When I was younger I used to go visit my Aunt Anna Lemmon. Well, she was actually my great, great Aunt Anna, however, she was just Aunt Anna to us. I always liked visiting my relatives and hearing what they said, and also wandering around and looking at everything. The Aunts, (I had another great, great Aunt, named Lily) lived in orderly, well kept homes with their possessions that they had accumulated over their lifetimes. So, I was used to seeing old (i.e., antique) items and would often be told what they were used for and by whom. There were always fun things to look at, and interesting stories. (Alas, I wish I could remember all their stories).
Aunt Anna’s house was located outside of town on a bend and had a wide wrap around porch (I think that started my fascination with miniature dollhouses with wrap around porches) and had a barn with a fantastic “miniature” black iron” fence surrounding a black walnut tree. This fenced in area always fascinated me, I would go inside it and wonder why the tree was fenced in, where the walnuts so special? I knew that we would collect the walnuts, and my Great Grandmother while she was living would make a mean black walnut nut-bread. (My Grandmother faithfully followed after her, and gave me the recipe, however, it never tasted the same.) Apparently, I must have commented about the fence being pretty short for horses or ponies, or about the special walnuts and was promptly corrected that the fenced area was a “proper croquet” area. After that, I would visualize ladies and gentlemen playing croquet inside the fancy black iron scrolled fencing, in Victorian dresses and garb playing a game of croquet.
At the side door of the home was a plant she called a “money plant“. I had never seen a plant like it. When it dried it was pale, round, and papery with an almost transparent quality. They were quite fun.
The kitchen and dining area was combined, and she had a big hutch with a wide assortment of salt and pepper cellars and shakers along with various tea strainer or brewing baskets, one of which was in the shape of a miniature teapot which I usually wanted to play with. (are you noticing an common interest here?)
There was a steeply curved staircase to get to the two bedrooms upstairs, even being younger, tall and lanky, I remember the awkward turn.
Aunt Anna’s, late husband, whom I only knew as Uncle Bill, was known in the family for his wood-working skills. He produced the tables, chairs, toys, working miniature Grandfather clocks (woohoo) that he gave and/or sold, and at least two (that I’ve seen) detailed inlay tables all from the wood off their property.
I don’t recall exploring the barn, perhaps I wasn’t interested in wandering there, or knowing my Mother, she would have kept me away from the barn with warnings of poison ivy, as I was highly allergic to the stuff. However, it is more likely I was too nosy about what my Mother and Grandmother were talking about with Aunt Anna during our visits.
Most of my recollections of her house come from when we walked through it after Aunt Anna’s death. Both Aunt Anna and Aunt Lily (who had passed earlier and had left her estate to Anna) did not have any children to leave their estates too. Aunt Anna left her estate to my mother and her three siblings (the connection is my maternal grandfather who had died at age 30). The siblings best decided they would distribute the estate by having a sort of “bid” on items they wanted at the estate and then subtract that their share of the value of the estate.
Prior to the days of the “bid”, Mom took me (I can’t recall if my sister went, however she probably did) and we walked throughout the house. Mom wanted to she if there was something that I wanted to remember Aunt Anna by. I choose a wooden vase with some dried money plants in it, a black box from an upstairs bedroom and the miniature teapot brewing basket. I don’t recall if when I moved out if Mom asked for the wooden vase and dried money plants or if I left them, however, I have the other items, along with some of Uncle Bill’s handy work, a miniature Grandfather clock (one he did not get finished), a Chinese checkers board he made for my Grandfather, and a side table.
Part of my Clutter Cleaning Process A.K.A. C.C. is going through things that I have accumulated that were Aunt Anna’s, my Grandmother’s and my Mother’s and other family members and I will have to decide what to let go off.
Part of this process is also about finding things. I came upon this piece of paper that I wrote in 1973 (ahem, when I was younger) at the time they were closing Aunt Anna’s house.
The Lemmon Estate
The grass is green and blowing with a breeze, of an early summer evening.
Horses of every color are running in the wind, before they are hitched and leaving.
The sun is red and gold, a sight to behold, and everyone is dreaming.
The children run here and there, saying catch me if you can, the shine on their face is beaming.
The house is white and green, tall and kind of lean, as it reaches for the heavens above it.
It brightens with it’s lights, as the sun is sinking right, and on the porch, everyone can be seen.
I glaze at this sight, of peacefulness at night, and wish that I could live there.
I could sit all say, without being afraid, and never want to move away.
I open my eyes to catch a better glimpse, of all these marvelous things.
I strain and strain my mind, but nothing still remains, as I go to turn off the alarm ring.
Today, I will see, the place of which I’ve dreamed.
But now it is lonely and crumbling.
I look at that old house, and move my eyes about, but dirt is all I see around me.
Ah, memories. Things are just things, however, you can still keep the memories.