Aunt Olive

Vesta sewing machine (L.O. Dietrich Altenburg)Aunt Olive was my mother’s aunt and she lived in Chicago at the same time we did. Aunt Olive was very partial to me and she made almost all my clothes. She wasn’t quite as fond of Lindy (which you may remember from the Chinatown incident), and when she made clothes for her it was only to coordinate with something I was wearing. Mother had no problem with this big show of favoritism. She never acted the least bit upset when Aunt Olive asked me to go to get my picture taken and she never tried to talk to Aunt Olive about being a bit more fair.

One Saturday, Aunt Olive came to take me to the photographer’s. My hair was a mess and my dress was wrinkled. Although I got my picture taken, in the photo you can see that I am totally distressed. The next time we went, Aunt Olive fixed my hair at the photography studio. She made me a new white dotted Swiss pinafore, and she placed a white bow in my hair. I looked great, and those pictures stayed on her living room wall until she gave them to me.

Once Aunt Olive made us beautiful organza gowns. Mine was pink which went great with my brunette hair and the blond Lindy’s was yellow–an unfortunate choice. Another time Aunt Olive made us identical striped dresses for Christmas. Despite the two year age difference and despite looking completely different, Aunt Olive thought we should dress like twins. The worst part of Aunt Olive’s sewing is that Lindy not only had to wear what was made for her; she also had to wear my clothes once I grew out of them.

Once we were grown, Lindy wanted nothing to do with Aunt Olive but I visited her when I could. She was a person who made me feel valued and loved, and I will never forget her kindness to a little girl. One time I was at her home and she gave me some things that had been hers and were now antiques.

Then she said:

I won’t give your mother a thing. One time I gave her a quilt and the next time I came to your house an old dog was laying on it.

Although I did not recall the quilt or the dog, I had no problem believing her story.

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