Monday, May 29, 2017

One Military Relative

This Memorial Day seems more solemn than others have to me. Many people are naming specific relatives who died in military service. This is something I put together for another reason but thought I'd share the story of my great Uncle John:

My maternal grandmother’s sister, Dorothea, was a widow by the time I met her. Her husband, John, served in World War I and was mustard-gassed. When he came home from the war, he worked as a plumber, but the effects of the mustard gas eventually killed him in the 1930s. 

When I knew Aunt Dorothea, she lived in La Porte, Indiana, and she was one independent woman. She had worked her way up to a supervisor at the telephone company, which was one of the few places that would hire and promote women. She also owned her own home which is quite an accomplishment for a single woman in the 1950s. I remember her as smoking Lucky Strikes, just a funny, vibrant, outspoken woman. She introduced me to tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread. 

When we would visit, there were no toys and I would amuse myself by sitting on her enclosed sun porch in the front of her house, in one of those green wicker chairs looking through her stacks of Readers Digests. I never read the articles, just the little bits of jokes and anecdotes.

But back to her husband John.   
She had a framed photo on this little table outside the bathroom door, on a crocheted doily, of her sitting on a swing and Uncle John pushing her. I was fascinated by that photo. I got up my courage once and asked her why she didn’t get married again, and she just laughed as if that were a really stupid question and told me she already had the best husband she could have had and didn’t want or need another.