My husband and I don’t have family nearby; his relatives are mainly in the Buffalo, New York area and mine are scattered from Kansas to Texas to Arizona. One of the unexpected bonuses of working at Trinity is that I get to meet and get to know people here. I get to connect with people who are at all different stages of life, from my friend Bella, whose sunny ten-year-old exuberance shines light into my world as we sit together on Sunday mornings; to 91-year old Sue, who is one of our multi-talented, multi-tasking volunteers whose gifts and talents enrich Trinity in a variety of ways.
One day recently I had the chance to chat with Sue about her earliest childhood memories related to gardening, one of her passions. She easily recalled her role in helping her mother plant green beans, strong beans and lima beans. She explained the process of “canning” the beans (in glass jars) and storing them in the ‘cold cellar’ across the lane so they could eat fresh vegetables even in the winter. In the ‘regular’ cellar under the house, you’d find root vegetables, like potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots--- ready for the taking, year ‘round. She described the smokehouse where cuts of pork (butchered from her siblings’ 4-H pigs) would hang, before being wrapped in cloth and transferred to an upstairs room in their house, cold enough without electricity to keep the meat fresh. She said cheese and candy were special treats to be purchased from the store in town, about a mile and half’s walk away. Milk came from the neighbor’s cows which were allowed to ‘board’ at Sue’s parents’ property, though young Sue didn’t care for the taste of raw milk.
Sue’s eyes shone when she described to me the clothes her mother sewed for her, as a youngster and then as a young woman headed off to college. The 6-piece wardrobe her mother cut and sewed by hand “made me feel like a princess,” says Sue. She offered to show me the one piece still in existence: a corduroy jacket she still wears (!!!)
Maybe the most surprising discovery of that particular conversation was when Sue told me how she met her husband in Venezuela: Oh, he wasn’t Venezuelan, she said,” he was a good ole Kansan.” “Kansas?!?!” I asked, incredulous. “Sue,” I told her,” I AM FROM KANSAS!” She giggled. I asked where he was from, and she thought out loud, “Not Salina…” she began. “Sue,” I said,” I went to high school in Salina! We are probably related!”
And that’s how I gained an Aunt Sue.