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My Aunt Net
My Aunt Net was one of the favorite persons in my life. She was my mother’s older sister, who lived in Kirksville. She was a petite and delicate lady and a devout Christian. She was a member of the First Baptist Church, which was only two blocks from the small boarding house she operated at the corner of Franklin and Harrison Streets.
Aunt Net was divorced for reasons I know not, but she was content living single. She busied herself with keeping the boarding house, tending her garden, and entertaining her grandchildren. I remember her boarders were girls attending the Teacher’s College on the same street. These girls first caught my notice when I was 10-12 years old. I cannot forget how beautiful they all were. One more reason I made every excuse to go to Aunt Net’s house.
When she was not busy in the garden, cleaning house, cooking, or tending children she was sewing, singing, or reading her Bible. Busy though she was, Aunt Net would ride the bus to Edina to visit us. My brother, Donald Ray and I were especially glad to see her because on her way to our house, she passed the Cash Market, a grocery which also specialized in candy. Aunt Net would stop there and buy a sack of good chocolates. Aunt Net knew that the latter two of the family lived a little better life than Donald and I, and Aunt Net always gave the sack to Donald Ray to distribute. I seem to remember Donald and I made out well.
Aunt Net always visited while she helped Mom with her duties, which God knows were enormous. They might have been washing milk bottles, canning green beans, cutting up lard, mending clothes, feeding baby chicks, or doctoring our cuts and bruises. Aunt Net made several special trips to our house to midwife when Mom would have that “Just one more child” which culminated at 12.
When I was 13, the folks brought me to Kirksville to have my tonsils and adenoids removed. This was not done in the hospital, but rather in a house (which is still standing.) North side: 2nd house west on Normal at Baltimore. The only thing I remember about that operation was that Doctor telling me, “Billy, if that ether gets too strong, just take a deep breath and blow it away.” I’ll bet he is still laughing.
From the operating table, they took me to Aunt Net’s to recuperate. Boy what bliss! Aunt Net took such good care of me. Always there with the warm soup and the Aspirin gum, and those college girls would sit on the sofa and talk with me. I really hated it when I was well enough to go home. One of those girls gave me a Dick Tracy watch which I, of course, lost. I spent a whole week there and though physically miserable I was on a social and emotional high.
Contributed by Bill Lewis