Sunday, July 12, 2015
My dad was in the Air Force, in Goose Bay, Labrador when I was born. Mom lived in Colorado. Aunt Cora came from North Salem, Indiana to care for my mother and me. My birth was quite traumatic. The doctor couldn't find my heartbeat at one point and my foot was caught on my mother's pubic bone. She was in excruciating pain. So they knocked her out and did who knows what to get me out. It wasn't a c-section. Think military doctors in the early 1950s. She recovered slowly.
Aunt Cora was my father's half-sister/1st cousin. She was old school - very strict. She had one son who she doted on. Her husband came back from WW1 shell shocked. Now they'd call it extreme PTSD. He was locked away in an institution in Kentucky.
Her philosophy on raising children was - spare the rod, spoil the child, give a baby too much attention, spoil the child.
My father was able to return to Colorado to be with us not long after I was born. Aunt Cora went home to Indiana.
Every few years we'd make the trek to Indiana to visit family and friends. Aunt Cora's house was our home base. It smelled musty with a hint of Chihuahua. Skeeter ruled the roost. Nasty little dog that shook when you looked at him, and nipped your nose if you got too close. When I was older, I had to give up the comfort of the double bed I shared with my parents in the spare room for the couch in her compact living room - with a fine layer of dog hair.
Sounds like a miserable time doesn't it? I had a love hate relationship with Aunt Cora and her house.
I looked forward to spending time there. In spite of the irritations, I developed lots of happy memories.
Aunt Cora was the head cafeteria cook at the North Salem elementary school. Their menu
She had a small mud room in the back of the house with a work bench. That's where my cousins and I cleaned our fish. We'd all line up with knives and buckets of water. If we wanted dinner, we cleaned our own fish. Mind you, we did this at the ripe old age of 7 and 8.
After dinner, we'd eat watermelon on the grass. The adults sat on the front porch swing and various metal chairs in the vast yard, drinking ice tea from metal tumblers or tall, thin rubber spaghetti string glasses while we kids ventured in the back 40 near the apple orchard to catch our nightly firefly allotment. It was dark and spooky back there, but the little lightning bugs thrived among all the trees. Easy pickins'. After a rain storm, it smelled of over ripe apples and wet grass.
On Fridays we'd all venture out in her pink rambler that she affectionately named, Rose Bud. Small neighboring towns held Friday Fish Frys. You could always find one. Fresh fish, greens, potato salad, corn bread and baked beans. And for dessert - an array of hot out of the oven pies made by the local ladies.
Life didn't get much better.