often in his infancy. When my parents came to visit after I was born, they would frequently spend the week-end and put me in a playpen with Gene. As babies do, we would get into fights over toys and things. Anna told me that my mother was very protective. As long as I was getting the best of Gene, my mother wouldn’t interfere, but, if he was getting the best of me, she would take me out of the playpen.

Since I had mentioned the Sand Hill Cemetery in my column (which Gene carries around in his wallet), Gene wanted to show me where his mother is buried. We went to the cemetery and found her grave. Imagine our surprise when we realized that her grave is in the next row and is right new next to my grandmother’s grave (about two feet apart).

Gene came to visit me today. Imagine his delight when I showed him a picture of my grandmother on the wall. He said that he had heard about her his entire life, but this was the first picture of her he had ever seen.

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