Bowling with Beula

Since Pops was an only child and we were raised near his family the only aunts and uncles I saw regularly were Grandma and Grandpa’s siblings. My life was filled with great aunts and uncles whose kids were grown, it was more like having auxiliary grandparents. Most of Grandma’s siblings lived in either California or Las Vegas. Grandma had 7 siblings. Her mom had three sets of twins and poor Grandma was a single in the middle of the pack. When she moved to Vegas her oldest sister Muriel, and her younger brother Newt, along with her baby sister Beula eventually joined her.

All the Cox siblings except Muriel worked at Safeway at one time, Minnie is on the far right. Newt is 5th from the left. Beula must have missed picture day.

By the time I came along Newt had moved to Northern California. Muriel was a bit of a recluse. Beula and Grandma were close, even so they seemed to had a ridiculous sibling rivalry. If Grandma and Grandpa bought a new Chevy, Beula and her husband Tommy would buy a Caddy. Grandma and Grandpa were homebodies and were bored with casinos. Beula and Tommy liked to gamble, they spent most evenings at the Showboat Hotel and Casino. They always talked about how they were comped meals. They made it sound like they always came out ahead, but everyone in Vegas who is honest with themselves knows that the house always wins in the long term.

Tommy and Beula’s home away from home.

Beula had a huge personality. She smoked with a long cigarette holder and had a house full of fun and interesting collections. I loved going over there. She would let me play with her lighter collection and I would spend hours sorting through them – there were hundreds stored in dozens of round tins. She talked tough, but you could get her to do just about anything for you if you just called her “Aunty Boo Boo”.

All of us in Beula’s kitchen in 1962 – I’m the baby by the right wall. Beula is front and center holding some other kid.

When I was very small I came down with German Measles while my mom was pregnant. The doctor had told my parents that I needed to be away from Mom until I was no longer contagious and I think she went through some special treatment to prevent her from getting sick. I stayed with Beula during this time. I was confused, sick, and away from my mom. No one explained why I was away. I remember very little except that I felt a longing for my own home and for my mommy.

Aunty Boo Boo and Unca Tommy

As the time for the baby to come got closer the plan was for Grandma and Grandpa to get Mom to the hospital if Pops was at work. Pops would join them as soon as he could. Beula would take care of me for a couple of days. This would be a fun few days – much better than the quarantine visit.

To be honest I was kind of oblivious to things like pregnancy. I hadn’t been told anything about mom being pregnant or even what that meant. Mom lost a baby between Max and I so she may have been unable to talk to me about it. It could also be that Mom was the youngest child of a mom who was sick her whole life. Maybe her mom didn’t have the opportunity to share things with her. Mom kept a lot to herself, plus she was young, only 19 when I was born. She had been pregnant 4 times by the time she was 24.

Captain Oblivious. I somehow did not notice that my mom was pregnant. 

One day Beula picked me up in the mid afternoon and we met Tommy at the Showboat. We went directly to the bowling alley. I had never been bowling, I was only about 3 years old, but I remember Beula and Tommy changing their shoes and her helping me to roll a ball. It was fun. After some eating out, bowling, sleeping, and more of the same over the next few days I went home to discover that there was a tiny baby at our house. I was thrilled. I had a real live baby doll named Max to play with.

Sadly iced tea and Polaroids don’t mix. Even so this is one of my favorite photos of me and my first brother.

Two years later it was both Max and I who Beula picked up. Again, we left the house and went bowling. By now I was about 5 and was really getting the hang of the process. Not the math, of course, but the idea of trying to hit the pins by rolling a ball. After we bowled we ate at the coffee shop, everyone there knew Beula and they brought me an ice-cream sundae after dinner. Then we bowled some more. We spent a few days with Beula and Tommy bowling and eating. Again I returned home to a brand new baby brother, this time his name was Ronnie.

Beula and my Grandma dressed up for Eastern Star. No my Grandma was not a confederate. In the 60’s Nevadans referred to  Las Vegas and the University as “Southern” – our mascot was the “Running Rebels”. 

Like I said, I was pretty oblivious to all the pregnancy stuff. I really have no recollection of my mom being pregnant. So about a year later Beula gave me a call. She asked if I would like to go bowling with her and Tommy. I stopped short and put two and two together. Every single time I went bowling with Beula I came home to a baby brother! That MUST be where baby boys come from. I mean bowling was fun and all, but was it really worth it for an evening of fun? I answered Beula curtly, “No thanks, I’ve got enough trouble already!”

Wanna go bowling? Babies are fun!

I had no idea where baby girls came from.

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Bowling with Beula

  1. Reblogged this on the eff stop and commented:

    I miss you Aunty Boo Boo – you taught me some of life’s most important lessons, like that cigarette lighters are good for keeping toddlers occupied. Seriously – you put the “Great” in Great Aunt!

  2. I’m sitting in a very quiet doctor’s office lobby trying desperately not to giggle out loud! I love the way you tell stories, and that you’re taking the time to share these beautiful memories!
    My sister and I both came down with Chicken Pox right before my brother was born. We weren’t sent away, just stuck in bed for a while. Then we had to wear winter coats to the hospital (in June) to hide the pox so we could peer through the glass and see him in the nursery.

    • Thanks Jenna! I don’t think I was ever taken to the hospital to see the boys. I know that those stinking measles were a pain in my butt for years. Every time I started school I would be singled out because I didn’t have the shots on my record. Mom would call the school and tell them I didn’t need the vaccination since I had the actual measles. In the end she would give up and I would get inoculated. This happened every year until high school.

    • So true – I think that sometimes kids see things and try to find the connections – make sense of things. I was pretty literal as a kid. I was always trying to make things add up.

  3. Oh my gosh! I had forgotten about the cigarette holder!! I remember the first time I went to her house. I had never seen furniture like that before. I was amazed that an adult, a peer of my Mother and Father, no less, would have a blue fur lounge chair. I thought is was the coolest thing. She never took me bowling, but she took me to the Showboat. A lot. For strawberry shortcake. I wish I’d spent more time with her. I drew her a picture once and she had it laminated. Before people really did that… I loved her.

    • I wish I had a photo of that fur chaise lounge – were you ever in her North Las Vegas House? I ate strawberry shortcake there with her as well – your dad took me there too sometimes. The plates in the photo of her kitchen were made by Randa:) She was a peach.

Say something already!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s