There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.
— George Sanders
It is 1956 and a drop-dead blonde (Marilyn Monroe) is working in a café bus stop in Montana. A stubborn cowboy tries to get the drop-dead blonde to get married and move to his ranch. They made a movie of the bus stop, the blonde and the cowboy.
Now, back in the real world there is a real-life drop-dead blonde waiting on the side of old U. S. 431 North near Duke to get to her job. A bus-driving “cowboy” stops, backs up with:
“You wanta ride?”
She was headed for work at the Trailways ticket counter in Anniston.
The bus-driving “cowboy” was my uncle, George David Cobb. Jr.
That first meeting didn’t register all that much on the Richter scale, but time changes everything and on June 26, 1946, he talked Lois Phillips into holy matrimony ... and brought her into my life.
I was 12 at the time and already appreciated beauty. While I don’t recall the exact date I met her I do remember thinking:
“Where did he get her?”
I also remember:
“Hello, George Houston. I’m your new aunt. My name is Lois.”
With that there is also the remembrance of the warmth in her first hug, a warmth I have enjoyed for the past 72 years, a warmth that I felt again in a hug and an “I love you” this past Sunday at her 95th birthday celebration at her daughter’s home.
If you would like the condensed version of all that, it’s simple: The blonde who lives and loves at my house wasn’t my first blonde who lived in my family and gave unconditional love ... to all.
Quiet and soft-spoken to a fault, my Aunt Lois still has that wavy blonde hair and still loves the “cowboy” she lost to a heart attack on Aug. 30, 2000.
In those 54 years, Lois Phillips Cobb was a true “Steel Magnolia.”
The “cowboy” was gone a lot, hustling his own 18-wheeler all around the South for Deaton Truck Lines.
Lois Phillips Cobb worked, birthed and raised two kids, kept her mother and the “cowboy’s” mother in her home at the same time for many years. I asked her one time how she managed that.
In her soft voice came:
“Oh, it worked out all right. Mrs. Cobb took care of the cooking and my mother took care of the kids.”
But it was also my Aunt Lois who took care of a big strawberry roan horse her “cowboy” loved to ride. When he was home, he and “Ol’ Salem” spent a lot of time checking out the farm.
I have a memory there of the night a neighbor called and said “Ol’ Salem” was at his place.
We went for “Ol’ Salem.” I crawled up to ride him home. My dear Aunt Lois drove away and somewhere in the middle of the night “Ol’ Salem” threw me off in a briar patch and went on alone.
And it was Lois Phillips Cobb’s pencil that kept the family’s finances on even keel, including doling out the money her “cowboy” had to spend for food and lodging when on the road.
She also worked full time at Moore Printing in Heflin.
In the years her two kids were in school at Heflin High, she was involved in the band, says daughter Donna:
“Whatever was needed, whatever was asked, she was always, always there.”
There was so much more she did, not the least of learning from my grandmother how to make chicken dumplings. In my adult years, I can’t count the times I wound up at their house on Sunday ... for my grandmother’s chicken dumplings made by my Aunt Lois.
And she’s still a beauty, still has that wavy blonde hair, is still soft-spoken, and still wraps all around her in a warmth of forever love.
Love you, sweetheart ... and thank you ... forever ‘n forever.
George Smith can be reached at 256-239-5286 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org