This is a story about a nice day of making family history while sharing it. About a week ago my sister and I had just the best afternoon with our Aunts Ruth and Peg. You know how sometimes the stories and the laughs come easy. That's how it was that day. I have to say it's always nice to be with Peg and Ruth. They are upbeat and truly nice people. But on this day it felt a little special.
There doesn't have to be a particular reason to go visit them, but since April 2 was Ruth's 80-something birthday we made a plan to celebrate with a lunch get-together. Our meal at the MCL cafeteria was tasty and comfortable, as always. It's a great place to relax and talk for as long as anyone wants. Of course, I don't mind either that Wednesday is catfish day. Yum! And around our table you could find fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, candied beets, gooey cinnamon rolls and more. The four of us caught up a little on family, discussed the possibilities for going to quilt shows this spring and had our endless refills of iced tea and coffee. Our chats are always interesting with these aunts who have a glint of humor in their eyes.
When we were ready to move along, we went just a few miles to Aunt Peg's house. There's never a lag in the conversations, the latest project or grandchildren or whatever. Ruth has 22 of her family coming to her house for Easter dinner. She explained to me the best Ott light to buy for crafts. Peg is busy with the two reunion quilts for Weber and Niehaus reunions. And Marti received one of the quilts to help out with the backing. They are both great resources for advice on sewing. That's for sure.
During the visit we also asked Ruth and Peg about some of their memories growing up. Ruth gave me some new pieces of our family history. I wasn't aware of her Irish ancestry. We kid her about being a Weber and marrying into the Weber family. I haven't had an opportunity to learn the other side, actually, the family that she was closest to as she grew up. She told a story of her grandfather, John Valentine Weber leaving Fort Wayne to come to Indianapolis when he was 12 years old because his stepfather was abusive. He got a job in a grocery store and the family who owned the store let him live with them. Eventually he married their daughter, Ellen Cahalane. Ruth grew up in a predominantly Irish neighborhood, near St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, on the east side of Indianapolis. I was thrilled to learn a little more about her history and will be looking into these ancestors. Besides Ruth's childhood, I finally remembered to ask for the names of the people in her and Uncle Harry's wedding photo from June 25, 1949. Put your cursor over the photo to see who they are.
Another childhood memory that Peg and Ruth talked about was the vegetable and fruit trucks that circulated in the neighborhoods on the south side of Indianapolis in the 1920s, 30s, 40s. Although they didn't know each other in those years, both ladies remember their families buying regularly from a man traveling through their neighborhoods. Ruth recalls a man named Tony that came down their street with his horse and wagon filled with fruits and vegetables when she was a child. Peg remembers an Italian man named Joe who had a truck that came by their house on Singleton Street near Garfield Park. And Ruth told of buying fruits and vegetables out of Joe, The Peddler's, truck in the 1940s after she married Harry Weber and lived on Griffith Road, several miles south of her childhood home.
But those recollections didn't stop with the vegetable trucks. A book that I brought along about the Red Cross Donut Girls in World War II opened the conversation to Peg's wartime stories. Her first reaction was to let us know that Shad didn't like these Red Cross girls very much because they charged the GI's for the donuts when he was in Europe. She said she would like to read the book though. And will let me know what she thinks about it. She also gave us more details of her experiences following Uncle Shad on his training exercises around the United States before he went overseas. She traveled to California, Texas, Alabama and North Carolina. Mineral Wells, Texas, was their first location. She described how her “room” was a partitioned space in the lobby of a hotel. There weren't enough places for the wives to stay. Marti asked “Did Shad visit you there?” And Peg just smiled and answered: “Yes, of course.” with her usual mischievous smile. Then, Marti said: “Did you have any privacy!!” And Peg just grinned. No comment necessary.
I tried to gather up the memories being shared that afternoon. But I may have missed one or two while we were enjoying our interaction. Also, I can't believe I forgot to snap a photo of Aunt Ruth with the birthday hyacinth we brought for her. That's not like me to miss a photo op! But anyway, she was happy to see the pretty blooms and decided that she'd ask Tom, her son, to plant it the next day when he picked her up for her birthday celebration with her family. Another nice happening for a nice lady.
Our afternoon with these two special aunts was outstanding. I just had to save it here on Indiana Ties as a part of our family history.