The other little boy

Another November-born boy

It’s hard not to think of the Kennedy children this weekend, here 50 years after their father’s assassination.

Fred01It is hard not to think of one little boy who watched his father’s funeral on his third birthday.

But The Legal Genealogist can’t ever think of that little boy without thinking of another little boy, just one day older.

John F. Kennedy Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. The other little boy was born 200 miles to the north, in central New Jersey.

John F. Kennedy Jr. was born to a family of fame and wealth. The other little boy, to an ordinary middle class family of no particular repute.

John F. Kennedy Jr.’s birth was reported in newspapers everywhere — big headlines saying mother and son were doing fine. The other little boy — well, I remember vividly looking for the newspaper article that would tell of his birth and how he and his mother were doing.

And I remember being first puzzled and then angry — at the grand old age of nine — that nobody was writing about this little boy.

My mother’s little boy.

My little brother.

Placing any child in my family takes a bit of doing. This brother — my brother Fred — is my mother’s second son and fifth child. But because of my father’s earlier marriage, he is my father’s middle son — there are two older and two younger — and his sixth child.

As you can see, he was an adorable baby. And he grew into a cute little boy. And, as might be expected from the brother who is, perhaps, most like me, he grew into a handful.

Among his more memorable exploits were:

• his repeated efforts to burn the house down when he was about eight years old (what is it about kids and setting their rooms on fire anyway?);

• his decision to dive from the top of a jungle gym to the ground in the backyard, causing the first of his compound fractures of an arm;

• his decision to dive from the back of a horse to the ground after my folks moved to Texas, causing the second of his compound fractures of — if memory serves me correctly — the same arm;

• his decision not to mention that a sore on his arm seemed to be infected until he had to be hospitalized with a staph infection that almost cost him an arm (and, yeah, actually, if memory serves me correctly, that was the same arm too).

Fred02But then there have been all those other moments in his life:

• when he first joined the Army as a 17-year-old — and didn’t leave it until he retired as a First Sergeant;

• when he became the first to make my parents grandparents with his lovely daughter Bobbi — and the first to become a grandfather when Bobbi presented him with the first of what are now three grandchildren;

• when he finally found the real, true love of his life and married her last year in Tuscany.

He has become quite a remarkable man, this brother of mine, whose birthday is tomorrow.

But I still think the newspapers back all those years ago should have told everybody that my brother and his mother were doing fine. Fair’s fair, after all.

(Happy birthday, Fred!)

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9 Responses to The other little boy

  1. Janette F. Guinn says:

    Wishing a Happy Birthday to my distant cousin!!!
    Thank you, Judy, for all your memories :-)

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Janette — perhaps if you’re at Richmond NGS, you can meet some more of these cousins!

  2. Mary Ann Thurmond says:

    Wonderful memories for you, Judy—and Happy Birthday to Fred!

  3. Shelley says:

    Love this story…telling brother Fred Happy Birthday, he is adorable! My dad’s birthday is tomorrow as well.

  4. Paula Williams says:

    Mom’s favorite story of Fred’s mischief takes place at the farm. He had written all over one of the bedroom walls. Ordinarily, this action would incite some anger among the adults – but what he wrote was “I LOVE YOU MAMA CLAY!”

  5. Rondina says:

    With your new picture up and that of your brother, I can see the resemblance. Happy birthday, Fred.

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