Friday, July 25, 2014

Aunt Ett and Uncle Johnny

One of the great memories from my childhood was visiting our Great-aunt Ett and Great-uncle Johnny Owens who lived in Butternut—a tiny community of 3 or 4 houses and a creamery. These were our "Laura Ingalls Wilder" relatives because they didn't have electricity or running water, and yet Aunt Ett made the most delicious meals with her wood-burning cook stove. It was always an adventure going to their home.

Groundcherry sauce
I remember coming into their house from the back door, entering the kitchen and seeing Aunt Ett pumping water from the little handle on the island in the center of the kitchen. She was elderly and stooped over, with deep creases in her face. Her gray hair, which was probably very long, was wrapped into a bun at the back of her head. She would be wearing a print dress with an apron and walked with the aid of a walker. A home-made pie would be sitting on the counter. Often she would ask my sister to pick out a jar of pickles from her pantry to go along with our lunch. There would be canned jams, jellies, and ground cherry sauce in there, too. Next to the pantry was a gun cabinet. My Uncle Johnny once let me shoot his BB gun at his pigs. I suppose he had no worries because the BBs couldn't penetrate their thick skin, and I probably had rotten aim.

Uncle Johnny was a short, thin man, with a generous smile. I don't remember his occupation, but I know he raised a few pigs. He had an old car - a model A or a model T, which was usually stored in the garage. We kids would peek in the garage window to have a look at it, but had to be careful where we stepped because there were times when snakes were spotted in the ferns that grew around the outside of the building.

One of our favorite things to play with was the two steel-wheeled cart. My brother pulled us around the yard on its flat bed. In their living room there was an upright piano and a typewriter which sat on a typewriter table. They let us play with both of these. What a treat that was!

The bedroom had a thick curtain which served as a door. We were allowed to put our coats on the bed, but then we were told to come out. I think there may have been an upstairs, but that was out of bounds.

These simple, dear relatives are no longer around, but oh, how I wish they were. My kids missed out on seeing how these hardworking folks lived and loved. By the way, one of their grandsons went on to become one of our Navy's admirals. He is retired Admiral William Owens.


Pat said...

What a great account of your memories at Aunt Ett and Uncle Johnnie. I have many of the very same ones. While reading this I wondered if Admiral would enjoy reading this about his grandparents. Also wondered what my neices and nephews would remember or write about me.

I Love Barbershop said...

So, so many great memories of visiting Aunt Ett and Uncle Johnny.
They had a two holer out house with a crescent moon cut out on the door.
And like you said, one of the best pantry's I have ever seen.
Absolutely loved going there.
Thanks for the memories!