Lifelong friends: Quartet of cousins recall a close childhood

Standing, from left, cousins Betty Harris and Nolan Wineinger. Seated, from left, cousins Bernadine McClain and Rita Stocksen.

Standing, from left, cousins Betty Harris and Nolan Wineinger. Seated, from left, cousins Bernadine McClain and Rita Stocksen.

Quartet of cousins living at Presbyterian Manor recall a close childhood

Sundays were always special to a group of cousins in Arkansas City and South Haven.

Nolan Wineinger, Bernadine McClain and Rita Stocksen remember their extended family getting together nearly every Sunday at the McClains in South Haven. They would feast on fried chicken, homemade chocolate pie, homemade ice cream and saltine crackers. Wineinger said even though he lived in Arkansas City, his family looked forward to visiting their South Haven family almost every weekend.

“We spent a lot of time over there when we were kids. We all played together,” Wineinger said.

Today the family is close again, as all three cousins live at Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor, along with a fourth member of their crew. Betty Harris grew up with the family and eventually married Ben, another cousin.

Although Betty Harris married into the family, they claim her as their own from way back.
“Bernadine and a friend used to come and take my sister Pat and I for walks” when they were children, Harris recalls. “She would tell us about the wildflowers. I think of that as part of my heritage.”

Bernadine McClain is the center branch of this segment of the family tree. Her mother’s brother is Stocksen’s dad. Her father’s sister is Wineinger’s mom. And her father’s brother was Ben Harris’ dad and Betty Harris’ father-in-law.

McClain, Stocksen and Harris attended South Haven High School together. Stocksen was four years ahead of Harris.

Who was the group’s ringleader? The women agree: Wineinger. He chuckles when they say it. Was he a prankster too? “Oh, at one time, I suppose,” he laughs.

Stocksen says the best thing about being at Presbyterian Manor is “we get to see each other more.” But they’re a busy bunch — it was still a challenge to get them all in the same place at the same time for a photo.

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