Tuesday, October 22, 2013

England: Sweet Aunt Flo

One of the treasures I brought home from England with me was the memory of my Aunt Flo.

Aunt Flo was the wife of my late Uncle Ted. I had met her in the late 1970's when they came to America for a visit; she had broken her leg just before the trip but came on anyway because, as she said, she wasn't about to miss the opportunity, and who knew when she might have another chance?

(at the Dog and Duck pub--or was it the Duck and Dog? Whichever, it was a fine place to eat.)

Now in her early 80's, Aunt Flo gets around beautifully in her home and keeps it as neat and clean as a pin. She still cooks, too, and goes for outings with her sons or her friends. Although her heart has caused some concern in the past few years, she still manages to do the things she wants to do.

Stories flowed whenever we were with her during our visit, which was just about every evening. Tea was always ready and piping hot, and cake was always on hand too. We would sit and sip our tea and listen to the memories coming alive in Aunt Flo's voice.

Born in London, she was one of the children evacuated during World War II as the threat of bombings became very real. Children were sent off with their name on a placard around their neck, and shuffled off the train into schools, churches or village halls. Locals would then come and look them over and decide which child they would take in. In Aunt Flo's words, it was like they were picking a kitten or a puppy. "Oh, I don't want that one, it has a runny nose, but I'll take that one, she has a nice smile." Can you imagine how the children must have felt? The picture below is from the British newspaper The Telegraph, and looks pretty much like the situation Aunt Flo described.

A helper at Paddington Station in London fixing a label onto a child being evacuated from London during the war.

But it was this journey north into Cambridgeshire that brought Flo to Ted's neighborhood, and into our family. She was working in a pub as a cook by the time she met him, and he was working on a farm. Despite her mother's disapproval, Flo began seeing Ted and eventually they married. Their marriage lasted until just a few years ago, when my Uncle Ted passed away. She misses him keenly; he was the love of her life. Now her two sons keep close watch over her, and she continues to enjoy every minute of her days.

We had such a good time with her. In the photo above, we are all heading into the Dog and Duck pub for a good fish and chips dinner. My aunt was always ready to go wherever we wanted to go, and was great company every time.

I have a video of Aunt Flo singing with my cousin John but my computer and my phone are not on speaking terms so until I can outsmart one or the other, I will not be able to share it. I am so glad to have it though, as I can once again hear her lovely voice and laugh.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Mimi Foxmorton said...

What a lovely, lovely story.
And always a pleasure to pop over here in the wee hours and make a memory with you.

Have a glorious week!


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