The family Cushing: great neighbors and friends, no fences

(Editor’s Note: Marie Donnelly Cushing passed away peacefully this month at the age of 98. She and Dr. Vincent Cushing were married 73 years when Dr. Cushing passed in 2018. This is a tribute to the couple and their family, written for the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.)

Congratulations from Barbara and Dick Snider

Barbara and I met Marie and Vin in 1961 when we moved to Maryland from Kansas. We rented a house on East Bexhill Drive, and our backyard was separated from the Cushing’s backyard only by a hedge. It took our four children only about an hour to discover the hedge, and the Cushing kids on the other side. Before the day was over, we met Marie and Vin.

We moved away in 1964, but returned a year later, and we were determined to buy a house in the neighborhood. Luckily, we found one on Old Spring Road just two blocks from the Cushings.

It took us — particularly me — some time to learn exactly how many children they had. It seemed to me that every time I was in their home, I would see a child I was sure I hadn’t seen before. It wasn’t until they had a family portrait taken in their living room and gave us a copy that I began to get them straightened out in my mind. The portrait is the only time I have ever seen them all together, sitting still.

We had some great times with the Cushings, and some perilous times, too. One evening in their backyard, Vin couldn’t get the charcoal to light. He left for a moment and then returned carrying a small bucket. He told me to get ready, and after he tossed the contents of the bucket on the charcoal, I was to light a match and throw it on.

He did, and I did, and there was a small explosion, and flames shot about 20 feet into the air, singeing my eyebrows on the way.

“Man,” I said, “That’s some kind of lighter fluid.”

“That wasn’t lighter fluid,” he said, “that was gasoline.”

Later, he said the hamburgers tasted a little funny, and that maybe he should have used premium rather than regular.

One day he took me and one of his boys sailing on the South River in Annapolis. With Vin at the helm, we literally flew down the river and into Chesapeake Bay, and had no problems. But then, it came time to start home, upriver and against the wind.

If it hadn’t been for the powerboats that day, we’d still be there. Most of the boat owners are members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and they get some kind of brownie points for rescuing sailboats that have run aground. About six of them must have made Admiral that afternoon, taking turns pulling us off sandbars.

It was my introduction to sailing, and the main reason I am today still a confirmed drylander.

One thing Vin and I had in common was the amount of enthusiasm we had for the neighborhood Christmas lighting contest. Shortly after we met, we got together on that issue, and decided we’d let Si McNeely win it every year. It was understood in the neighborhood that Si would win, and Vin and I saw no reason to upset that tradition.

The longer we knew the Cushings, the more we admired them. We learned of their long association with Notre Dame, and we visited there with them one football weekend. We enjoyed meeting their friends and relatives, particularly Marie’s father and Vin’s mother. We have enjoyed and admired their children, every one of them top drawer.

The Cushings have enriched our lives, and the lives of our children. This may be a poor choice of words, but we say to all of them that they are one helluva great family, and we send our greetings and congratulations to Marie and Vin on their 50th.

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