Saturday, October 24, 2009

Aunt Ella

 Once a year we would all go to Canada to visit Grandpa Swareys and all of Daddy's brothers and sisters. It was something we all really looked forward to. Grandpas had such a cozy little house that was built beside Uncle Solomons house. Aunt Susie and Ella still lived with them. Grandma was short and plump and very cheerful. I loved visiting with her because she had a way to talk that made you feel like you were equals and could share everything that was on your mind without the fear of being secretly laughed at.

Susie would spend most of the time cleaning vigorously or sewing quilt tops. She would let me snip the threads that held the string of sewn patches but that wasn't nearly as fun as spending time with Grandma or Aunt Ella.

Ella was not your typical aunt. As a teenager she was a victim of the dreaded disease, polio and suffered devastating effects because of it. But she was always cheerful, delightfully humorous and and all around pleasure to know. A definite favorite to her nieces and nephews. She always had the way of viewing life from the perspective of the age group she was mingling with.

I couldn't wait to show baby Mahlon to her. I knew she would love him as much as I did. When we arrived everyone came out to welcome us and I wasn't disappointed at how she and Grandma fussed over Mahlon. We unloaded the van and sent the driver to a neighbor who was willing to share a room in their house for him. It wasn't long before more vans came bringing more of Daddy's brothers and their families from several different states. The noise that came with them was delightful and we cousins went to play leaving the grownups to their grownup conversations.

The day passed swiftly and the next morning brought the rest of Daddy's siblings for a family reunion. What a noisy gathering it was. The women were cooking loads of food and the men were each cranking an ice cream freezer and we cousins were having the time of our lives. I don't remember what we had to eat except when it came time be served the ice cream. Seven of us girls approached the line of ice cream freezers where the uncles were doling out portions of all different kinds of flavors, by the time we reached the end of the line our plates were piled high. We sat on a bench under a shade tree and started eating, but had barely made a dent in the mountains of ice cream when we were simply too full to eat another bite. We sat there in pure misery trying to eat it. Taking our plates to our mothers never crossed our minds as we had all been taught to eat everything that we had been served. Finally one of us got a bright idea.... at this point it should be brought to attention that Grandpas did not have indoor plumbing. They had a nice little building that accommodated four.

We casually walked toward the outhouse bearing our heaping plates of ice cream and hurriedly scraped it down the holes. We were ready to leave when who should appear at the door but aunt Ella. She relieved our guilt by saying, "They gave you way too much. Didn't they?" She then proceeded to collect our empty plates and took them inside to be washed. She never told anyone what we did.


  1. Those that extend grace to us carve a permanent place in our hearts. I think you have much of her in you. :)

  2. what a wonderful aunt! it's always nice as a kid having an adult that is so understanding.

  3. My babies name is Ella! :) How nice to have a fun, understanding aunt & grandma!!

  4. Such nice and warm family memories you shared!

  5. Your Aunt Ella was jewel. I got to knew her when I lived in Ontario and whenever we were at the same place she always took a special interest in me.

  6. My favorite thing about home-made ice cream was licking the paddle. The ice cream on the paddle always tasted best.

  7. your stories are so sweet and bring back simuliar memories of my childhood. thanks for the wonderful stories!!!

  8. Another great story. Aunt Ella sounds like a gem.

  9. I enjoy reading about your family memories. Each story is so full of love and warmth. Thank you so much for sharing. I always enjoy my visit with you. Karen

  10. I so enjoy reading your memoirs of yore. Today, tho, particularly the outhouse ... when we travel they are one thing that I enjoy getting pics of. They bring back memories of our cousins that had a 2-holer & our shock!!! of having to use 'such a thing' & 'what those catalogs were used for'. Yucky! We were mortified.

    TY for sharing these wonderful memoirs of your life, before.

    Have a warm, wonderful week. TTFN~ Marydon

  11. I enjoy reading your stories SO much! Thank you for sharing!
    I do have to ask you...You have shared recipes before and my FAVORITE is the cheese bars. ( I think that's what they were called.) DELICIOUS!
    Can you share - what is it the Amish add to their egg noodles that makes them so divine? There is an amish bakery down the road from me and I can purchase the noodles-but do not know how to make the sauce they put them in!
    Thank you so much!


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