School Teacher's Ways

  My Aunt 'Nita was a school teacher. She taught English and Latin at a high school in Ohio. She never married. Each summer she would spend taking classes at one or another of Ohio's Colleges and Universities. She took care of her aging parents, my grandmother who I met once and my grandfather who I met twice. Crestline Ohio was a world away from San Diego California...a world populated with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents I only knew through black and white photographs.
  When I was in high school I read "Good Morning Miss Dove" and from that time on I thought of my Aunt 'Nita as Miss Dove. When she retired in 1965 and moved to San Diego I realized that she really was like Miss Dove. Prim and proper Aunt 'Nita was devoted to her students, and many who had graduated years ago were still in contact with her. Several even came out to visit her at her new home in San Diego.
  In 1970 Aunt 'Nita moved to Oregon. Her older sister and niece lived there but mainly the move was made because her school teacher's pension would stretch a bit further. When she moved she left a box of photographs she thought I might enjoy looking through...and I did.
  The last time I saw Aunt 'Nita was in 1994. She was moving into a retirement home and needed help with sorting through and packing her belongings and my mother was not up to the task. I knew my Aunt had been having some memory problems and glad that she was not going to be living alone.
  As we sorted and packed and chatted about this and that I realized that things were a bit worse than just "some memory problems". One cupboard was filled bottles of ketchup another with boxes of cherry Jello.
  Upon seeing my reaction Aunt 'Nita's response was, "I never know when someone might call together a game of Bridge."
  But the moment that endeared her to me most was when I went through her liquor cupboard filled with old half empty bottles of liquor.
  "Aunt 'Nita we need to empty these." I said and she agreed. I poured the liquor down the kitchen sink drain and began to gather the bottles to take out to the trash bin.
  "You can't do that!" She whispered hoarsely
  "Why?" I asked
  "Because what will the neighbors think?" Then she straightened her back and sincerely said in her school teacher's way, "Many a reputation has been ruined over a Bridge table."
  The painting below is from and old black & white photo taken in the 1940's and found in the box left by my Aunt 'Nita. On the table, near the jar of pickles is a silver flask...Love you Aunt 'Nita!
Aunt 'Nita's Picnic/1973/Oil on Canvas 24"w x 18"h
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