You might also like

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aunt Laura

A stock photo--neither woman pretty enough to be my Aunt Laura, who always wore her hair bobbed.

Aunt Laura was the oldest of my Dad’s sisters.  The one who grew up with him in the Children’s Home, for as long as he was there.  I could tell she was his favorite.

Aunt Laura was tiny and scrappy.  After the Children’s Home she took a job in Cleveland, as a switchboard operator.  One late afternoon at work her fellow switchboard worker told Aunt Laura her new date would be there soon to pick her up, so she was going to the ladies room to freshen up.  Operator Two went down the hall.  New Beau came in the door and asked for Number Two.  Aunt Laura sized him up, announced Number Two was gone, but she would be happy to go with him.  She took her coat and purse and left with New Beau.
And I have even more stories of how relatives met and married.

Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank started out in Independence, Ohio, but moved to a piece of land in Richfield, Ohio after they finished building a house.  Uncle Frank built that house out of two voting booths, put in an L shape.  I found an approximation of a voting booth on the internet to give to an historian who had no idea.  He is just too young!  The voting booth my parents used was two streets up and stood across the end of a dead end street.  It was there until I was thirteen or fourteen. The poll workers opened it on voting day and the neighborhood voted there.  It was about twenty feet long and ten feet wide.  The voting booth in our precinct had no wheels, and two doors on the long side.

The house in Richfield had a covered and screened front porch across the short end of one voting booth which was the kitchen in front and Uncle Frank’s and Aunt Laura’s bedroom in the back.  You turned right off the kitchen into the second wing of the L that ran across the bottom; it was the living room and two bedrooms for my cousins.  When I was very young the house had a pump outdoors for water and an outhouse.  All my cousins were older than I; the youngest was two years older, and he had sisters all the way up to ten years older than I was.  Until Uncle Frank put in a bathroom, he and Aunt Laura sometimes brought my cousins to our house in Akron to get cleaned up before the first day of school.

The house had no basement in the beginning, and when I was still young all the male relatives gathered and dug out the basement.  That was just astounding.  And the dirt was very red.  When I was a young married woman the L was filled in to become a square with a new living room.  The house is still there although my Aunt and Uncle have been gone many years.
Uncle Frank worked as an engineer for a company in Cleveland whose name starts with a W.  It may come to me.  He also had a truck garden and goats.  One of my Dad’s aunts would not drink the goat’s milk when she visited, and was quite pleased when milk in a real bottle came out of the ice box.  Which was the commercial milk bottle Uncle Frank and Aunt Laura used for her goat’s milk.

Uncle Frank had a wooden leg.  He lost his leg jumping a freight car when he was 12.  Can you imagine anything more wonderous than an uncle who held his socks up with thumb tacks.  Well, one sock, but he always said “socks” and for all we knew, he had thumb tacks in both legs.
Dad told so many stories about being at Aunt Laura’s and Uncle Frank’s when he was off the ships.  He’d picked a handful of cherries for his oldest neice, Kathleen, and told her to eat the fruit but spit out the pits and give them back to him.  After awhile she held out her hand to his and deposited a handful of pulp.

Kathleen handed Dad her little kitten one day and said ‘Uncle Jack, something’s wrong with kitty’.  Very wrong indeed.  The kitten had been shot through and through, Dad said with a dum-dum shell.  A tiny hole on one side and raw and lacerated flesh on the other.  He and Uncle Frank cleaned up the kitten and hoped for the best.  The kitten survived, although with no fur on one side.  They called him Al Capone.  Uncle Frank had a collie named Jigger.  When we played in the fields Jigger wouldn’t let us go past the bridge over the creek.
Aunt Laura quilted other women’s quilt tops.  Her quilting frame was set up along one wall of her bedroom.  She charged by how much thread she used.  Her quilting money was her money.  I remember her putting it down the front of her dress.

The phone was just inside the back door to the porch.

They were two shorts and a long.

Aunt Laura and Uncle Frank were always sweethearts.  They were the weavers whose equipment and looms we bought.  There are many notes in the copy of A Handweavers Pattern Book:  “Dearest, please check my threading.”  “It’s perfectly done my dear and sweet girl.”  I’m sorry I have no pictures of them, but I’ll see what Kathleen might be able to spare.

No comments:

Post a Comment