I just happened to think of a little snippet as I was writing about Auntie's move to Alaska. My Grandma was in her forties when she had her last baby just two years before her first grandchild was born. That made my youngest uncle close enough in age and usually near enough in proximity that we grew up together, enjoying an almost sibling relationship that has remained today. I have another uncle three years older than I and an aunt nine years older. When you are only eight, a grown-up seventeen year old seems aloof and sophisticated. My aunt was that. She had boyfriends, she colored her hair, she wore sweater sets, she never had to go to the storm cellar, and she could play the piano.
Although I am sure this teenager was not happy sharing her parents and home with a dozen younger nieces and nephews, she seemed to tolerate us well. Most of the time we rode the school bus to the farm where Grandma minded us until Daddy or Mama got off work. I don't remember Auntie hanging out with us often but one afternoon she stopped at the piano to play a little tune. Sitting down on the piano bench we sometimes knelt beside for Grandpa's nightly prayers, she ran her petite fingers up and down the keyboard for an intricate run. It was impressive. She turned around and said, "I taught Jerry Lee how to do that." She then got up and moved off to the mysterious bedroom we were not allowed to enter. I believed her for years and never questioned where she ever came into contact with a star like he was then.
I remember Grandma making over one of Auntie's grey felt skirts to fit me. It had a button at the fitted waist and a circle skirt. Her tastes in clothes had probably changed by then as she wore the tighter fitting pencil skirts that had become popular. I was happy to get it from her even if it didn't have the poodle on a leash applique like some of the others had. Grandma knelt in the floor with the skirt spread out on a white sheet while she took a ruler to cut away the same amount of the non-raveling felt all around the full skirt. How grown up I felt when I slipped into that hand-me-down skirt thinking, "If I only had one of those neat sweaters with the little pearl buttons down the front."
But why on earth did Mama have to buy me those horrible saddle oxfords every time. I thought they were clunky, ugly, and indestructible. Oh yeah, that was the reason. They never wore out and I had to wear them until my toes were practically curled up inside the shoe. I wanted some pretty lightweight penny loafers with shiny new pennies stuck in the toes of them.
But it is so funny now because I think the
saddle oxfords are so cute. Of course they
would now that I am nostalgic for the