Every summer, my brothers and I visited my Aunt Ethel in Stratford, Oklahoma. My Aunt Ethel was actually my grandfather's sister....my dad's aunt. My memory of Stratford in the 1950's was a town that consisted primarily of two streets: Main Street and the two lane highway that divided the town and soon found it's way to the bustling university city of Ada, Oklahoma. Main Street had one restaurant, the beauty parlor,the barber shop, post office, and police station. The highway was where a visitor could find the large Second Baptist Church that my aunt attended.
Every year, Aunt Ethel planted a huge garden full of green beans, okra, corn, peas, and other vegetables. Each summer, my parents timed our week long visit to coincide with "pickin time". We became her busy elves..... so much so that picking okra with heavy gloves on and shucking ear after ear of corn remains vivid in my memory.....
Aunt Ethel was married to a man named Mayberry.....The funny names they had back then!!! Daily, Uncle Mayberry, a retired farmer, would mosey across the dirt street to the small grocery and "everything-else-you-need" store (now, we call them convenience stores......except this little grocery store was the only one in town) to play dominoes with his old buddies and chat the afternoon away.
Almost always, when my parents came to pick us up, we would drive up the road to visit Aunt Likie and her husband,Uncle Renfro.... Aunt Likie and Uncle Renfro were both retired school teachers.Through my eyes, their house was the BEST house in the world. It had been built sometime in the 1930's to 1940's. Made of red brick, it had built in bookcases with glass doors, a built in butler's pantry in the kitchen, glass doorknobs on all the doors, a beveled glass paned front door, bull's eye molding in all the rooms, and that musty old house smell that for some reason I loved. This, to me, was the perfect house. Without a doubt, this house spurred my lifelong love for antiques and old houses.
Since I don't live in an old house, I've satisfied my nostalgic side by decorating with "old" stuff.....antiques and collectibles..... Perhaps my love for everything vintage.....shabby.......and occasionally junky has some deep psychological meaning. Whatever.....I do know that as I grow older so does my appreciation for my parents, aunts, uncles........and the happy experiences of my childhood.