Aunt Jessie

17 Nov

SUNDAY MEMORIES

 Judy Wills

JUDY

 My mother’s only sibling, a sister, was my Aunt Jessie.  She never married, and was what we might consider an “old maid.”  My Granny lived with her.

They lived in San Antonio, Texas for many years, and moved to Albuquerque in 1952.  They moved into

2a neat old house that I loved.  It had a sunken living room – with an even more sunken fireplace.  It had what is known as “cove” ceilings – where the wall joins the ceiling in a smooth curve – no sharp angles.  Makes for a really nice effect.

Because she never married, and was responsible for herself as well as her mother, she worked all her life.  She was an accountant/bookkeeper – and a very good one.

Interestingly enough, that’s not all she ever did.  While living in San 3Antonio, she owned and operated a small diner in downtown San Antonio, called The White House Lunch. She had a cook, but I know that Granny made the pies – I still have some of her recipes.  They were so good that people would come in just for a slice of pie – or to purchase the entire pie to take home!

That little diner was even written up in the newspaper 4as the place to go for some of the “best beef stew what am.” While working the diner, Jessie met an Army Nurse, stationed at Fort Sam Houston, and they became very close friends.  This nurse would work the counter at the diner in her off-times.  This same nurse was stationed in Korea and was the one who brought a pearl ring back for me.  They remained life-long friends.

Also while in San Antonio, Jessie, Granny, and my mother all worked at the Rochester Handkerchief Factory.  The owner of the company found that she could make more profit if she purchased the fabric in Ireland, and had the “cut work” done in China, than if she did it all in the U.S.  In order to do that, she traveled to those countries to set up all she needed.  She brought back Chinese mementoes for Jessie – a China doll (which I was NOT allowed to play with!),and three camphor chests.

5Two of the chests are what we would call “foot locker” size, and the larger one is “steamer trunk” size.  All are ornately hand-carved with Chinese scenes on them.  And the inside wood is camphor wood, which is deliciously aromatic, and guaranteed to keep critters away from woolens and other fabrics.

I was always intrigued by those chests, but never had the nerve to look in them – until after Jessie died.  But when we opened them up – we were in for quite a surprise!

 

 

4 Responses to “Aunt Jessie”

  1. DiVoran Lites at 9:56 am #

    It was such a pleasure reading this. I hope we’re getting a part two in order to find out what was in some of the chests. You could slip in the story about when Granny made a chocolate pie for the family later and forgot the sugar. I love your family stories.

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  2. Onisha Ellis at 2:38 pm #

    I wish I could have met Aunt Jessie. I would love to have a blanket box just like that one!

    Like

  3. Louise Gib son at 7:58 am #

    What an amazing woman. The only word I can come up with to describe her is “strong”. The beautiful ornate chest brings to mind the chest that my mother had where she kept quilts, etc. Thanks for sharing, Judy.

    Like

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