Tag Archives: Cousins

Memory Lane Road Trip Part 8

22 Aug

A Slice of Life
Bill Lites


Day 8 – Tuesday 4/24/2018


After a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, a biscuit and gravy, with Gerry and her husband, George, and Delois, there at the retirement center, I headed over to Grand Prairie, TX to visit my other cousin, Milton, and his wife Nannette.  This turned out to be a great time, reminiscing about our childhood experiences, when our family visited their family at our grandmother’s house in central Louisiana near Many, Louisiana.



Milton had to get ready for a class he teaches there at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, so I headed for Fort Worth to visit the Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame.  This is an impressive building, filled with memorabilia and old photographs related to the history of some 200+ women of the American West who have been known by, and are honored for, their pioneering fortitude and extraordinary courage.



As I was leaving the Fort Worth area, I stopped to take a photo of the entrance to the Fort Worth Stock Yards.  This brought back fond memories of a Lites family reunion trip DiVoran and I made to this area in 2000.  One of the most fun things we did on that trip was a visit to the Fort Worth Stock Yards, strolling thru all the shops, the stock yards, and watching (up close and personal) the longhorn cattle drive down East Exchange Avenue.



On the corner of North Main Street, where I parked to take the above photo, was the famous Cattlemen’s Steak House.  I would have popped in for lunch, but they weren’t open yet.  The sidewalks in the Stock Yards area feature the “Texas Trail of Fame” stars.  The stars honor many of the individuals who have, over the years, made a significant contribution to the Western way of life.



Next I headed northwest on US-287 to check out the Texas Aircraft Restorations and Fox Aviation, both allegedly  located in Rhome, TX just to see what they might be working on.  The Internet address I was using turned out to be a private home.  Even though the very nice man was a pilot, and was in the middle of building a hanger for his airplane, he said he didn’t know anything about either of the outfits I was looking for.  He did, however, refer me to the Hicks Airfield, which was not far from there, located just west of Haslet, TX.  When I got there, no one at the airport or the airport cafe knew anything about either one of these organizations.  Oh well, I’ll just have to chalk these two up to “No Shows.”



Wanting to get back to Arlington in time for a 5:00 supper with my cousins, I headed back southeast on SR-114/SR-121, thru Roanoke and Southlake, to try and miss some of the afternoon traffic on the Interstates around Fort Worth.  Supper at the Retirement Center was delicious, and the four of us had a wonderful time reminiscing, that carried on after supper, in George and Gerry’s apartment for hours.  I finally said, “Goodnight” to them and retired to my guest room for a good night’s sleep.




—–To Be Continued—–




Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

I Remember…Cousins, Mother’s Side-Part 3

10 Jun


Judy Wills




Uncle Frank didn’t like to have his picture taken. We only have a few pictures of him. After Mother and Jessie died, and Bill gave me all the family pictures, I began scanning them into the computer. Jessie had a bunch of slides, and they were scanned as well.  When I told Pat about that, he requested copies of any pictures I had with Frank in them.  And I have done so.  Here are a couple of them.


1959 – Uncle Frank and Aunt Lillie – San Antonio, Texas


1959 – Uncle Frank, Aunt Lillie, my Granny – San Antonio, Texas


1959 – Uncle Frank – San Antonio, Texas



At least he’s smiling in this one.


An amusing story about that family came up when we were staying with Aunt Lillie in 1974.  You see, back in the 1940’s, Jessie owned a small diner in downtown San Antonio, Texas.  (Please see my post of November 17, 2013 –My Aunt Jessie – Part 1)


San Antonio, Texas – Jessie’s little diner


Granny made some delicious pies for that diner that were a hit with anyone who ate a slice.  My favorite – to this day – was her chocolate cream pie (we just called it Granny’s Chocolate Pie). Yummmmmmmm!  Lillie loved it, as well, and made it often for her family.  She told me that one time she had made the pie, and it looked so good that she ate a slice.  Then she wanted another slice and ate it.  Then she realized that her boys would know that she had eaten so much of it, so she ate THE ENTIRE REST OF THE PIE!  And made a second pie for the family.  When I told Pat this story in 2001, he said “I didn’t know that.”  I said:  “she didn’t want you to know!”

