Monday, February 19, 2018

75 Years of Cousins, February 19, 2018

Home is where love resides,
memories are made,
friends are always welcome,
and families are forever.

Today is the 75th birthday of my cousin Hershell Gower who lives in Bullhead City, California. Hershell is the first of the 12 Grandchildren of our Grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. The 12 of us were all raised together in San Diego back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Leroy and Nola had moved to San Diego during the Second World War in 1942 from the small town of Okemah, Oklahoma. Within a matter of months the grandchildren began arriving on the scene. Hershell, his brother Jimmie, my brother Gary and myself were the first four, born in the decade of the 1940s. Over the 20 year period from 1943-1962 the Gower children, Hendrix, Maida and Vicki, gave their parents a total of 12 Grandkids. Hershell was the initial Gower Grandchild, born in 1943 to Hendrix and Starlene Gower, while my brother Russell Shepard was the last one, born in 1962.

Leroy and Nola Gower and Family, 1968
All 12 of us kids frequented the Gower home on Lynn Street in East San Diego for family events, or for a weekend stay, or just to stop by and visit. Some of us even lived there for periods of time. It was a happy place where we all felt welcome and where familial love was in abundance. In that modest 2 bedroom home the Senior Gowers lived for almost 50 years. It still remains an important place for all us in our remembering of our Gower grandparents. From Grampa's cigarette smoke, to Grandma's Tommy Tarts and other culinary delights, it was a house of memories that will never leave us.

The first picture shows Leroy and Nola Gower in the front yard of their home on Lynne Street in San Diego in 1968. Pictured here are most of their family members, especially their first two Great Grandchildren, Kerri Shepard and Sean Gower -- both less than a year old -- sitting on Grandpa's lap.

Hershell, Hendrix and Nola Shannon Gower, 2003
It has been 75 years now since the start of that generation of those dozen Gower grandkids. Two of those 12 have passed away: my sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971), and my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson (1953-2016). Today the other 10 live scattered around from Western Washington to Southern California to Arizona to Tokyo, Japan. We cousins don't get to spend as much time with each other as we did back in our youth, but our connections remain the same, with an historical bond that will always be there.

The second picture I am including shows Hershell on the left with his father Hendrix Gower and his grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. This picture was taken in 2003 in Anacortes, Washington at the 100th birthday celebration of Nola Gower.

Happy Birthday and best wishes on this day of a milestone celebration to Hershell Gower, the senior member of those dozen cousins. I spoke with Hershell earlier today. He is doing well and enjoying life with his wife Shelly and their dogs "in the sticks", as he calls it, in Bullhead City, California.
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Steve Shepard

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