Travels

Aunt Olla wanted to come out to my house to go through some of her things, so I picked her up at the Fertile Hilton after lunch. We took the back roads out to the nursery just to see some new scenery, since we don't get to take trips to Frenchman's Bluff southeast of Twin Valley any more.



Here is the former home of my bus driver August. He and I were buddies when I was in kindergarten and first grade. If I wasn't at the top of the driveway, he would pull the bus into the nursery and find me. He really treated me well.

August was an old-school type, a World War II veteran who smoked filterless cigarettes and wore drab green work clothes. He was as thin as a rail.

When I was in second grade--and no longer on August's route--he had a terrific stroke. For at least a couple of years he laid in the Vet's hospital, unable to speak or move before he eventually died. I felt very bad. During that time, I got to know his wife Nora, a wonderfully jolly woman.



I wonder if Nora was responsible for the unconventional coloring on this outbuilding on the farmsite. It would be like her, although I do know that some people lived here well after August and Nora were gone.

As we drove through the country, I was amazed at how many farmsteads have no tracks running up the drive. That means they are unoccupied and unvisited--farmsteads I remember being vital.

We came to the old IOGT hall, the temperance hall down the road, and Olla remembered that her brother Mike (known to people who knew him later in life as Melvin, also my grandfather) was so enthralled with some bran muffins Olla had made that he got up front at a meeting of the IOGT and bragged them up and passed them out to everybody, citing their health benefits. Olla was mortified.

"I got on a health kick there for a while....sixty...no, it was.....goodness....seventy-three years ago!" It was in 1933. It must have worked. Olla is now 94 and going strong. She's been on a health kick for most of the last century!

We had coffee and Olla went through some of her boxes of books to pick out some favorites to bring into the HIlton to fill the empty shelf. She got her nose in a few of them, of course--health books advocating various home remedies. Hundreds of them. In fact, one of the books was entitled "1001 Home Remedies." Olla finally decided that she just can't keep up with them all, and put the vitamin books in the "discard" pile, which means I am to keep them until she dies at which time I am to give them away to a thrift shop. But throw them? Never.

Back at the Hilton, Olla sat me down in her recliner and said, "Now look around the room. What's different?"

Whoa, that's always a loaded question for a male--to sense the most recent decorating change in the room. I needed a hint.

"Look straight ahead. What jumps out at you?"

The flourescent lamp? The curtain around her roomate's bed? Finally, I noticed some plastic flourescent pink flowers on the top shelf across the room, and I'll be darned if it didn't change the whole mood of the place. At least that is what I think I was supposed to say.

Reminds me of the local bachelor farmer around here (true story) who was over for supper at the home of his fishing buddy and his wife--and was called into the living room to have a look at the new valances above the window or wherever valances are. He knew what to do. He looked up in wonder at the valances, stuck his thumbs behind the straps on his overalls and said, "You know, you wouldn't know it was the same house!"