Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Uncle Harry and Aunt Helen
Uncle Harry fancied himself a ladies man. He liked pretty women and tried to keep as many as he could close to him. I have pictures of him in his World War I uniform surrounded by lovely nurses. He had been injured in a mustard gas attack.
Uncle Harry was Grandpa's younger brother. He is the only one of Grandpa's siblings that I knew.
Aunt Helen was one of three sisters. All had first names that began with the letter H.
Aunt Helen was pretty with red hair that she enhanced a bit with a henna rinse. She also had the redhead complexion. That meant she burned easily. She also hated freckles. I remember her working in the garden with a huge hat to protect her skin from the sun.
Aunt Helen was a school teacher. She loved children. Uncle Harry did not much care for work. He did not want to be a father.
When they decided to marry Uncle Harry told Aunt Helen that she would have to be the breadwinner. The school she taught was in another town quite a distance away. At that time teachers were not allowed to be married so she had to keep that a secret.
Uncle Harry was not without resources. When my great-grandfather died he left a farm and a business in town to each of his sons. Uncle Harry sold the grocery store he owned. He kept the farm. They had a house in town too.
I spent a lot of time with them. When I would spend the night Aunt Helen would tuck me in on the couch. Then she would carefully line chairs in front of me so I would not fall off in my sleep.
Because they had no children they had what I thought of as fancy food. I remember them having cantaloupe for breakfast one morning. Cantaloupe was not that fancy. We often had it in season. But Aunt Helen and Uncle Harry ate it with salt and pepper on it. Fancy.
Aunt Helen loved strawberry preserves. Me too. But we usually only had jelly. It was cheaper to make I guess. So I liked having toast and strawberry preserves with her.
Sometimes during the school year Uncle Harry would come and take me to a movie. That was fun. He even got popcorn.
What was the most interesting thing for me was to go to the farm when they cut hay.
Uncle Harry hired Indians (as they were called then) to help. Once the hay was cut and dried he did not bale it. He made haystacks.
Of course I was not very old so I could not help. I just sat on a wagon or back of a truck and watched. I found it fascinating to watch the men fork hay up into a huge pile. It may sound boring but I enjoyed it. During lunch break I would listen to them speaking their native language. I know it was some Sioux dialect but I do not know which tribe.
On a trip a few years ago I saw the house in town. It looks exactly as I remember it. I wish I could have gone inside.