One more thing about Aunt Lillie – she was a great cook!  As a matter of fact, she was a cook at an elementary school near her house.  When we were staying with her in 1971, she saw that we ate a Sara Lee Coffee Cake nearly every morning.  When she noticed that we were discarding the foil containers the coffee cake came in, she asked if we would save them for her.  Seems that road workers would come into the school and purchase a lunch from them, because the food was so good, but she had nothing to put the food in.  So our little foil containers were just what she needed.

For a time, Pat and his wife, Lee, lived in Albuquerque.  Actually in Rio Rancho, just outside the main city of Albuquerque, on the west mesa. On one of our visits there, Fred and I agreed to meet them at La Placita Mexican Restaurant in Old Town Albuquerque. Later, Pat said that, when they moved back to Texas, he could see Lee’s fingernail grooves in the road all the way! She really loved New Mexico and didn’t want to return to Texas.

Back in 2001 when Pat and Jimmie came to visit, they stayed with us for a few days.  We met up with Bill, DiVoran, and their family in Titusville for dinner one evening.  Bill agreed to escort them to Kennedy Space Center the next day, and the boys were excited by that prospect.  They went with Bill to KSC on September 10, 2001.  When 9-11 happened, I remember thinking, “WOW!  If they had been one day later, they wouldn’t have been able to get onto KSC, as everything was closed after the terrorist attack!”  I’m glad they were able to have a good day there.

Fred and I were able to meet up with Pat, Lee, and Gary last year on our road trip.  Here is a picture of them at the table at the BBQ place where we ate.


Cousin Gary, Lee – Pat’s wife, Cousin Pat


And on a recent trip, Bill was able to meet up with Pat and Lee for a meal.  He hadn’t seen them since that 2001 visit, when Jimmie was with Pat.

Family is always important, and these cousins have meant a great deal to my family.  I’m glad we have been able to stay connected all these years.


