During a phone call to Donna Kay Boggs of Jenkins, talking about the book being put together about the 100-year birthday of Jenkins, she was interested in my being born in a boardinghouse in the 1920s on Main Street owned by my grandparents.
We were trying to figure out if it was the first boardinghouse built for the single coalminers in Jenkins. Our next door neighbors were the Blizzards on one side and my dad’s only sister, Ida Sexton, on the other side.
Donna Kay’s husband got on the phone to me and told me I had two first cousins still living, children of my Aunt Ida. One, Jackie Sexton, who was one of his best friends, was a retired Marine with three tours of duty in Vietnam and lived in Oklahoma. His sister, Gloria Sexton Polly, lived near the Boggs. I did not know either cousin was still around. They were both young kids when I went into the military.
My Aunt Ida had a large family, and when my dad was laid off from the mines and we moved to our farm in Cane Branch, things were very tough for us. My aunt gave my two brothers and me hand me down clothes from her sons, and helped my family many times. In return, we would take her family supplies from our farm that we grew.
The Boggses gave me my cousin Gloria’s phone number, and I called her and talked to her for a long time. She knew all about me from the stories I wrote in The Mountain Eagle. She saved all the copies and shared them with her brother Jackie in Oklahoma.
I now talk to my newfound cousins almost every day. I found out that when Jackie left for Vietnam from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., I was here, but neither knew we were that close to each other. Jackie and I both belong to the Disabled American Veterans.
I would like to thank Butch and Donna Kay Boggs in helping me get in touch with my two cousins.
Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfi eld, Calif.