A Tale of Two Aunts

A Tale of Two Aunts

I didn't know Aunt Polly well but I suppose I liked her. She lived alone, one town over on the first floor of a large, three story, twin house, close enough to walk, though I never did. She was my grandfather's sister. We would stop and visit her on the way home from other journeys. Dad was very attentive that way.

We would always enter through the side door into her parlor, which was originally the dining room before the house was divided into apartments. To the left was a small kitchen and to the right was the original living room. The front room was always dark and I don't remember ever seeing anything in there except an ironing board and laundry baskets. Many years later I learned that she took in ironing to supplement her meager income.

I liked going to Aunt Polly's house. The parlor was lined with china cabinets; some built in and some free standing. Every shelf in every cabinet was taken up with the most amazing display of miniatures I ever saw. There were tiny glass and ceramic animals and little pieces of furniture; like for a dollhouse but more finely crafted. We could never touch but peered through the glass with utter fascination, while Dad and Polly talked.

At some point the visits stopped or at least we outgrew being dragged along. I am sure Dad continued his visits to check up on her. Years passed and the time came to attend her memorial service.

I think it was probably the first Quaker memorial service I ever attended. A memorial service is related to but very unlike a funeral. There is no preacher, no prayers or hymns. The attendees sit quietly until someone is moved to speak. They will stand and say something nice about the deceased, or tell an amusing anecdote; perhaps just a few words or sometimes a few minutes.

Aunt Babe was the quiet one in my father's family. I don't remember ever hearing her say much beyond a simple greeting at family affairs. So imagine my surprise when she stood and began to speak.

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Babe was a young girl. She'd had a disagreement with her mother over some long forgotten issue and she was upset. She decided to walk to Aunt Polly's house, further than she was supposed to go on her own, even in those days.

It was a long walk and she arrived tired and thirsty. The flame of her anger had died down but still simmered like the embers of last night's fire. Aunt Polly offered her a drink and Babe began to relate her troubles as Polly listened attentively. By now it was getting on towards suppertime and Aunt Polly suggested, "Why don't we have a cookout in the backyard." Just the thing to distract an angry young girl from her troubles.

They a built a fire in a free standing brick fireplace in the backyard. While the fire gave way to embers good for cooking, Polly got the food ready. They cooked and ate.

What Aunt Babe didn't know at the time, was that cooking in the back yard was not a choice for Aunt Polly. At that time of her life, she cooked out in the back yard every night. Her gas had been turned off. But instead of lamenting her own misfortune, she had turned her troubles into a delightful treat for an angry little girl.

Babe went home that night completely unaware of the true circumstances and did not learn the truth until many years later.

seeker561   seeker561 wrote
on 5/2/2008 12:39:16 AM
I date the picture about 1910.

Mike Firesmith   Mike Firesmith wrote
on 5/1/2008 7:08:04 PM
Wow Bill, she has incredible eyes! What year was this photo taken?

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This is a true story. I read an article on another site about a funeral gone bad and was reminded of this event. I wrote it as a counterpoint to the other writer's story.
A Word from the Writer
The picture is of Aunt Polly, taken about 1910.
Published Date
4/8/2006 12:00:00 AM
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