I thank my God every time I remember you

Philippians 1:3


1989 – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Stepfather Sid, Cousin Pat, Aunt Jessie, Mother




~~~~~~~~~~The End~~~~~~~~~

I Remember… Cousins, Mother’s Side-Part 2

3 Jun


Judy Wills




 We always made the time to go see my cousin’s family when we went to San Antonio for a visit.  I always thought their little house was an interesting house.  Turns out that it was actually hand-made – quite literally – by Lillie’s husband, Frank.  I think they added onto it as each son was born.  Aunt Jessie and Granny lived in San Antonio until about 1952, when they moved to Albuquerque.  We didn’t make as many trips to Texas after they moved to Albuquerque, so didn’t see the cousins as often.  I just remember how much fun we had playing together.

Here are a couple of pictures from 1944.  That’s me with my cousin Gary in Granny’s backyard in San Antonio.





And here’s one of Bill and Jimmie Mac in San Antonio.




Here’s one of the three sisters.


Granny, Lillie, Loa


I think it’s in front of Lillie’s house in San Antonio in 1950.

When Fred was stationed in San Antonio 1971-1974, we stayed with Aunt Lillie until we found a house.  Janet called her “Aunt Willie.”  Here’s a picture of Lillie and our girls.



Pat and his wife were living in the area, and we were able to see them frequently. We didn’t see much of Jimmie or Gary.

However, I remember one Christmas while we were there.  Aunt Lillie had invited our family to join hers at her house for Christmas Day, and so we went there.  Our Karen was probably six years old, and Janet was just a little thing – probably around 2½ years old.  All three boys were there, as well.  We had the traditional Christmas of opening packages, and the Christmas dinner.  While we were cleaning up from the meal, Janet was quite interested in the ornaments on the tree, and began examining them. Unfortunately, that meant pulling at them, trying to get them off the tree and into her hand.  I realized, just too late, what she was doing, when….down came the tree – ornaments and all!!  Fortunately, it didn’t land on anyone!  The boys came in from the kitchen and said, “well, I guess it’s time to take down the tree!”  We all pitched in and took off the ornaments and Christmas decorations and they hauled the tree outside.  I felt rather bad about it, but they assured me it was okay.


And I really want to tell you about the boy’s father, our Uncle Frank.  There are a couple of things that we’ve chuckled about through the years:


  1. For some reason, Frank decided that he was going to die when he was 40 years old. When he didn’t die at age 40, it made him mad….and he was mad for 30 more years.   He died in 1968 at age 70!


  1. We had a saying around our house – “I had one of Uncle Frank’s days today.”  And everyone would laugh.  It took a while for Mother and Aunt Jessie to explain that expression to me.  You see, he would come home from work (I never knew just what his work was), and proclaim that “well, I had a h***uvaday today, just a h***uvaday!”  So, even now, when we have a difficult day, we look at each other and say, “I had one of Uncle Frank’s days today” and know just what we mean.  It’s been a source of laughter in our family for quite a while.  I’ve told many friends about it, and they enjoy it, as well…and usually say it back to us!


~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~


I Remember…. Cousins, Mother’s Side~Part 1

27 May


Judy Wills



I suppose most of us have a lot of cousins. I certainly do, as my Dad was one of 13 children!  Unfortunately, most of them I don’t know or don’t remember, not having contact with them for many years, not having lived near any of them.  But I’ll write about them another time.

In this post, I want to mention my cousins on my Mother’s side.  Mother was one of only two siblings in her family, and her sister, my Aunt Jessie, never married, so there are no first cousins there.

However, there are some second cousins that are very close to me.  You see, my Grandmother was the oldest of three girls in her family.


1953 – Albuquerque, New Mexico – Lillie, Granny, Loa


There was an older brother, Harry, who died six months after my Granny was born.


This is a tin-type picture, possibly of Harry, Granny’s brother


Granny was born in 1892, her sister, Loa, was born in 1898, and the youngest sister, Lillie, was born in 1903.  Since my Aunt Jessie was born in 1910, and my Mother in 1913, that meant that Lillie was only seven years older than Jessie, and just 10 years older than Mother.  I remember Mother telling me once that she, Jessie, and Lillie grew up more like sisters, rather than Aunt and nieces.  There was a special bond among the three of them.

When Lillie married and had her sons (three of them), the boys became favorite cousins.  Jimmie Mac was just a year older than my brother, Bill.  Gary, the middle son, was very near my age, and Pat, the youngest, was the favorite of all of us.  In Jessie’s later years, she would go to Texas and spend Thanksgiving with the three boys and their families.  When my Mother died, Pat was one of the first ones I called with the news. He was devastated.

I’ve kept fairly close contact with Pat through the years.  Jimmie, being the oldest, just wasn’t in my sphere of familiarity.  However, when Pat and Jimmie came for a short visit back in 2001, it was a fun time.  You see, those two boys had gone to a cooking school in Tuscany, Italy,  a short time before.  I remember Pat saying that he just didn’t know Jimmie that well, and wanted to know him better.  I remember asking Pat why they went to Tuscany to cooking school, rather than France. He huffed out a breath and said, “huh! The French couldn’t boil water until the Italians taught them how!”  We both howled with laughter.


1953 – Albuquerque, New Mexico – Lillie, Granny, Loa

We had a great time reminiscing about times past. I remembered one visit to San Antonio, and we were at their house.  One of the boys had an accordion.  I was rather young, but had been taking piano lessons for many years, so I picked up that instrument and began playing on it.  Of course, I had no clue what the “buttons” were for, but I did know the keyboard.  I just remember Pat’s mouth hanging open, watching me play it – without ever having played it before!  They had struggled to learn to play it.

