THE OLD MAID
Most people learn what an "OLD MAID" is from a card game.......... the card or person YOU DONT WANT right? I played "OLD MAID" the game without knowing what exactly an "old maid" was for a very long time. It wasn't until I heard my mother reference "Sister" with that label, that it even dawned on me that the term actually meant something other than a name for a game.
I found out that an "Old Maid" is someone that never marries or has children, they are someone that lives alone. That, at least, was what was told to me when I inquired. It was implied to me by the game and the definition ...... as if there were something "wrong" with being an Old Maid , and they always looked "less than desirable" as they were depicted on the cards, and you were a LOSER if you were "stuck with one."
"SISTER" is what we called her, but her name was Charlotte. She was also lovingly named, "Lottie" and "Aunt Lottie" but I didn't remember that fact and was reminded of that recently on facebook.
"Sister" is what my Grandmother called her sister, you see, she was very formal. She called her mom, "mother" her sister "sister" and we were told to call her "grandmother." This tradition or habit is what was handed down to her daughters and ultimately to me............. "Sister" was my Great-Aunt that lived in Arkansas.
I went to Arkansas a few times in my younger years and I don't remember the "specifics" of each visit but I do remember once I got to go with my Grandmother. I don't remember the ride there but I do remember being there at the house. I remember the grand pecan trees in the yard with the biggest pecans I had ever seen! I remember "Uncle Mark" cracking some pecans and that's not all he was good at, he was also good at cracking jokes and he kept Sister and I laughing. I guess Grandmother didn't see the humor in them? I remember going up into the attic with Sister's encouragement. She saved everything and the attic was full of relics from the past. Stacks of newspapers, letters, trunks, and even a small little coat was hanging up there that was one of theirs when they were little. I was always told that everything in the attic was either "junk" or "dry rotted" but to me just looking at everything was like finding buried treasures! :)
Sister was such a good and gentle spirit.
I loved the kitchen in the house. It was small and not "modernized" everything was older and at the time I didn't realize it but would be called "vintage" by todays standards. The only thing I didn't like was the oilcloth / tablecloths on the square, chrome and formica table. I asked Sister why she didn't use a "pretty" tablecloth, and I remember Uncle Mark laughing and Grandmother sternly looking at me........ she said, "they are easier to wipe off." I don't think Sister had "hired help" to do her laundry like my Grandmother did. The kitchen was the "central" room in this large house, its where everyone talked, ate, sat, shucked corn, and cracked pecans. Its the same room that is central in my own house today. No one comes into my house without coming into the kitchen. The house she lived in was the family home and had been inherited by "Sister" the one that never married. It had high ceilings and beautiful furnishings, at least to me........... it even had cool door knobs that I had to reach up to turn............ at the entrance to every room. I remember there were lots of these and also lots of fireplaces being in the house, but I don't recall a fire being burned in them. This house was eventually restored to "high standards" and I believe it is on some Historic Registries too. It was sold to Uncle Mark for $1 by the McCleary Sisters in 1988. I understand that this town is a Ghost Town, there are no children that want to live there. I would like to buy the house still, if no one else wants it in the family, heck I will even pay 10000x the 1988 cost if need be.
She was such a good and gentle spirit.
Sister dressed in dresses. I don't remember seeing her in anything else. Cotton dresses with big square pockets. Most of them had flowers on them or some other symbol of something she liked or a color she prefered. Most of the time I believe she wore an apron over her dress to protect it..... if my memory serves me correctly could bake a wonderful pecan pie. Sister came to visit our house when I was a little girl. She played with me. She called my doll by her right name, "Jelly." and she liked make-believe. She would go into my "pretend" worlds with me, when other adults didn't. This is the person who taught me what paper dolls were! Sister and I would cut out figures from the Sears & Robuck Catalog and then also cut out the clothes with little tabs on the edges so that our dolls could wear the latest fashions! Another activity that Sister introduced to me in the kitchen was the card game of Rummy........Gin Rummy was her favorite. Sometimes she would laugh so much while we played cards and talked that she took a tissue out of her apron pocket and wiped her eyes. She had the "real" laugh of a "real person" the kind that made your shoulders hunch over. It may sound like an oxymoron but she quietly laughed loudly. Sister also taught me two different types of solitaire games. I am guessing that she learned all that she knew from being alone.........how to effective entertain and amuse oneself. Again that is just a guess......... but it kinda fits? I remember how to play the games and card tricks and doodles she taught me and have shown them to most of the children I have loved in my life. I still know how to do them today and hopefully so do my children and grandchildren. I believe I adopted a very valuable and useful skill aka survival tool for my entire life. She also buried treasure in the yard...........pennies, nickels and dimes. She let me "find" the treasures and made me gasp as she asked me "do you think a fairy god mother left them there for us?"
She was so much fun and the one I "wanted" unlike the Old Maid, that you tried so hard to avoid......
maybe? she never found anyone that was good enough?
I can count with 10 fingers the amount of times that I remember with being with Sister, but it is probably more about the times she spent especially with me. She lived in Arkansas and we lived hours away so the visits were far and in between, not nearly as often as I would have wanted if given a choice.
Sister was such a good and gentle spirit.
I visited Sister in 1979 when I was 17 years old. I found her house from memory and the name of the town.
I had a great visit and was welcomed into Sister's home and open arms......... she fed us (home made fried chicken & lemon pie) and we had showers and then we went on our way to Natchitoches to visit the rest of the family.
Photo: Bottom "sister" Top "aunt francis"
Sister such a good and gentle spirit.
Sister kept in touch with me in the mail for years. She sent me stamps that any collector would be proud to their collection. I have a couple today , but its only a couple, most were lost in a divorce and I will never be able to recover them. She got the stamps from the "junk" in the attic, papers and envelopes she saved for many years in mint condition written in fancy quill ink, specialty stamps etc that were rare even in their own time. Sister knew a worth........ that the rest of the family regarded as junk........... in both human relationships as well as in objects of sentimental value.
........ such a good and gentle spirit.
NOTE: the main character of the movie below was ironically named "Charlotte"