Friday, November 9, 2007

Here's to you, Helen

My mothers' family, by her own admission was "odd". Not her immediate family, but her relatives on her father's side. I believe that her father, Ferd, was the only sibling to have children.... that's not so odd,,, but kinda unusual. My mom had two uncles that according to her, spoke very seldom, never married and died young. Of course, I am only repeating what she has told me, they all had passed away long before I was born..... I did not know any of this family except my Great Aunt Helen. Aunt Helen seemed very old and very odd to me as a child. She lived with her husband, known to me as "Uncle Ted", in a big house in a nearby small town. Since they were housebound, we visited them at their home on holidays. I remember their house as a dark, yet fascinating place, everything was SO OLD.... and they had a player piano!

Despite the player piano, visiting them was not my favorite thing to do...Uncle Ted was not so scary, but Aunt Helen, oh ,,, she had a witchy look about her, long nose, flowing white hair, dark eyes, and always in her house dress and bedroom slippers. I have heard that she was rather glamorous in her youth,,, but the bloom was definitely off the rose by this time....

They were good to us, always had presents and huge bags of candy for each of us,,, but I was still afraid of Aunt Helen, She never left the house.... a recluse of sorts. Well, neither one of them could walk very well..... every now and then Aunt Helen or Uncle Ted would be hospitalized for something or another, then my Mom and her sister would scurry around, finding nice clothes for all the children, in case of a possible funeral. And they would always get better, and back to the house they went. ( I was an adult when they finally did pass away)

My Mom tells a story about her Aunt and Uncle, before they were housebound, Uncle Ted would drive the 8 or 9 miles to the tavern that the family owned. In my mind, I imagine him driving, with a long line of cars behind his,,,, he walked very slowly, he probably drove at a similar speed. Uncle Ted would go in the tavern for a beer, but Aunt Helen would not get out of the car! So, he brought his wife's drink out to her.... this was a daily event, so I'm told. Aunt Helen's drink of choice was Kimmel. Kümmel, also called kummel or kimmel, is a sweet, colorless liqueur flavored with caraway seed, cumin, and fennel.

Last night at knit night, Fluoride and Betty informed me that they were planning a shopping trip to a nearby upscale clothing store and I was going along, whether I wanted to go or not!

I hate shopping! I told them I would go along only if I could stay in the car and drink Kimmel, like my Aunt Helen.....They could bring items of clothing out to the car for me, if they wanted to.!

Well, this led to a discussion of Kimmel,and before I knew it, Fluoride skipped over to the liquor store and came back with a bottle of the very stuff! I rather like the taste, but it is tooo sweet, I think. Everyone at knit night drank a toast of Kimmel to my Great Aunt Helen, may she rest in peace.

I am still refusing to get out of the car


Lynda said...

Oh my gosh, that is a great story!
What do you suppose Aunt Helen thought of having one small glass of kimmel at a time? Just a little restorative?? My dad kept kimmel in the house lots of times but I must say that wan't anything that We Girls (my sisters & I) were willing to sip!! Knit night is always so interesting! Wish I could have been there...

Anonymous said...

Nice story , Michele and almost all just as it was. My Father had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. THree of the sisters married but only two had children. Two of the brothers married but only my Father had children. My Father was the oldest in the family. Hope i am not boring the rest of you who are reading this. The rest of the family history is so true!!! I was the youngest grandchild. My sister and I inherited the farm at the Junction60/67 from our Aunt helen and Uncle Ted when they passed on. If you travel east on HYw.60 you will see the sign---ZIMMER HOMESTEAD FARM SINCE 1860. That was my great grandfather's farm--still in the family today. Mercedes(Zimmer) Gehl

Anonymous said...

I still think your really great talent is in your writing ability. Do a book about your family, it would be a best seller for sure. The Kimmel will have to go along on our shopping trip. We need to do a toast by the Homestead sign. By the time we get to Hartford you won't know if we got you out of the car or not.

Anonymous said...

It could very well have been that women were not - legally - allowed in the tavern.

Your aunt was just very determined not to be left out of things.

janeyknitting AT yahoo DOT ca

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