My Doting Aunt Helen
My Grandpa Clarence died suddenly when I was eleven, but Grandma Mimmi and Aunt Helen continued to live with us. Our house was “sort-of” divided, so they had a little kitchen and few rooms to themselves.
When I wasn’t doing kitchen chores or helping in the field, I liked to visit with Mimmi and Helen. They enjoyed listening to me prattle about neighborhood news, and Aunt Helen would read to me.
I was especially attached to Aunt Helen, who doted on me. She bought me a lot of fancy clothes (which I’d get all torn and dirty from rough housing in the War Games). On my birthday, May 22, she always got me a frilly summer dress with matching shoes and socks. These outfits always made me feel special … even if they didn’t fit my lifestyle!
Helen was a professional woman, who worked as a secretary in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. She rented a room in a large, elegant house on Water Street (in Eau Claire), owned by an older widow. Aunt Helen stayed there during the week and helped the widow with household chores. Helen came out to the farm on weekends … people didn’t drive back and forth like they do now.
Aunt Helen enjoyed going shopping on her lunch hour. On Friday evenings, she always arrived with little gifts for me … like dresses for my dolls, books, or games. She also visited the Eau Claire Library and brought me lots of books to read. I loved visiting her in town and sleeping over in her room. We went out to lunch, visited the library, and did some shopping. Sometimes, she even took me to the movies!
When I completed all the Maple Drive School grades and qualified to attend the Eau Claire High School, there was no bus service to our area. So, Aunt Helen decided to spend weekdays at the farm instead of in town, so that she could drive me to school. After school, I walked to her office and did schoolwork until she was ready to leave.
Some of my neighbors and fellow schoolmates weren’t able to attend high school. That was really sad for them. I loved school … everything about it … being with kids … learning … I didn’t even mind taking tests.
I was really lucky that Aunt Helen made high school possible for me.
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