Saturday, March 22, 2008

Aunt LaMerle

When My sister Ouida died at Christmastime, she left written instructions to notify our aunts LaMerle and Ruth, the only surviving siblings out of seven for our mother.

Dear Aunt LaMerle: We saw the news about the tornado in Prattville and were concerned. I am glad to hear it was not any closer to you. I am sending you two articles from my internet website. One is about my sister Ouida. The other is about your sister Adelaide.

Dear Nephew: I enjoyed both articles. Your mom may have been born in Prattville. I'm not sure. My sisters Esther and Evelyn were born in Coosa County. The rest of us were born in Elmore County. Mama, who was born in Eufaula and reared in Prattville, did not get back to Prattville until I was ten years old. At that time Ouida was five. When I was eleven, your mom and dad, Adelaide and W.C. moved to Atlanta. I will never forget the morning Mama and I walked across the River Bridge to see Ouida, her first grandchild and my first niece! Mama was eighteen years older than Adelaide, and Adelaide was eighteen years older than I. Fortunately, Ouida enjoyed playing with me, and so I was never jealous of her. Adelaide took care of me when I was born, so I loved her like she was my mother. She and W.C. were dating when I was born, so I also loved him like a brother. Adelaide told me lies about W.C. and my other sisters. I could not believe such things about him, so I asked them. They said not so. When Adelaide and W.C. divorced, we continued to love him as our family; after all we were the only sisters and brothers he had. I have only been using my computer one month. Up front I can tell you are liberal, and I am very conservative. You don’t try to shock me, and I won’t try to change you! Deal? You have two aunts left, Ruth, who has dementia very bad, and me, who has it only slightly.

Dear Aunt LaMerle: I would never try to shock you on purpose, even if I am a liberal. I do, however, try to tell the truth, which can sometimes be shocking.
My blog about my mother, your sister, was absolutely the truth, with only selected emphasis, for entertainment value. You may be right that Mother was born in the county rather than in Prattville. My birth certificate names Prattville as her place of birth, but that does not make it correct, only official. Mother told lies about Daddy to everyone I know of. Daddy was no saint, as I can testify as an eye-witness. He was, however, my Daddy, and I do have good and special memories of him. I know for a fact that he thought of all the Varner brothers and sisters as his family and that he liked and respected your husband Max Milton greatly. Please e-mail me anytime you feel like it. I would love to hear from you, whatever is on your mind, news of your children and grand children, memories of growing up with your brothers and sisters, each one special to me.

Dear Nephew: One time I went to Evelyn’s while Max was in Korea. She came to Prattville on the bus. She drove us to Fla. in my little Henry J. I had Kathy who was two and Mike who was 6 months. At that time I only drove in Prattville. After a
month I got homesick. I called Adelaide and told her. She and W.C. talked it
over, and they decided it would be better if he came so he could drive. Not only did they want me to be satisfied, but they were taking care of Max's family while he was at war. We have six grand-daughters five great-grandsons and two great-granddaughters. They call me G.G. The two older boys are adopted Hispanic. They are showered with love as much as the blood ones.

Dear Aunt LaMerle: I absolutely remember your Henry J, as well as your visit to us while Uncle Max was in the Korean War. Where does the name G.G. come from? You probably noticed that I write my blog under the name of Paw Paw Bill. That is what my four-year old grandson Chance calls me. Blood is not thicker than love. Maybe I am not the only liberal in the family.

Dear Nephew: G.G. stands for great-grandmother. As I mentioned, I was not much of a driver. Prattville was very small. When I would come to Atlanta, your Mom would want me to drive her to church. After letting her out, I would travel across Atlanta with fear and trembling. She didn't understand that one needed to know a little in advance which way one would be turning. Nor did I ever train her to tell me until it was almost too late. She would say, "You turn up here." I would ask her, "Right or left?" She would fling which ever arm was appropriate. One Friday afternoon she decided she needed to go to the 10 Prior St. Building to get W. C.'s check. She, Martha, Kathy and I loaded up and took off. Mind you I had never even driven in Montgomery. We got downtown a little before five. Adelaide said, "No need to park. Just go around the block." To this day I have not seen the 10 Prior St. Building again. I was in rush hour traffic, in the middle lane, scared to death. I went about twelve miles out of town, where I could turn around. I would ask your sister Martha if she recognized anything. Of course not-- she rode the streetcar everywhere she went. Finally I saw the capitol and worked my way to it. The last time I came to Atlanta, your mother wanted me to take her to the farmer’s market out by the airport. Martha and Ouida said they refused to take her anywhere, unless they knew the way.

Dear Aunt LaMerle:

My Mother never did learn to drive a car, though she loved to give directions.

Copyright 2008 by William C. Cotter


Tina said...

Miss Violet never learned to drive either. Once when I was much younger and braver, I decided to give her a driving lesson. She got the brake and the accelerator (neither of which she could see because of the girth of her tummy) mixed up and just about scared me witless.
That was her first and last lesson.

Mary said...

Hi Bill, Mary Stuckey here. I read your last post and wanted to let you know that I also have ties to Prattville. My mother was born and raised there and my Grandfather (George Grant) was sheriff of Autauga County for many years during my youth. I still have a cousin living there on the family land off the Selma Highway. We will have to sit down soon and talk about Prattville. I'm sure my kin knows your kin.

LaMerle said...

Dear Bill, The world gets smaller. Sheriff Grant's sister, Mrs. Fike, was a good friend of your grandmother. She lived across the street from Mama. I remember the Grants had three daughters, Elisabeth, Evelyn and Ann. The relative on the Selma Highway was Mrs. Hamner. She was Mrs. Grants sister. I would like to know which daughter your friend belongs to. That is known as old Prattville. There has been such growth in Prattville in the last twenty years, that I hardly know any one anymore. It seems I remember that Annette's father was in law practice with a man who lived around the street from us in the mid '40s. I can't remember the name. You ask about the Goldens. All I have been able to find out about their past was that grandpa came to Prattville when he was nine years old with an older brother, then twenty years old. Grandpa went to work in the cotton mill. The write up when he died said he knew more about the cotton mill than anyone else in Prattville. He would leave home for months; grandma and the cotton mill would take him back. I reasoned that he knew how to work on the machines or else they would not have put up with him. They would have replaced him if he had been spinning yarn or one of the jobs that was easy to do. Mama said he would stay drunk when he left. He was probably an alcoholic.


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