~~~~~~~~~~To Be Continued~~~~~~~~~~



Fall, Family and Margaritaville

3 Nov

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

After the drama of Hurricane Matthew, we were more than ready to return to our home in the North Carolina mountains. I had my heart set on being able to spend some time enjoying the Fall color and cooler temperatures. We set off on our return trip October 12 and quickly ran into a rain shower. Fortunately, it was brief and we were blessed with a double rainbow just before we drove up the interstate entrance ramp.


We arrived at our home in the early evening and I was delighted to see the trees were still clothed in vibrant colors.

The following weekend, my cousin Delores, and her mom drove over from Raleigh to spend a week with us. They arrived in time for the annual Pumpkin Fest. It is a fun time with lots of food, crafts and of course, the pumpkin roll. The participants in the contest take it seriously, after all, the grand prize is $100.00! There was a large crowd milling around watching and awaiting their turn.

Fall in Florida consists of slightly cooler days but there are no changing leaves and definitely not the fun of all festivals. If one was inclined, I think they could attend a Fall festival every  weekend.

My cousin’s birthday occurred while she was visiting and we decided to make it a special day. We began the day with a drive on Highway 28 and once we were past Bryson City the Fall color was gorgeous, especially near Fontana Dam. I am sure the low sunlight and low hanging clouds added to the “pop” of the color.

Just north of Fontana, Highway 28 meets up with US Highway 129 and becomes the world-famous “Tail of the Dragon”.  With over 300 curves in 11 miles, daredevils on bikes and sports car drivers love the thrill and danger. Fortunately or unfortunately, we weren’t driving either, but it was still a fun ride and my cousin enjoyed taming the dragon and she has the tee-shirt to prove it!


After the Dragon, we continued up 129 to the Foothills Parkway and eventually ended up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It was time for some retail therapy! After all, we were celebrating a birthday. We didn’t visit a single shoe store but we did score some great finds in the Corning Revere outlet. The one in the Red Roof mall has a section that has some serious discounts due to it being a returns center. While my husband was in a tool store, I placed a call to Paula Deen’s restaurant located on “The Island” and had our names put on the dinner list.  The Island is a newly renovated entertainment area complete with an Eye-like ride called the Smoky Mountain Wheel, Margaritaville and several other dining venues. If you enjoy Southern style food, I think you will like Paula Deen’s restaurant. I sure did!

My cousin and her mom

My cousin and her mom


As we left the restaurant, I wanted to explore more of the Island’s shops and entertainment, but it had been a long day and we faced a two hour drive over through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park ahead of us, so we boarded the tram for the parking lot. I know I want to visit it again and Rebekah has a birthday coming up in December. I need to find a Groupon or discount for the Margaritaville Hotel!

Kitchen Table Hierarchy

7 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

Three Christmas celebrations and one birthday just about left me partied out. I did have enjoy  making some new snacks and eating them, of course. Then, just as I thought my party schedule was blank, we decided to attend a post-Christmas family party in eastern North Carolina. ( We had barely arrived in Florida from our home in western North Carolina)

 Christmas in Florida was depressingly warm at eighty-six degrees, and I do dislike heat, so I am sure the chance to escape to some cooler temps factored in our decision.

We had dinner at one of the local restaurants then headed to our uncles house for some serious gabbing. We are a talking bunch of people when we get together. My mother was one of twelve children. That means I have a lot of cousins.

When my mom and most of her other siblings were alive, they congregated around a kitchen table teasing and laughing while my generation spread out, chasing our children or catching up with everyone. This past Fall, I noticed that it was my generation now hanging out at the table. We have ascended a step on the ladder of life.

