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By Linda Emley
Every spring when April showers bring May flowers, I’m reminded of my great Aunt Mae. She lived across the street from us when I was growing up and I have many memories of her.
She was born May 5, so I always get nostalgic when her birthday rolls around.
Since it’s that time of year again, I thought it would be nice to share a few “Aunt Mae” stories. She was a tough old lady, but she had several good reasons for being the person she was.
She was born to Ida Bowman and John Hollar in Ray County May 5, 1898 and died June 16 in 1977. I didn’t get to attend her funeral because I was a poor Navy wife living in Norfolk,Va. Without the closure of a funeral, it took me awhile to realize she had really moved on from this world.
She helped raise my dad and always thought of him like a son because she never had any children of her own. She married my dad’s uncle Jim Morgan, so we weren’t really related by blood, but I always considered her to be like a grandmother to me.
I can’t say I always liked her because she was a little hard on us, but I later understood why.
Since she grew up in the Depression, she always saved things that needed to be pitched. I’m a collector who doesn’t like throwing things away, but she even made me look good. My mother would pitch out an old dress and Aunt Mae would dig it out of the trash and use it.
Aunt Mae raised her own chickens for eggs and I didn’t like it when she made me gather up the eggs. More than once, I found a black snake in a nest when I reached in to pull out an egg. She had one old hen that tried to start her own nest in the barn’s hay loft.
She would send me out to look for her so we could gather up her eggs. I thought that was more fun than the normal egg collecting. Aunt Mae had two banty roosters that would chase us around the farm. I was scared of those roosters, but I was still mad when I found out that she made soup out of them in the end. She always made her own chicken soup because she said that the soup you bought in a can was made from tough old roosters, so I never understand why it was OK for her to make soup out of her roosters.
When I got old enough to drive, I would take her to town in her little blue Nova. She was a total backseat driver. One time she made me stop in the middle of the road and wait for a semi-truck to drive over the little narrow bridge we had to cross on highway 13 north of Richmond. The only thing worst than that bridge, was taking her to Lexington and trying to get across the Missouri River bridge.
My Uncle Jim died in 1967 and she buried him at the Wakenda Cemetery. Somewhere along the way she decided to move him to Memory Gardens Cemetery in Richmond. She left their original tombstone at Wakenda, so I’m sure 50 years from now someone will have a hard time figuring out where Mae and Jim Morgan are really buried. Maybe they will find this story online and learn a little more about my dear aunt and uncle.
One of my favorite memories of them was how Uncle Jim would sit in front of the TV and ignore Aunt Mae. He would turn his hearing aid up and get real close to the TV so he couldn’t hear her yelling at him from the kitchen. I guess they were a typical old married couple because they each had their own bedroom and only had to be together while eating at the kitchen table.
I think they were happy with their little world, but who really knows?
She made homemade wine from the grapes that grew in her yard. I remember her taking me to town so I could buy her some balloons. She put them on top of her wine jugs and the balloons would swell up and then go back down when it was time to cork it off.
When Aunt Mae got old, my mother helped take care of her. One day my mom asked me to fix Aunt Mae some mashed potatoes. I used too much milk, which made the mashed potatoes a little runny but she kept telling me how good they were.
I could write a whole book on her, but I will settle for her pictures in my photo album and keep the rest of her memories tucked away in my heart. Happy Birthday Aunt Mae, you were one tough old cookie.