I've commented before about how close we were to our first cousins. My sister, Betty, cousin Janet and I were the three musketeers. If we were a sandwich, Betty and I were the bread and Jan was the filling. Her birthday, October 23, was exactly one month after Betty's, September 23, and almost four weeks before mine, November 18. She was also in the middle of our birth years - mine, 1943, hers, 1944, and Betty's, 1945.
Our neighbor, Albert ('Shorty') Reichardt, took this picture of us one summer after we rode old Queenie down to his place. How did that poor old horse carry us all?
Oh, did we have some good times growing up! Obviously we were playing dress-up on this occasion. Standing on the west side of our house, left to right, me (in the coveted black hat), Lila, and Glenna (with her broken arm). Sitting - Janet, the gypsy, baby Mary Lou and Betty, the cowgirl. We all wanted to wear hats, but Mom wasn't a hat person. I think we took turns having our picture taken wearing her fancy black chapeau. I know Glenna remembers this day because she asked me not long ago where my Mom got the hat.
This professional photo of the Roberts cousins was taken in 1949 or '50. Left to right, Larry Joe, Lila May, Glenna Lee, Janet Kay, Glen Edward and Mary Lou squeezed in front. I remember Mom taking care of Mary Lou one time when she was little. After Aunt Evelyn picked her up and left, Mom proclaimed she was a little spoiled brat.
This photo of the family was taken at our place in 1957 when we hosted the Ridnour Cousins Reunion. Left to right: Glen, Janet, Uncle Howard, Lila, Glenna, Larry, Mary Lou, and Aunt Evelyn.
I know from reading the diaries I kept from 1957 to 196o, that Jan stayed with Betty and me fairly often. She would ride the school bus home with us and spend the night. And Janet is the cousin I wrote about going to Illinois with me and Grandpa and Grandma in 'The Illinois Connection'.
Once we graduated from high school, we went our separate ways. Janet met her husband, Bob Gray, while working in Red Oak. He was a career Navy man so they traveled around some before settling in Des Moines. Their firstborn, William, was a little younger than Preston. I remember keeping him for a day when he was a baby so Jan and Bob could attend the State Fair. They also had a daughter, Lana.
Many years later, I became better acquainted with Bill when he and I both worked as Building Facilitators for the West Des Moines School District. With Lana, too, when she worked as a teller where I banked.
Janet is retired now. She became a widow when Bob died in 2006. We still don't see each other very often, but when we do, she's the same old fun loving girl I knew from our youth.
Happy 66th birthday, Jan!