As a rule we don’t designate first cousin, second cousin etc. We are cousins…period, but for picture purposes, we tried to separate the cousins into first, second etc. The picture is of  second cousins, although there is a first cousin in there, but she fits in better with the “youngsters.” (There are a LOT more cousins, but they were not able to attend)


I am so proud of each one of these cousins and love them dearly. One day they will be the ones sitting at the table while their children race around keeping up with the kids. When the time comes for my generation to ascend the final step of life’s ladder, I know the family will be in good hands.

This is one of the songs my mom and dad loved to sing. Many of the artists in this video are gone now.

Success and Burdens

22 Oct

On the Porch
Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

We were blessed to have a visit from my aunt and cousin recently. We did a whole lot of eating and a whole lot of talking. One evening we even went to the performing arts center to see Jeanne Robertson. She is one of my favorite comediennes and all of her material is clean and funny. I first saw her at a Women of Faith conference and have watched many of her clips on You Tube. If you have the chance, catch her tour. I know she will be in Florida in April. This is a clip of my favorite story.

On Monday my cousin and I went on a final jaunt around town. We did a little shopping, ate some Chinese food and scoped out the new location of a doctor’s office. Of course we got a bit turned around and that was a good thing. There is this mystery store in town that I have been looking for. I call it a mystery because I had heard about it but could not remember where it was located. As we wandered around, my cousin pointed to a store and asked what kind of store is that? I looked and yelled, I want to go there! She whipped the car around in the middle of the street and right into a parking place. I was impressed. It takes my husband a little longer to react, which is why I haven’t made it into the store. We walked across the street only to discover the shop was not open any longer…BUT it was still an operational facility AND the owner offered us a tour. (Yea!) The business is Appalachian Harvest  according to their website:

“Owners, Kim and Kevin Baldwin, founded Appalachian Harvest in 1998. “Our gourmet condiments are still made in small batches, hand stirred and hand poured, just like grandma made”. No artificial colors or preservatives are used, letting the natural flavors come through. Appalachian Harvest adds a unique ingredient to all of their products, love!

These products have been featured in Taste of the South magazine, and were used for catering the 2005 Superbowl in Detroit, Michigan. Appalachian Harvest adds a unique ingredient to all of their products, love! “

The kitchen set up reminded me of my grandmother’s and that is probably why I am drawn to what I call “working kitchens.” Big pots attract me like a bear to a picnic cooler in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I want to see what is inside and sneak a taste. Kevin, who gave us the tour offered us a jar of their Hot Pepper Jelly with Cherries so I didn’t have to push down my urge to go all bear on him.

Pour pepper jelly over a bar of cream cheese to make a delicious and easy party treat.

Pour pepper jelly over a bar of cream cheese to make a delicious and easy party treat.

The best part of the tour was hearing their success story. Their newest client, William-Sonoma will be selling Appalachian Harvest Cherry Pie Filing this year. That is big for a husband and wife run company.  The quart jar we were shown was a thing of red cherry  beauty and the ingredient list showed basic ingredients, just like you use if you canned it yourself.

Here is my final thought for this week. Do you ever feel like things are falling apart around you and you need to prop them up? I do. I like to be a fixer, and then I become stressed when I can’t fix a problem. I am taking up a burden God does not ask me to carry. He wants to carry them for me!

I love this song from my childhood. When I hear the song in my mind, I am taken to a happy place and hear my parents voices singing it.

Come Unto Me

Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,
“Oh, ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”

  • Refrain:
    Come unto Me, I will give you rest;
    Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;
    I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;
    Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light
  • Are you disappointed, wand’ring here and there,
    Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care?
    Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast?
    Bring your case to Jesus—He will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

Busy,Fun and Throw Back Thursday

7 Aug

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I'm a winner

Onisha Ellis

This past week was fun and busy. My aunt and cousin came to visit. We ate a lot of food and especially dessert! My aunt is a great cook and I try to learn something from her whenever we are together. My cousin is a talented crafter. I shamelessly took advantage of her to get some bows made for Christmas. In addition, she learned how to make those ruffled scarves that are so popular and she made two of them for me. Don’t tell Rebekah, but they are for her.

photo photo 1

The last Sunday they were with us, I suggested a Sunday afternoon drive. Does anyone remember doing that back in the 1950’s? We had a delicious buffet lunch in Franklin at The Boiler Room, then loaded up in Mike’s truck and headed for the hills.

