As a little girl I was a handful and I am the first to admit it.I loved my life when my Dad and Mom were a young couple.I guess we were very poor but I never knew it.Our life revolved around playing outside and waiting with everything in us for our cousins to arrive or for us to go to our cousins.When our dads were alive it was nothing to wake up in the morning and there our cousins would be sleeping on the floor, the couch, and with us in our bed.That was the best surprise ever.Here is a picture of my little sisters and our very favorite partners in crime.They were my Uncle Gin and Aunt Shirley’s kids.We were always together and some of my favorite times were playing with Gary,Dave,Harold,Mary,Scott and Chuckie.We must have been at a reunion or something because my cousin Paulie is in this picture too.
Gary and crew were as poor as us and so that meant not many toys but it didn’t matter because we had our imaginations and we used them every time we were together.We were always outside and the things we made up were a thing of beauty now that I look back.We built forts and we ate mulberries until I was sick in a bush behind the barn at Grandma Hahn’s.Then there were the home made games we came up with….
Drunk Drivers was one of our favorites.With a smaller kid hoisted up piggy back style over your shoulders they were the driver and the carrier was the car.We would say I am Chuck or I am Gin.The little one up there really had no control as the car would run erratically around until you crashed with another kid.I think we got the idea from watching some of our Hahn family pull in the driveway because some of our uncles and even our dad drank.I would laugh hysterically with the crashing and it would go on until somebody got hurt and somebody ALWAYS got hurt.We had blood spilling more than once.I am surprised that a lot more didn’t happen to us because there was no such thing as tattling back then.If you went inside to squeal on someone more than likely you came out with a talking to because we were taught to make things right among ourselves and that was easy because we were all partnered up with our sisters and cousins.
We made houses under the front porch at Grandma Hahn’s.I don’t know how but we even had a stuffed chair under there and Gary,Linda, and I were putting the finishing touches on the place when Dave got the bright idea to start a fire.Linda and I tried to talk him out of it but he wouldn’t listen.Gary finally came to the rescue and put it out before we burned something down.Why oh why couldn’t we tattle!
We would stand in the front yard and make semis honk at Grandma Hahn’s and one time she came running out because she was sure one of us got hit on the road.That was the one and only time I ever saw her mad.It wasn’t pretty.
She always asked us if we went caca.If you didn’t feel good that was always the problem and more than one time we had to line up in front of her and everybody got a teaspoon of castor oil.It was the cure for everything,well,that and going caca.She is the only person I have ever heard use that phrase to see if you went number two.
Grandma also had bandy chickens and we all hated them.They would chase you and they were always mean.Gary was probably six and I was seven when Gary caught one and tried to grind it up in a corn grinder we found in the barn.Of course it didn’t work and then I was afraid that Grandma was going to see that chicken because it’s neck wasn’t quite right.If my daughter Brooke ever caught my grandson doing that she’d have him signed up for therapy and put on a prayer chain for the criminally insane.
I know that it sounds like we were in bad shape back then but we weren’t.Our big Hahn family was filled to over flowing with love.We learned how to survive and we created many memories.That time was hard but it was a blessing too.Yes,we were very poor but we have a legacy of family that I cherish.I don’t see my cousins that often but when I do it is like time stood still.I turned around in Menards one day and there was my cousin Gary and the first thing he did was wrap me around in a big old bear hug with Lizzie coming out of his lips.We both lost our dads to tragedy before we saw double digits in our age but that isn’t what I remembered.I remembered a cousin that was like a brother to me and a game of drunk drivers played by little Christian cousins.I hope our grandkids know how blessed we were in many ways and no matter what family is family in good times and bad.Our dads were taken from us but they left us with that feeling of love.I believe they got that from their mother so to all of my Hahn family I thank you and to God I say I am grateful.This isn’t saying I want my grandkids to ever know what the game of drunk drivers means,but to a little girl with a band of cousins and sisters it sure was a lot of fun to play.