This weeks Sunday Scribblings prompt is Guides. I decided to tell you about my Auntie Marion.
Auntie Marion was my father's only sister. She was a real old fashioned lady who lived in Merriwa in the hunter valley which was my Dad's home town. She was a real special old lady and I like to think I am a bit like her in some ways.
I loved her, she was beyond worrying about the latest fashion and she always looked clean and tidy but chose to wear what she liked in her own style. She had amazing long hair which she wore plaited down her back, the only style I ever saw her wear, even in photos of her when she was young.
She lived in Merriwa all her life and knew everyone and their business and inter-connections in the area, which is something I always thought was special because moving around as I did as a child I wanted that.
I think some of my tastes come from her because she loved to fossick around collecting rocks and bits of mis shaped wood and animals, which she kept around the outside of her house to decorate her garden.
She lived on the river bank in an old slab hut that her husband built for them as newly weds and her yard was full of chooks, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, dogs, piglets, sheep, birds, mostly caged parrots of different types which she taught to whistle and talk. The house was a big novelty to visit as I could do things that I loved like collect the eggs, feed the animals, talk to the birdies and explore along the river bank. When ever I went there the first thing I used to do was go out and check the animals and the yard to make sure nothing had changed too much, because everything else in my life changed often.
Her house though was something special. It was made from hand hewn 1/2 rounded off slabs of wood, probably about 12 to 15 inches wide that were positioned up and down instead of cross ways along the walls. There was caulking between the slabs, then many layers of old newspapers were pasted on the inside of the walls for insulation then that was covered by wall paper. The roof was tin and the ceilings inside were draped with calico. In later years the local school children used to visit her house and small acreage on school excursions to see" how things were done in the olden days", which she used to laugh about.
My auntie was a hard worker and used to sell eggs and poultry to the towns people after killing and dressing them herself. She raised pigs and sheep for other people for Christmas. She always won prizes for her pickles and jams and cakes at the local show. I still use her mustard pickle recipe. She also did the washing for the town pubs and her clothes line used to stretch proudly across her yard. It was made of tall sticks stuck upright with heavy rocks and wire, laden with snowy white sheets flapping in the wind. A challenge on days of wind and rain to keep everything out of the dirt getting them on and off the line. She also used to clean and house keep at halls after parties and for local people around the town and clean the church. I learn't lots of things off her.
In the afternoons when I was there she would sit out on the front veranda with me between her legs and she would brush my hair in the sun, which I really loved. I used to have nice hair, wavy and shiny, coppery coloured then, it was the only thing at that age that I dared think was nice about my looks, and I think she knew I needed a bit of a boost. Auntie Marion was the sort of person who took in lame ducks, animals and people who needed help. That was one of the things so special about her. She would never turn some one away if they needed her.
When she was a child, being the eldest of the family and sister to 6 brothers the towns people used to say she would grow up lop sided because she always had a baby on her hip lugging it around and looking after it. She only had one child of her own, who still lives in Merriwa.
Oh there are so many stories here. I used to love playing with her grand children, the eldest one was only a few years younger than me and we got along well, we used to hang around down the river and climb around the rocks and make dams between the little runnels through the rocks, but we used to get in trouble for going down there as it was though of as dangerous.. The toilet at her house was out in the chook yard and was a wooden hut with a pan which I was scared to go out to because one of her roosters used to chase and attack me. Auntie Marion chopped its head off and I got upset because I thought it was my fault it got killed.
So many lovely memories.
Auntie Marion died of a heart attack and was buried on my 10Th wedding anniversary. She gave me a photo of my Dad and his twin brother when they were 6 yrs old which I cherish. I also have some of my Dad's early school books and Sunday school prizes and his very first job reference which was as a cabin boy on the railways, given to my by her. I also have a white damask table cloth that was my grand mothers which is yellowed with age and brittle but I keep it for sentimental reasons, my grandmother died before I was born. A plant that I have kept growing and dividing which has moved with me to every house I have lived in and is still going strong, a big aspidistra. My treasures.
It is strange, but when I was at her house I always felt watched and protected by something, I often wondered if it was her mother, my grand mother watching me.