Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Aunt Mavis: To Houston From Kansas

My Aunt Mavis passed away this week.  She was a girl who grew up on the Kansas prairie and made Houston, TX her home.  I looked forward to her visits as a young lad because Aunt Mavis could regale me with her stories of her youth.  She was a very good storyteller.

Back then, there was no Internet, no cable television, only one tv station by antenna on a good day, a few radio stations, and the nearest neighbor was measured in miles, not feet.  So, visitors from a big city like Houston was always a treat for me.  But Aunt Mavis brought that big city and country living to me.  She, without knowing it, gave me the first glimpse that yes living out in the middle of a Kansas prairie didn’t restrict my dreams.

But she had that laugh that always made a good story better.  And she told some whoppers!  I think her favorite subject to tell stories on was her brother Max.  I never met Max as he died before I was born. And I never met the mother of my Dad or Aunt Mavis either because she had died at a young age too.  And my Dad’s (Aunt Mavis’) other brother Uncle Duane died, and their father (my Grandpa Dave) died when I was very young.  So for me, Aunt Mavis was the only other connection to my Dad’s life before he was married.

One day I received mail. Getting mail in those days was like finding a treasure.  Aunt Mavis had sent me a big book about space exploration from Houston’s mission control store.  I was hooked on space exploration learning ever since.  I was fascinated with the information about Apollo and its launches, and at the time, the planned launches.  I still love learning about space.  Thank you Aunt Mavis for providing that spark.

And Aunt Mavis could write. She wrote a rough draft of a novel that she sent to me to read.  The novel was based off the experiences of living in the country and the struggles of gaining that personal identity that all teenagers struggle finding.

Now to one of my favorite Aunt Mavis stories.  This story was about her brother Max and when he had the mumps.

It seems Max had the mumps and being a young boy was ordered to stay in bed  no matter what.  Max was spending his bedtime over at his cousin’s house in a town on the other side of the county from the farm.  It seems that Max liked the company of his Aunt and cousins while temporarily bedridden.  But Max was following the doctor’s order—no way was he getting out of that bed.

Well, it would seem that one day during Max’s stay, a mighty storm was rolling across the plains; a storm that could create a tornado.  Now Aunt Mavis and the others at the farm were heading to the cellar for protection because there is nothing like a powerful storm gaining more energy and strength on the Plains. 

The mighty storm did create a tornado, and it was heading for the town that Max and his cousins lived.

“Max, Max,” his cousin cried running into the bedroom.  “Get out of bed and head down to the basement!”

“You know the doctor’s order,” Max replied.  “I can’t get out of this bed.”

His cousin replied, “Well, you stay in the bed if you want to but there is a tornado heading this way and I’m going to the basement!”

Needless to say, Max didn’t stay in bed!

Thank you Aunt Mavis for keeping history alive with your stories and with your wonderful way of telling stories so well.

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