I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my Great Aunt Rose.
Aunt Rose was my grandfather’s sister. Along with their mother Carrie, they crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England in a ship named the Germanic in 1889. My grandfather, Edward was about 4 and Aunt Rose was 2.
I’ve looked through the records and I can’t seem to locate where my Great Grandfather Edward Sr. was at the time of his family’s crossing. I’m assuming that he was already here working and they were coming over here to join him.
Like a lot of other families in America, mine was one that migrated here from other countries, on both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family. I’ve found from searching through many records that my mother’s, father’s family spent a lot of their time crossing back and forth between here and England….probably because of economical reasons.
From the records I’ve found so far, it looks like the family stayed in the United States after Carrie, Edward Jr. and Rose arrived.
By the time I met my great Aunt Rose, she was into her 70’s and had lived a very long, interesting life. At least I thought so anyway.
My sister Christine and I were about 10 and 11 years old, and we were little wanderers. Actually it was more my sister who wanted to wander and she wanted me to tag along with her. This was way back in the late 1950’s and 60’s and we used to visit Aunt Rose quite a bit.
I remember Aunt Rose looking like such a frail old woman. She looked tall to me at the time because I was so short. But I’d say that she was probably not much taller than I am now, which is just under 5 ft. with very thin appearing, olive toned skin that seemed to have the texture of an alligator, only very soft to the touch.
Aunt Rose kept her yellowish, white hair cropped very short to her head. I always thought she had cut it to look that way but I found out recently it was because of the chemicals for perming and such that her hair had broken off.
I remember also, Aunt Rose had greenish, black stains on two or three of her fingers because she was a smoker and big, blackish/purplish looking spots on her hands and arms from where she said the rats, that her building was infested with, had bitten her.
When I had heard that the rats in the building had climbed right up on her and started feasting on her, I was thoroughly creeped out every single time we visited after that and I kept my eyes open for the sight of any rats, ready to make a be-line out of there if I saw any. (I’m shivering now at the thought…ugh!)
I guess I can say, I loved Aunt Rose. I knew that my mother seemed to care a great deal about her and my grandfather too. They both made efforts to stay connected to her even though there seemed to be underlying negative feelings about her from other people in their family.
I felt so sorry for Aunt Rose….she always seemed so sad to me but she seemed to like that we visited her.
Aunt Rose told us many stories about her life….that she was the “black sheep” of her family. At the time I couldn’t imagine why but now I understand that it was probably because of some of her life choices that she was branded “black sheep”.
However, Aunt Rose had a lot of tragedy in her life. I think it was in 1929 that both her boys died in the same motorcycle accident, on the same day. Raymond was 20 and Albert was 17.
From the records with Aunt Rose in them, that I have found, it looks to me like after the death of her boys, she and her husband separated and she took up with another man without being divorced or remarried but she took his name. That would probably be reason enough in the 1930’s, plus the “woman smoking cigarettes” thing back then, to be labeled a “black sheep”.
Also, Aunt Rose had another baby some time later from the other relationship and he died too, when he was a baby. From my own experience, I know that the loss of your child will change you forever.
I don’t know why I’ve had these thoughts about my Great Aunt Rose lately but it was nice to go back there for a bit. Perhaps because I think a great deal about how my life is with my own grandchildren and how seldom we speak. It was a different time when I was a kid…..even when my kids were kids.
More children were taught then to respect and care about their elders and people in general. Not like today when many parents, not all by any means, but many, think that everything their kid does is perfectly acceptable or that they will be taught everything they need to know to live in the world when they go to school…..after all, they are just a kid. What can you expect from them anyway?
For what it’s worth, kids are learning, whether you are speaking to them or not. They watch what you do more than listen to what you say.
Thank you for reading.