Boomer Grandpa — Loren Else column sig

My wife and I continue to plod along with the task of organizing and getting rid of stuff. When my mom passed away a little over a year ago, I became the keeper of the family photos.

Many of them are small black-and-white prints. Some of the photos are remarkable, simple moments captured many years ago. I have been sending photos to the appropriate siblings and cousins who will appreciate them.

I came across a great snapshot the other day of my mom, my older sister and me. I have a big piece of cake sticking out of my mouth. It’s not flattering. The photo also included my aunt Dixie, uncle Auggie, five cousins and my grandma Else.

We’re all crowded around a dining room table, and my sister and I were latched onto Grandma Else. I’m guessing the photo is the summer of ’64 in Leavenworth, Kan. I have few pictures of my grandma Else, who died of a heart attack in 1965.

My aunt Dixie, who was nothing but an incredible beacon of love, and uncle Auggie are now gone as well. As boomers age, our cousins become front and center regarding our past and our family connections. Most of the cousins in the photo are all still in Kansas. One moved away, another we lost to cancer.

Although I did not grow up near this group, my family would visit them every summer in the 1960s. My cousins were like brothers and sisters as well as friends. With the high number of us, the pack could easily get into trouble, and it was hard for the adults to figure out the real culprit of whatever was just broken.

Thinking of this bunch of cousins in the photo, I knew it was time to go see them. They all are huge Kansas City Chief fans, so I called and invited myself to watch the Super Bowl with them.

The drive down on Super Bowl Sunday was enjoyable, and as I got closer to Kansas and Missouri, I started to see more and more red (Chief colors) on people at gas stations, and there were about 20 fans with red jerseys at a Burger King in Cameron, Mo.

I even stopped at a rest stop in Lamoni, Iowa, picked up a 2020 map of Iowa and saw more Chief fans. I asked the volunteer at the welcome desk if people still ask for maps, and she assured me that they did. I felt good about that.

I arrived at my cousin Lori’s place mid-afternoon, and it was 61 degrees. Several televisions were on, but no pre-game was being watched. Everyone was outside. There were many conversations, much laughter, bean bag games, and even four birthdays were celebrated prior to kickoff.

Needless to say, my cousins have had kids, and their kids have had kids, so I lost track, but it had to be around 18 or 19 adults and numerous young ones of various age groups. Every single adult was in Chiefs gear except for one. She was wearing a Raiders shirt to honor her dad and was proud to wear it.

It was a party. Food, drink, cake, beer, pop and a great deal of hooting and hollering. With the comeback at the end and the Chief’s pulling out a victory, there was much cheering. I was glad I took the time to see my cousins. It was a great moment to share with them.

After the game horns were being honked, fireworks were being shot off, and I think I heard a few gunshot celebrations as well. It got a little crazy in Kansas.

I heaped a little praise on myself, indicating my presence was good luck and key to the Chiefs’ victory. They did not argue and invited me to return next year, particularly if the Chiefs are playing again.

Just like that photo 56 years ago, my cousins and I were gathered together. It felt really good. Stay connected to your family, and if you haven’t touched bases with some cousins for a while, I recommend you do so. There may be some stories you haven’t heard or stories you want to hear again.

I ate some cake as well, but no photos were taken.

Loren Else lives in Rochester and also writes the Post Bulletin’s “Day in History” column. Send comments and column ideas to Loren at news@postbulletin.com.

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