We decided to take one of our favorite quiet drives, Balsam Mountain road off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a one-way drive through natural forest. It does not have spectacular vistas but it is perfect if you want the whole woods experience without snakes and bugs. Just before the entrance to the drive is a fantastic picnic area. Fantastic if you like a quiet picnic in what looks like an enchanted forest. The tables are big stones set on stones with logs for benches. We loved it. Next we left the picnic area and began the drive.

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Time to wrap up this post. We are going to a picnic tonight by the creek of someone at church. Since today is Throw Back Thursday I will add  that  thirty or so years ago, I was busy with another creek bank. My friend Sharon and i worked with the children in our church on a musical, “Down by the Creek Bank” My favorite line from the play is “aren’t the stars pretty?”. I’m not sure I can stay awake long enough to view the stars tonight!

Hey Cuz

23 Feb


 Judy Wills

Judy Wills


As I’ve said before, my Father was one of 13 children.  So there were lots and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins.  Whenever we would head to Louisiana for a summer visit, we would “disperse” – my parents would stay in Grandmother’s house, my brother stayed with one boy cousin, and I would stay with a girl cousin.  Lots of fun memories with those outings.

One of those cousins, Milton, is the one my brother stayed with most of the time.  They were fairly close in age, and just seemed to hit it off.  I’m sure Bill could tell of some great times they had together.

Cousin Milton

Cousin Milton

So it was a bit surprising to find Milton and his wife at the seminary, when Fred and I landed there for Fred’s study.  While not terribly close – he was several years ahead of Fred – we still managed to get together with them a few times. Time went on – many years, in fact.  We knew that Milton and his wife had gone to the mission field as “music missionaries” to Taiwan.

And then we found ourselves in Orlando, and I became the church secretary for our church.  Our pastor asked at one point, that I look up the missionaries that were having their birthday each week, and publish their names and birth date, so our congregation could pray for them.  We had heard from so many missionaries that they felt especially blessed on their birthdays, since they knew people across the USA were praying for them on that day.

In the process of looking for those missionary’s names, I suddenly remember – Hey! I have a cousin who is/was a missionary!  Milton!  So I researched his name, and low-and-behold, he was on furlough from the mission field!  He had gone from Taiwan to the seminary in Columbia to teach.  So I found his e-mail address and sent off a message – “do you remember me?  Your cousin?”   He wrote back right away, and we re-established our connection after 30 years!   Amazing!

But that’s not the end of the story.  This same pastor loved to have a “Missions Conference” at our church each year.  We would have missionaries from the international field, the USA field, the Florida field, and the Orange County field come and speak to us on different Sundays.  After I had re-established connection with Milton, I asked the pastor if he would like Milton to come as the international missionary speaker one year.  He agreed, and I contacted Milton again.  He came that time, spoke in the worship services, and stayed a few days with us.  We even had Bill and DiVoran meet us for a meal, so we could connect again as a family.  It was such fun!

Milton and his wife went back to the mission field, but to Shanghai.  While we continued to e-mail each other, we had to be very careful in the wording of our messages.  We couldn’t talk about church  God.  As a matter of fact, once Milton mentioned that they had about five people “go swimming” for the first time that week.  We understood that to mean they had been baptized!  And when I had been diagnosed with cancer, and I wrote that information to him, he wrote back that he had “talked to Daddy, and everything is going to be okay!”  Daddy being God.

Milton has retired now, but we are on facebook with each other, and continue to be in touch.  I love the ways God has brought us back into each other’s lives.

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