Monday, May 20, 2013


Mom used to have an aunt named Winnie, and she was born exactly 100 years ago today.  I thought it might be a good idea to have a party to celebrate this event, and we could serve cake and ice cream and dog treats.  But Mom said that Aunt Winnie had been dead for 13 years, so there was really not much point in having a party that she couldn't come to.

Aunt Winnie was the sister of Mom's dad, whose name was Claude.  They were born near Decatur, Arkansas, in Benton County, which is in the northwest corner of the state.  Most people don't know there is a Decatur in Arkansas, and that is because it is a very small town with only one traffic light.

Here's a picture of Claude and Winnie when they were pretty young, maybe 5 and 7:

And here is the one-room school they went to, which was named Mt. Zion:

When the two of them were teenagers, the family moved back to Clay County, Missouri, which is where their dad (my mom's grandfather) grew up.  Aunt Winnie went to North Kansas City High School, and she graduated in 1931.  Here is a picture from maybe 1930 or 1931.  In those days, women wore funny hats, but not as funny as those pillbox kind of hats from the 1950s and 1960s.  At least, that's my opinion.

In 1937, Aunt Winnie married a man named Donald Humphrey.  We don't know how they met, since Mom never thought to ask.  This picture was taken not long after they got married.  Back in those days, people didn't know how to do color photography, so they had to color the photos by hand.  This makes everybody look a little fakey, if you ask me.

Pretty soon after their marriage, Aunt Winnie and Uncle Don moved to Los Angeles.  Mom also forgot to ask why they did this, but she thinks they probably didn't like the cold winters and hot summers in Missouri.  Back then, in the 1940s, there weren't as many people or cars or as much smog in Los Angeles.  But there were still earthquakes sometimes.

About that time, World War II got started, so Uncle Don joined the Army.  We don't know where he was during the war, but probably he was in Europe someplace.  Once again, Mom failed to ask important questions while there was still somebody around to answer them.  

Anyway, after the war, Uncle Don mostly worked as a roofer.  This was very hot work, because lots of times he was on top of roofs, putting tar on them to keep them from leaking.  In the meantime, Aunt Winnie worked as a bookkeeper.  

The job she had longest was at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.  She worked there for 21 years.  The office she worked in was on Rodeo Drive, where there are lots of shops where only rich people can afford to buy anything.

Every year around Valentine's Day, the Chamber had a big, fancy dinner, with a bunch of famous people there.  Aunt Winnie got to go to these events, which she helped plan and did all the bookkeeping for.  She usually bought herself a fancy dress for the dinner, or else she made herself one because she was very good at sewing things.

Aunt Winnie didn't retire until she was over 70.  She was always afraid of running out of money, even though she and Uncle Don had both worked all their lives and saved lots of what they earned.  They didn' have any children or pets to spend money on, and they didn't go on any trips.  Well, except they came to Missouri and Iowa almost every year to visit relatives.

Uncle Don died of a heart attack about 10 or 12 years before Aunt Winnie died in 2000.  After her aunt  died, Mom went out to Los Angeles and spent 3 weeks going through everything in Aunt Winnie's house.  Mostly, she just had to pick out some things to send back to Iowa to Uncle Don's relatives.  Also, Mom saved some things for herself.  It was really hard to get through the whole house in only 3 weeks because Aunt Winnie was a hoarder, and there was stuff packed into every corner and closet and drawer.

So those are the main things I am going to tell you about Mom's Aunt Winnie.  Mom says that even if Aunt Winnie were still alive, she would not want anybody to make a big fuss or spend any money to celebrate her 100th birthday, and that is mainly because she was a very thrifty person.  Except that "thrifty" was not the exact word that Mom used!

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