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Sitting Down with Aunt Lola

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My mom Leslie with her Aunt Lola- June 2009

My mom recently got back from the Platts Family Reunion in Enterprise, Utah.  While she was there, she sat down with one of her favorite Aunt’s and asked her about her childhood.  Aunt Lola will turn 90 in December and she is in excellent health.  Her memory is sharp and her sense of humor is wonderful.  My mom talked with her about a number of things including ways she and her family learned to “Make it Do” during the Depression and War years.  They were a tough generation and I want to learn from them.

Here are a few interesting things about Aunt Lola:

She grew up in a family of 17 children on a ranch in Lyman, Wyoming in the Bridger Valley.

Their home burned to the ground twice… the second time was in May 1937.  Her beloved 6 year old brother Joey was killed in the fire.  A few days later her mother gave birth to her 17th child.

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Aunt Lola at High School Graduation

Lola still remembers that exact day she graduated from Lyman High School… May 19, 1939.  She was the commencement speaker.  There were 19 kids in her graduating class.  10 girls and 9 boys.

Some of the lessons she learned growing up during the 1930′s were:

  1. Save your money.
  2. Never waste food.
  3. Always shop for a bargain.

She said those lessons stuck with her her whole life, no matter how well off she became.

She also learned to be creative and self-sufficient.  Growing up, she only had one pair of shoes and one dress a year.  The dress was always made by her mother, whom they called Mama.  Since Mama was making clothing for such a large family, her leg would get tired pumping the treadle of her sewing machine.  So one of the kids would sit on the floor and pump the treadle for her while she sewed.  Even though their clothes were homemade they still cared about fashion.  The sisters would find a dress they loved in the Sears Roebuck Catalog and Mama would copy the design.  Mama also made all of their underwear out of old flour sacks.

Even though they all worked hard on the ranch, they only had one bath a week.  Since they didn’t have indoor plumbing, they would fill a large tub with water heated on the stove.  Then the whole family would take turns taking a bath… starting from the oldest right down to the youngest.  My Great Uncle Hal, the youngest boy in the family, said by the time his bath rolled around the water was cold and filthy!  Uhggg!  I hope I never have to “Make it Do” that much.

Baths were always on Saturday night.  They also cleaned their clothes and polished their shoes every Saturday and laid them out for church on Sunday.  Aunt Lola said when you have one dress and one pair of shoes you really learn to take care of what you have.

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During WWII she worked in a factory in California making B-24 Liberator Bombers.  As my son Ben would say, “She was a real live Rosie the Riveter.”  (If I ever got a tattoo, which I won’t, it would be of the Rosie in this poster… I just love it.)

Aunt Lola worked in the cockpit installing levers.  She said as she worked, she always thought about the brave men who would soon fly that plane into combat.   She always wanted to write a note and attach it to a lever wishing the men luck… but she never did.

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My Grandparents (left) with Aunt Lola and her husband Buck (right)

I am so glad I have family like Aunt Lola to learn from.  Hearing her stories makes me grateful for all that I have and determined to always make the best of what ever life hands me.

And can I just say… I am especially grateful for warm showers every day!

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7 Responses to “Sitting Down with Aunt Lola”

  • Krystan S.:

    Hi, i just recently found your blog, and I absolutely L-O-V-E it!! You are truely an inspiration. I am a stay at home momma to a 5 year old boy, and almsot 10 month old girl. I am always looking for ways to “make-it-do.”

    Reading this post makes me realize how much you are a woman after my own heart! I lost my grandfather January 11th of this year, he would have turned 85 the following week. My favorite memories of him were of him telling me about when he was little or in the army stationed overseas. I have a few tape recordings of some of his stories and they are one of my most prized possessions. Since he’s passed i have tried to start writing down some of the stories that I can remember. I plan to put together a small “scrapbook” for my dad and all of my aunts and uncle for Christmas this year.

    I guess thats enough rambling…thank you SO much for taking time for this blog…you are truly and inspiration to me and i’m sure many others!

  • What a fabulous woman. You have such a legacy of great women in your family.

  • Darlene:

    What a great story and wonderful life your aunt led. Were they Mormons it just struck me that they might be?

    • Yes they were Mormons… I guess the size of the family might give it away! I don’t know how my Great Grandmother pulled it off with 17 children. I think some days are tough with just my three!

  • michelle:

    i live in evanston, wyoming, just over the ‘three hills”! What an inspiration your aunt is, and our generation can learn so muh from women like her. How lucky we are if we allow that to happen!

  • Great post Calli, I love it. Nice photos too. Thank you for taking the time…

  • [...] it wasn’t.  It was made in the early 1960′s by my grandmother and sister, my great aunt Lola, who made 10 or more of them for their sisters and [...]

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