Before everyone started typing “LOL” in their texts when they wanted to say “Laughing Out Loud,” LOL meant something equally adorable: “Little Old Lady.”
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The purpose of this blog is to collect the stories of LOLs who have left unwitting legacies. Every family has an older relative, dead or alive, whose name has taken on a special meaning. Read more….
Duane Hayworth was in the Navy. He would ride his bicycle around Boulder, every day, like clockwork, in his sandals and socks. He had a pool table, but if you wanted to play you had to take the slightly damp laundry off of it and find the balls. Our Aunt Peggy seemed to do all the work outside and inside the home, and sometimes brought newfangled snacks from her job at a store, like Goober & Grape and Shake-a-Puddin‘. He had mammoth forearms, tattooed, and in my mind was Popeye. He could draw a good Popeye, too. “I wanted to be an artist,” he’d say, in that funny jaw-jutted way of his.
We called him Uncle Waywee because we couldn’t say Duane as two-year-olds, but he may also have had a speech impediment—or something may have happened in the War. He sounded something like Carl from Slingblade. Whenever we went to his house, he’d pull out his pocket knife and whittle off a hunk of Longhorn cheese. And he’d say,
“Want some cheeb?”
Now we think of him whenever we slice cheese.
—from Dave and Dan Caven
Ruby Walser was the wife of a physician who raised five children in Pasadena, California. Her husband was a specialist in Tuberculosis, and they actually moved to the West Coast from New York for a better climate, because of health issues.
Ruby loved to sing, and loved to play cards with her friends. Her family had all the appearances of wealth without really having any, since patients would pay for their treatment with valuables such as silverware and other fine heirlooms. She and her kids often spotted Albert Einstein riding his bike on the way to Cal Tech.
Ruby had a down-to-earth way about her, and would often tell her kids, “If you’re farting like that, it’s time to go to the bathroom.” Unfortunately, she was on the way to the bathroom herself when she died. She was playing cards with her girlfriends and excused herself. She had a heart attack on the stairs.
We tell the story of my Grandma Ruby’s death so often for a laugh that we now refer to it as “Story 203-1B” in our family. Even our kids and friends all now say,
“I’ve got to go see Grandma Ruby.”
—from Liz Walser
Sophie (holding coffee pot) with Theresa and cake at a family visit
Sophie Hartmann boarded a ship to America from Bavaria on January 15, 1931. The liberal democracy of Germany was collapsing under the weight of extremist propaganda and she, like her sister Therese, wanted nothing to do with Hitler. Therese, and her Swabian husband, Max Luibrand, sponsored Sophie’s immigration to Detroit.
Sophie remained a spinster all her life, but lived the American dream. She had an independent life, paying her own rent on her own one-bedroom apartment by working as a domestic servant. She was able to purchase her own set of silverware, china, and pearls. She spent her Sundays visiting Therese and Max’s family, and doting on their five children, one of which was my mother.
Visits “back East” were never complete without a special day with Tante Sophie. She took us to Bob-Lo Island many times. The thing my brothers and I liked best about Tante was when we were hot or tired or thirsty or arguing with each other, and she’d open her purse and pull out a piece of Krystall Eis candy. These clear hard peppermints from Germany, wrapped in squeaky cellophane (that always went back in her purse) had a unique flavor that calmed and refreshed us at the same time.
Whenever there was a family gathering, there was always a “Kaffe und Küchen” ritual, where coffee was brewed in a percolator on the stove, and a tart, cake, or pie was sliced into. When Tante was served a slice, it was always “too big,” no matter what size it was. Over the years we all learned to ask for a “Tante Sophie-Sized Piece,” which meant half of what you thought was the smallest portion possible.
Tante Sophie’s legacy reminds me sweetness is about quality, not quantity.
—from Kristen Caven
Filed under Aunties, Food