Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 23, 2010

My Cousin Tried to Kill Me

Cousins Bowden on Poquoson River, Virginia, 22 Aug 2010

My cousin Robin Bowden is 14 years younger than me.  He’s been kayaking – very seriously – for about 15 years.  I kayaked with some nationally ranked Junior Olympians, my friends from High School, on the Potomac – 42 years ago.   42 years. 

Robin came here to take me out on water and check it out.  We did an hour and a half or so on Friday.  Then, we went to the Great Dismal Swamp on Saturday.  It was 2.5 miles to Lake Drummond. (Robin will measure the distance.)   We paddled for over 4 hours. 

When we got back, I could barely lift my arms.  Then, it came to me.  My cousin is trying to kill me.  The old death-by-kayak ploy.   But, ha ha, it didn’t work.  Maybe another half hour would have stroked me out, but nyah, nyah, he didn’t get me.  Not this time.   We did another hour and half AFTER church and Sunday school.

So which one of my kids put Robin up to offing the old man with too many paddles and portages?  Hmm.  Need to figure this out. 

Since Cousin Robin didn’t kill me, we had a good weekend.  He was a great sport helping to babysit my 3 grandbabies. 

We are two of about (my estimate) 300 living descendants of Florence Ellen Maley (1855-1944) and Jimmy C. Bowden (1850-1910).  The Bowden-Maley Reunion is every first weekend in October in Tipton County, Tennessee.  My People. 

My father and Robin’s grandfather were first cousins (of 34 or so) 10 years apart.  When Robin’s grandfather’s  (Warner Bowden)  younger brother (“Dit” – they all had nicknames) died, my Daddy said, “I will be your Dit.”   So, first cousins became as close as brothers back in the 1930s.

So, Robin’s Dad, Prof. Henry Warner Bowden, who is my 3rd cousin became like my 1st cousin.   He said something to the effect, ” we will our consanquinity (sp).”  And, so it is. 

Great weekend with kin and friend.



  1. 3.80 miles to the lock/portage… I will conservatively estimate, using Google Earth, Jim and I did just shy of 10 miles on the Canal and along the Cypress shoreline of Lake Drummond.

    NOTE: Only three paddles and only two portages – to and from – of about 30 yards. Whoop-dee-doo. Sorry M______, not enough to do the job. 🙂

    So, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. 🙂

    THANK YOU Cousin for allowing me to share my passion with you. For letting me spend wonderful hours with Molly’s and Pete’s spunky monkeys. For honoring the memory and service of Pete’s brother in arms CPO Collin Thomas. For opening your home to a Yankee-by-circumstance.

    Be forewarned. There will be a next time. Very soon. Hopefully Miss Maggie and husband Russell (you know, the gent who is afflicted by a Clemson STD) will be in attendance. To contact the insurance agent… I mean to share the Family Stoke.

  2. Who is Jim?

  3. Jim –
    The issue is not so much whether the young are trying to do us older folk in – it’s more are we trying to do ourselves in! My visions of past glory are indeed fond memories and well to be kept as that – memories.
    Thanks for the great story early in the morning.

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