I've been trying to figure out where my interest in birds is coming from. Or should I say from where my interest is coming? And I think I can track it back to Aunt Frances.
Aunt Frances was my mom's oldest sister. She was also a first grade teacher in the Green Lane school. Lew was one of her first grade students! She was the first person I knew to buy a Volkswagen beetle. I am remembering it as 1959. At that time, the saying was "You could have it in any color as long as that color was black." She always sent birthday cards with little devotional books. And I remember visiting her in Gilbertsville. Her home was where the National Penn Bank is today on the corner of Rt 663 and Swamp Pike. Behind it was a lovely stream, and in the yard were feeders and houses. Martin houses, bushes and trees conducive to certain types of birds, and feeders of all types and sizes. I remember going out and helping her fill the feeders and in the spring, wash out the houses. (She also had a huge garden that I helped her weed. I wonder whether I really was helping.) We would sing or pray while working.
She gave me my first lesson at reading a bird book. We'd look at birds and she'd help me identify them in the book. I really coveted her book because she had so many marks of birds she found IN HER BACK YARD!!! Many of the bird houses were made by her students. She told me that one of the houses was made by Lew. Every time we talked about the birds, the garden, anything - she would tell me how God loves everyone and everything.
In October, 1954 there was a hurricane named Hazel. I was four years old and really scared. The wind was howling, rain pelting the windows, the power went off and we lit candles. By the light of the candles, Aunt Frances, Grandma Krauss, Mom and I sat at our kitchen table singing hymns. The women took turns holding me and showing me the hymn we would sing. As we sang they traced their finger over the words and music so I could follow along. I wonder if I could read. And then it was over. I have no idea where Daddy and my brothers were. Nor where Aunt Frances's three sons were. Maybe all the men/boys were together.
Uncle Charles (her husband) was quite sick. I remember he had a vibrating lounge chair - I suppose it was to relieve pain. They also had a unique television. There was a lighted ring around the screen.
I always picture him in his chair watching TV. One visit to their house had something to do with Aunt Frances's surgery. Mom was a nurse, and she brought me along on the visit, but the surgery was hush, hush. I had to sit on a kitchen chair and wait for the women to come out of the bedroom, then we went home. I never did find out what it was!
Many years later, Aunt Frances died of pancreatic cancer. I think she was in her 80's. We went to visit her in West Chester during her last months. She spent her time connecting with loved ones, saying goodbye and doing what she had always done - spreading God's love.