Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Whole Shootin' Kaboodle

Today* is sister Nancy's 60th birthday, 13 months my junior. Remember my post about the "step-sisters?" I knew there was a photo of the whole tribe--all 8 of us kids--but I couldn't find it anywhere. Guess what! It was at the cottage in Michigan. So, here we are, as of March, 1962 (when I was a junior in high school):

(r to l) Nelson, Susan, Boots (moi), Nancy, Bennett, Jim, John & Ruth

Now it's time to introduce you to the "step-brothers:"

Nelson Hodges was born on January 14, 1942, and is 64. He really is our patriarch, now that Dad and Mom are both gone. Dad called him "Funny Sonny." He actually has a triple doctorate and is also an ordained Presbyterian minister. But his "calling" is kitchen design. It's what he does and does well. To the rest of us kids, however, he's the go-to person for any questions we have about almost anything. And so humble and unassuming. He and wife Peggy live in Holland, MI. Their gay son lives in Sydney, Australia, with his partner of many years. Their adopted daughter lives with her husband in Kalamazoo, MI.

Bennett Williams was born on June 28, 1948, and lived till he was 47. A heart attack took his life, as we knew it, in February, 1996. Dad called him "On the Minute Bennett." No wife. No children. He was our Bohemian, Renaissance Man. His love was photography, which he taught at Lansing Community College in Michigan. He also loved astronomy (had his own huge telescope) and especially liked driving all the back roads he could find to anywhere. I like to think he's still doing the same! (We miss you, Bennett!)

James Thomas was born on November 28, 1949, and is 57. Dad called him "Slim Jim." He and his wife, Wilma (of Dutch descent!), also live in Holland, MI, and have 4 grown, married children with a total of 8 grandchildren. He's a salesman for a top insurance company that caters to the senior-citizen, Medicare crowd. He says his job is heaven for him. He loves it! He has been a youth pastor in a past life (as is his son Nate) and has sung all his life. Sweet, sweet voice!

John Stephen was born on September 19, 1952, and is 53. Dad called him "My Son John." By definition, he's a Correction Officer where he works at the Charles E. Egeler Reception and Guidance Center (RGC) in Jackson, MI. But in actuality, he's a 'no-nonsense' prison guard in the library area of the campus. And the stories he can tell! He and wife Sandy have 2 of their own children, plus her two, and 3 others from 2 former marriages, one of whom (Rachel) often comments here. 3 grandchildren (I think). He is presently blossoming in a new singing 'career' that is taking off like gang-busters, Merle Haggard style (deep, deep voice), with a CD coming out this fall, we hope. Everytime I hear him, I get tears in my eyes, his voice reaching deep into my soul.

There you have it. The Gang. The tribe. The Clan. The whole shootin' kaboodle!

(* Today also commemorates Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon, 37 years ago (1969). It was a couple months before Bill and I married, and I can still remember watching it on TV in Mom and Dad's living room. Do YOU remember that day?)


  1. Nice to meet the family again with bonus members! :) My own family is small and scattered so it gives me great pleasure to see one so large and close-knit.

    On July 20th, 1969 I was a year and two months old so I don't really remember the moon landing. I've noticed it doesn't lose it's power to mesmerize when they show it on television, though, even today. What an exciting time to be alive.

  2. LOL - nope don't remember that day 37 years ago, sorry I doubt I was even a thought yet...

    But that is such a great story. I love it. What still hits me is that I have one younger brother and of course we don't have kids. I'm sure my parents are getting anxious for those grandkids but alas, it will be in due time...

  3. Lisa: We are definitely a large family by today's standards. Of course, we didn't know any different growing up but now we realize what a treasure we have!

    ET: I was waiting for someone like you to LOL! :)

    I have only 2 kids and 1 g'kid and wonder how they view such a large family. Lots of cousins on 2 generation levels now!

  4. Well, I love these photos, and your tribute to 4 great uncles!

    A very happy birthday to Aunt Nancy (and Jim's grandson, Josh!).

    1969-I was about to turn 3. ;)

  5. So nice to meet the boys, too. You seem to have quite a musically talented family there! As for Armstrong, I feel I have flashbacks, but maybe it's just the media showing picts afterwards. I was 3 years 9 months old, but I'm sure I was told to "hush" while my parents watched.

  6. Great post of our brothers! Thank you for taking such care and time to describe each one. :)

  7. Mrs. M/Shari: Yup, 4 great uncles. I forgot about Josh's b-day also being today! How old is he by now?

    CS: Yes, LOTS of musical talent in the Hart family. We make quite a choir :)

    I love your memory. I'm guessing we were all hushed during that moment! It was so hard to fathom...and still is, if you ask me. Like we often say, "We can send a man to the moon but we can't [fill in the blank]!"

    Ruth: HEY! Welcome from Ireland! It's LATE for you right now. Oh my.

    But yes, gotta take care of our Bros!

  8. Awwwwwww...lookit little Ruth. I know this post isn't about her, but still... ;)

  9. Jeff: Why did I not know I'd find you here on this post! There's just something about that little Ruthie, isn't there :)

    BTW, I've been trying to leave a comment on your blog but my dial-up is not letting me. I'm planning to plagarize one of your posts (you'll know it when you see it!) and once we have DSL (Monday or Tuesday, we hope), I'll comment. Thanks for stopping by AND commenting :)

  10. Gee, Ginnie hope you get off dial up when promised- what a pain.

    What a great family you have. Mine is large but we seem to have lost our camraderie. Glad to know some families stay intact.

    I constantly remind my girls that I hope they'll be friends for life.

    I do remember the moonwalk. I was in second or third grade and we were allowed to watch it on tv in the classroom. Big event!

    Thanks for sharing your personal history. I read about your bro Bennett's death earlier on your blog. It struck me then and it strikes me now. So sorry for your loss. Hope he's enjoying moonlit drives down country roads.

  11. It's a big family and a lot of people to play with and have fun! I got only one brother and one sister. They were years younger.

  12. Jozee: Thank you for all your kind words. Yes, I know we're a lucky family to still be so in tact!

    Mei: We used to laugh about being our own baseball or whatever team. We did enjoy playing outside together. Inside, too, actually :)