This past weekend here at Polyface we hosted a family reunion on the Salatin side, instigated by my Mom's 95th birthday last December.  These were all my first cousins and their families.  My mom is the last remaining member of that initial 5-sibling, 5-spouse WWII generation legacy.

             My dad was the first sibling to pass away, in 1988 at age 66.  Two years later my aunt went also, young and also cancer.  Then things stabilized for a long time until everyone was in their 80s.  So as we sat around and reminisced, my first cousins gravitated to telling stories about our Aunt Alice, who was sister to our shared grandmother--Nellie Salatin.  Those 5 marriages produced 14 first cousins.

             Aunt Alice was a school teacher and quick-witted, the life of every gathering.  So just for fun today, I'll share 4 stories from my great Aunt Alice and hope you enjoy them as much as we all enjoyed them this weekend.

             She drove a huge Chrysler New Yorker after her husband died and my uncle Jim (dad's oldest brother) kept it running for her.  One time after a repair visit she complained that it just wasn't running quite right.  Known for a heavy foot, she surmised to her friends that her nephew had put a governor on it.

             She was pulled over for speeding and the cop asked her why she was going so fast:  "Well, the sign says 80," she replied.  "That's the Interstate--Interstate 80, ma'am," he explained.  She always said that she thought she heard him mumble, as he walked away, "Glad she hadn't gotten over to Interstate 95 yet."

             Another time she was pulled over for speeding.  "Are you in a hurry, ma'am?" the cop inquired good-naturedly?  "Well, sonny, indeed I am, "Aunt Alice replied.  "I'm almost out of gas and needed to get to the gas station before I ran out."

             After her husband, my great Uncle Pae died, she drove her big Chrysler New Yorker each month out to the country cemetery at the Nazarene Church to visit the grave.  I don't remember him but everyone says they had a very happy marriage.  Anyway, on this particular morning it was extremely foggy but she knew the roads and whisked along at her normal rate.  A county deputy saw her fly by and pulled her over.  "Do you know how fast you were going?" he asked.  "Well, no, it was so foggy I couldn't see the speedometer," she shot back.  My understanding is that she never got a ticket in any of these, that her charm and quick answers so unnerved the cops they couldn't bring themselves to give her a ticket.

             Time for one more?  After school one day she received a phone call from an irate parent, accusing:  "How dare you call my son names in the classroom?"

             "Call him names?  Now what do you think I called him?" Aunt Alice queried.

             "He says you called him a scurvy elephant," said the indignant parent.

             "Oh," laughed Aunt Alice.  "I called him a disturbing element."  End of problem.

             Although Aunt Alice has been gone from our lives for 30 years, she lives on in our collective memory.  Every family needs an Aunt Alice.

             Do you have an Aunt Alice?