Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aunt Kathryn Speaks . . .

Plentiful Sugar
(Image from Wikipedia)

My paternal Aunt Kathryn, who took care of me for about six months when I was five years old and who recently requested artworks by my eleven-year-old son, En-Uk, writes to offer birthday congratulations:
Hi Jeff, Am glad that you had a good birthday.
And offer a few anecdotes:
Here are a couple of stories to make you smile.
The first of these two concerns my paternal grandmother, Grandma Nora, whose husband -- my Grandfather Horace Hodges -- had recently died in a tree-felling accident, leaving her with a fatherless horde of kids to raise on her farm:
Back during the 2nd W.W. everything thing was rationed. So, my mother got more ration books or coupouns than people W/no kids.

So one day up pulled the neighbors in their big ole horse drawn wagon. A couple that lived just past Flora church house were 'parked' right in front of the old log house and mother asked them to get down and come in.

Maude sez, "No, Nora we ain't got time, we just come over here to get some sugar, our strawberries are ripe and I want to make some jam."

By this time mother had her hands fisted on her hips and I knew she was mad. She said "Maude, I ain't got any sugar to share."

Then Maude sez, as she pointed to Virginia [little bitty baby girl], "Don't tell me that child can use that much sugar."

Mother said, "NO, BUT BY GOSH she can SPILL that much!!"
That sounds a lot like Grandma Nora, unabashed about speaking her mind. But I'd bet my bottom dollar that she wasn't thinking so much of potentially spilled sugar as the fact that she needed the stuff for brewing some of that Big Creek Farm 'wine' that Uncle Cran told us about. The second anecdote concerns me and my youthful misconceptions at about age nine, when I stayed the summer at Grandma Nora's farm. Down the big hill from her place was the home of Wiley and Leona, along with her brother Hiram (whose name was pronounced "Harm"), but I didn't know the details of their arrangment. I just knew them as one big, happy family:
As you recall, you stayed there on the farm a good bit and knew Wiley, Leona and Hiram Haynes. Wiley passed away while you were there so when you got back to Salem your Granma Perryman said to you, "I guess Leona is lonesome since her husband died." You said, "No, just one husband died."
I recall that vividly. In fact, my first words on the subject were at Grandma Nora's farm itself. My Uncle Woodrow and Aunt Pauline had driven over to the church for the funeral, and when we were gathered back at the farm afterwards, the two of them, along with Grandma Nora and Grandpa Archie (my step-grandfather), were standing around in the yard talking about how sad this death was.

I listened for a while in perplexity, then interrupted them all and said, "Well, I don't know why everyone's so sad. She had two husbands, and only one of them died!"

I was baffled when they all broke into laughter.

I eventually learned the truth, even before seventeen, but I am now curious about a suppressed anecdote:
Virginia keeps telling me to tell the story of the "living bra" to you but I tell her no, she can tell you, so if you are curious ask Virginia about that one . . .
I am curious. Virginia! What's this about a living bra? While we're eagerly awaiting that, let note Aunt Kathryn's parting words:
Still enjoying En-Uk's art blog and they make me smile and laugh out loud. Thanks, young man. Bye.
That "Bye" was a nice touch since En-Uk usually signs off that way.

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