Cousins Connect


Cousins Connect

One morning my phone rang early and I heard my cousin Jim's voice.
"Jimmy - how great to hear from you." The phone is a blessing.

A conversation with Jimmy was just what I needed on another self- isolated day - where I was hoping that I would never catch the virus that was loose in the world. 

I told him I was writing a bit about our Nanny - Marie Louise Cobb Diggle. 

We were the first cousins born born before the "daddies" went away to WW11. So we are the kids that have stories the later younger cousins don't know although they have heard about them.

I had always thought Nanny, my grandmother was a fascinating woman.  This call from Jimmy was pure luck because I could ask him about his memories about her and they would water mine. 

"Jimmy what's your best memory of Nanny's house on Central Avenue?" 
The quiet fell between us as he thought where to start -
 "I always think of the fire first."
"You do? 
That fire under the breakfast room wasn't exciting."
"No. I am talking about the day Tommy and I were making bombs in the big garage on the back of the yard and it caught fire. 
Nanny had a fit and called the firemen and the police came too."

We started laughing and laughing and it was as though we were children together again.

When he stopped laughing he asked me, 
" Do you remember that refrigerator? 
It was specially made to fit the whole wall on one side in the breakfast room. The funniest part was that there wasn't just one door - there were nine small doors.  Getting something to eat was a search."
Ofcourse I remembered. 
"You remember how Nanny kept her vegetable leavings in a jar in the refrigerator until there was enough to make her delicious soup."
"So good." 
Jimmy and I talked and talked and talked.

I told him about my night with Nanny at the Visualite Theater.
" I was surprised when Nanny invited me to come with her to the Visualite Movie on Elizabeth Avenue to see a British movie, The Lavender Hill Mob, starring Alec Guiness. 
I had never seen a British movie. I was a Junior at Central High School and considered myself reasonably sophisticated for an evening with Nanny. 
I walked through her front door in time. She was wearing her usual slim grey wool slacks and a matching sweater with her long string of white pearls knotted around her neck. She slipped behind the wheel of her new sleek green Studebaker. We started out early to get there early. This was 1951and she wanted to have time to smoke one of her red beauty tip Marlboro cigarettes before we settled in the theater. 

Lights down, previews played and then the Feature Movie. Her daughters, my aunts, called her an anglophile. "Mama loves to read British mysteries and magazines." Within five minutes after the movie started Nanny  began laughing out loud- - and so did I. It was a different kind of comedy for me.  I was caught by it as we sat in uncomfortable seats for 88 minutes. 

As the lights came back on Nanny picked up her bag. She leaned over to me, "well, what do you think?" 
" I loved it - so funny. Thank you for bringing me." 
We giggled as we walked down the crowded aisle leading to the lobby.

Outside Nanny pointed to her car in the parking lot - laughing she said " ah there she is --
Mrs. Bufforpington - just where I left her."

That was her name for the new car and she loved saying it.

Sixty-nine years later I still remember Mrs. Bufforpington -  

These days I often wear Nanny's long string of cosmetic pearls when I tell stories - especially about.

I wish I could have told her what I saw when my husband Jim and I went to London. I could have told her that now I know that her grandparents came to the United States in 1849- - from London - - 
well - no wonder she was an anglofile - - and I am grateful she shared it with me.


Pam J. said...

Hi Ellouise,
I have been lurking on your lovely blog for a few years, ever since I discovered it -- and I'm not sure how that happened exactly. We know, or knew, each other back in the late 60s and early 70s, when I was married to your cousin, Tommy. Is that him in the picture of your cousins? And maybe his sister, Sandra, is also in that picture? Is that you in the middle?

I'm always happy to read what you're thinking about and doing, and I remember you and Jim quite fondly from all those years ago. I live not far from you -- in Colesville, MD. I remarried in 1978, have two grown children and one brand-new baby granddaughter, and I retired from NIH in 2007, after working there for 40 years, a wonderful place to work for your entire working life.

I'm now happily retired but keep busy (or did) until March. I work with my local Meals on Wheels program, I'm a page at my local library, and until last year I was a volunteer at the Franciscan Monastery in NE DC. I garden and read and fume about politics. I blog occasionally and I follow a number of other bloggers in addition to you.

It sounds like you're managing during this covid crisis. Today I finally found the nerve to communicate with you!
Stay well,



What a lovely surprise to finally see your nice here. Very glad to catch up with you and find out how your are, your husband and your children- - - and a gnadchild!
I do hope that Pam J will be enough to bring you this answer. BTW - you were right about the kids picture.

Hope you will send me a connection.

Fondly, Ellouise