Table of Contents

Going out west

Please don't help me with my genealogy; I'm trying to get rid of it. I mean that. My parents each had about 10 siblings. I never met all my aunts & uncles; I don't even like to think about how many first cousins there were. One Vermillion was in prison somewhere, one had died, another simply disappeared. On the Cassady side, I could never make it add up. I knew 6 of the Cassady sibs; who were the other 4? I saw the names when I was interested in genealogy, but a number of them did not ring any bells.

She was much mellower than Aunt Minnie. Visiting relatives was a regular thing. Dad's relatives lived in Alabama, where he was born, or Miami, where Cassadys migrated for economic reasons. We'd visit Aunt Jewel in Samson as a Sunday drive from Marianna. Early on these trips would include Aunt Minnie, but then she died. I liked Aunt Jewel.

That's what they called him. They told me I met my Cassady grandfather, Big Daddy, but I have no recollection of him at all; he died when I was about 5. I never met my Vermillion grandparents AFAIK; I think they died around the same time, but I'm not sure. I like not knowing this stuff.

Rhymes with Alabama. That's how my relatives said Miami, my-yam-uh. I loved to go on trips to visit relatives, even though I spent a good part of every trip being a whiny little bitch. But Miami was my favorite place to go. I loved the tropical feel down there, and I was a big fan of the fruit. Marie & Don had the best fruit.

Aunt Marie had married a wealthy man; they lived on what seemed a vast estate in Coral Gables. It had a wall, not a fence around it. They had fruit trees: mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, avocadoes, lychees, and my favorite: spicy-tasting sapodillas. I loved all the tropical fruit but grapefruit. Every year for Xmas they'd send us a big box of it.

Going out west. Miami relatives would often visit us, and we took a trip to Miami at least once a year. Going out west was a much bigger deal, a two-week road trip every five or six years. I have memories from two of these, one in 1955 right before we moved to Marianna, and one in 1960, shortly before we moved to Asheville.

I kinda like not knowing. In 1955 I was at the height of my spoiled brat powers. The first leg of that trip west went east: we visited Polly & Paul in Gulfport. I do not know which side of the family these folks were on; they were neither Cassadys nor Vermillions, so Polly was the sib, but I don't know whose.

I liked to soak in the tub and play around in the bath. I'd always lived in a house with 2 bathrooms; the idea of a house with only one never entered my head. I'd left my toothbrush in my suitcase, so I wrapped a towel around me and went out to get it. My parents had to intercede so I could have 2 more minutes; teeth went fast. Seared in memory is the image of Polly & Paul walking past me in the hallway, Aunt Polly making noises of appeasement as Uncle Paul stared straight ahead, jaw set and eyes narrowed. You might say I was self absorbed.

Scotty's night-night. Then we headed west for real. I don't remember much about that trip, just fragments, but the night-night stands out. That's what I called my security blanket. I can't remember what it was; some smallish piece of fuzzy cloth, maybe an old crib blanket? I was ferociously attached to it, which made it an irresistible target for teasing from Peggy & Tim (Gail had already flown the coop). On the 1955 trip they put the coup de grĂ¢ce to it. They waited till I was asleep, then gently eased it away from me and threw it out the window when the folks weren't watching. It was hot; windows were always open. When I woke and discovered it missing, it was miles away, irrecoverable. There was a set-to. Ah, the joys of family life.