Case in Point

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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Here is to Bob and Kay Wiley

(Remarks at the Bob and Kay Wiley’s 50th wedding celebration)

I come from a small family.

On my father’s side, my paternal grandparents had few progeny. My grandfather had, I think, one sister who lived 25 miles from me but whom we never met because Grandpa Burt was ashamed of her. So, no great uncles or aunts on that side of the family. My grandmother had, I think, four bachelor brothers, and one sister who died before I was born. The dead sister did have three children: a son who had no children, a daughter who had no children, and another daughter who had one child – a daughter roughly my age. So out of the Case side of my family we had five bachelors, and two childless couples.

On my mother’s side, since she was the baby of the family, I had several cousins old enough to be my father and only three cousins roughly my age.

So if I was to have any family playmates, they all had to be second and third cousins, and cousins by marriage.

In short, the Cases are not a family oriented unit because there wasn’t much of a family to be oriented to.

But there was one cousin, actually a second cousin (or maybe a third cousin), who I was fond of and looked forward to being around. She was the daughter of the daughter of my dead great-aunt, the sister of my father’s mother. And if you can follow that you need to work for “Ancestory.com.” Kay Wallace was her name and she lived “on the coast;” that’s Ellensburg talk for Seattle.

As a school boy, I remember coming to Seattle from Ellensburg on the two lane highway 10 to watch cousin Kay dance in big auditoriums (Moore Theater) before big audiences. I couldn’t see her very well, but I was impressed.

Then as Kay got older, she moved uptown – Mercer Island – and in the early and mid-1950s we would come to the Island to watch the Gold Cup/Seafair Hydroplane races on the Wallace television and during breaks stand in her backyard and listen for the roar of Slo-moshun 4 and 5. I still have some Seafair race pins from those early races.

In those halcyon days, from time to time her family and my family would gather at the farm home of the four bachelors outside of Bellingham for summer fun. It was the l950s and a Norman Rockwell world for me. It was a simpler time and things seemed to be ordered and predictable.

Then she got older and other men came into her life, and she began dating. But it became even more fun for me to visit her because I got to drive around with her boyfriend who had a really loud car and made it roar when we went through the Mount Baker tunnel going into Seattle. It was great fun for a small town junior high kid coming to the big city driving around with a cool basketball player guy with REALLY cool, loud exhaust pipes. The boyfriend, the one with the loud car, always treated me with kindness. He was very nice to this country cousin from central Washington.
 
Then she got even older and went to college, and low and behold, she brought her boyfriend – now her husband – to Ellensburg to go to college at Central Washington College of Education. She and her husband were going to be teachers. And they had an apartment and everything. It was really great to have them in the same town as me. Unfortunately, that lasted only a couple of years or so before they took teaching jobs back on the Westside of the state.

I graduated from high school in l961 and during my college years we would gather at the Wallace home in Redmond for Thanksgiving. It was really the only scheduled time that the extended Case family got together with any family members, other than my paternal grandparents.

After I graduated from college, Kay and I drifted apart as jobs and family took us far away from each other.

Over the years, as we have moved and our families have grown we continued to live separate lives. It is hard to reconstruct the past when the pressures of the present intrude. We have met to spend a day together here or there, sometimes a dinner, sometimes a brief visit. But not much more. I don’t know why it takes something like this special occasion to get us together again.

I am now approaching 70 with two married daughters and one granddaughter. But I still remember those days over a half a century ago when I played with my cousin in the South Fork River just past Deming in the summer heat, watched and heard from her home on Mercer Island Stan Sayres bring his racing boats to victory on Lake Washington, worshipped her really nice boyfriend/husband the Mercer Island basketball player, Bob Wiley, had nifty dinners with them in their College Apartment in Ellensburg, and then enjoyed their infrequent but pleasurable adult companionship in later years.

I come from a small family, so she is the closest thing I have to an older sister and he is the closest thing I have to a brother.

Wileys, thank you for the wonderful memories.

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