27 November 2010

Take This Tune - Seasons of Love

This week's Take This Tune song is Season's of Love from Rent. It starts with the 525,600 minutes that make a year.  To join in, click on the link above.

The above picture is my Aunt Helen between me (left) and my cousin Wanda (right). The year was 1953 and Chowchilla was a town consisting of one main thoroughfare of less than ten blocks called Robertson Boulevard, about four blocks on either side of private homes, all surrounded by miles of farm land and sheep grazing. On the edge of town was the dangerous place we weren't supposed to go because of the hobos called Berenda Slough.  My parents were in the process of divorcing, my usual alternative home with another aunt was temporarily unavailable, and Aunt Helen came to the rescue.

Unusual for the time period she was divorced, sole support of her daughter and her mother as a registered nurse, and owned her own home which was squeaky spotless.  This remarkable woman took on a niece she had only met once at a family wedding.  Wanda and I attended school together, swam at the city pool together, went to the park together, stopped in at a drug store where you could still get real soda fountain flavored Coca Colas (cherry for her and lemon for me) in those classic glasses.  No one ever locked their doors so we weren't really aware that we were latch key kids totally on our own between school letting out and Aunt Helen coming home to cook.  In an era before McDonald's, she would make full from scratch dinners.  Don't ask me how she did it, because I don't have a clue.  It was a year when the world saw the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II with all it's pomp and circumstance and a year when I knew a simple woman who out of love simply did what was right for two little girls.  The year came to an end when my mother remarried in Aunt Helen's living room and I went off to another place for another year.

Aunt Helen eventually remarried and sold her tiny home to move to a much larger one that faced Robertson Boulevard directly across from the Baptist Church.  Wanda changed her last name to her stepfather's but continued her idyllic small town existence until going off to Fresno for college and another then little town of  Selma when she married.  This has led to a fifty year joke between us about the "Country Mouse" and the "City Mouse".  Today we both have to lock our doors.

While still in the country, Chowchilla is a good sized community, Robertson Blvd leads to the Pacheco Pass that takes you from Central California across the Coastal range and the Berenda Slough is now a recreational area.


Linda said...

Your Aunt Helen sounds like she was remarkable woman and I would be willing to bet that year you spent living with her and your cousin definitely had a lot to do with shaping your life.

I so wish that we still lived in simpler times when you could leave your doors unlocked or go somewhere without there being crowds of people along for the ride but alas, the world has most definitely changed. And not necessarily for the better in my humble opinion.

Truth be told, I wouldn't have minded living in the days of the Beaver Cleaver or the kids from Father Knows Best.

Mimi Lenox said...

I loved this story. Aunt Helen make a mark on you. Her strength and kindness was remarkable!

Travis Cody said...

She sounds like a terrific lady.