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RECOLLECTIONS OF THE WHITESIDE FAMILY

Jean Lougeay

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All of the four unmarried sisters remaining at home were prim and proper, but it seemed that from eldest to youngest this grew a bit less marked. Lily always wore high-necked, long sleeved, floor length dresses with high button shoes, her gray-white hair drawn up tightly into a bun on top of her head. She was a small person, but wiry and strong both physically and morally. As a teen-ager I often strolled with her in the yard or garden and always learned a few things. Once as we walked along, she gathered sticks, snapped them into shorter pieces and tossed them under the bushes. I asked why she didn’t just rake them and carry them away. Well, she explained, they disintegrate, go back into the soil, and make food needed by the plants. After seventy or eighty years I still recycle twigs and branches.

The Scarlet Pimpernel was a favorite book of hers and at every opportunity she would relate the story to me in endless detail. As a teen-ager I was terribly bored, but there was no escape without being rude. In those days young people were not rude to their elders.

Lily, Daisy, and I think Ollie (Olive) taught at the old Whiteside School. I’m not sure, but I think Dorothy did as well. In that era, a high school education was preparation enough for teaching in country schools, but knowing the Whitesides, I’m sure their students were amply prepared. They had great respect for learning, read extensively, and always used perfect grammar and pronunciation. Daisy especially, enunciated every letter precisely and it disturbed her that the word "sugar" sounded as if it were spelled with "sh". She tended to ignore that offending "h".

Daisy didn’t hesitate to correct mistakes. Dr. Hough, our mutual dentist, was a very dignified, serious, even stern, person. He was considered "the best", but had one unfortunate expression. When offering a cup of water, he’d say, "Wrench your mouth. " Only Daisy would have the audacity to ask, "Why do you say wrench, instead of rinse? "

On the east side of the Whiteside living room was a sunny bay window with glass shelves for displaying pretty colored bottles and small plants. Daisy told how once when she was driving along a country road, she spied a beautiful glass bottle. She stopped to retrieve it but upon picking it up was shocked to discover that it was a whiskey bottle! So of course she had to leave it there! The Whiteside ladies were strict tee-totallers. Not so, their brother Ray.

Ray was a jolly fellow with many friends, including good drinking buddies. They often went out on week-end nights and came home not quite sober. These were the horse and buggy days and Ray told of one such occasion when he was having trouble getting out of the buggy. (To fully appreciate this you would have had to hear him tell it in his nasal-toned voice. ) The friend advised him, "Well – if ya cain’t git down, fall down! "

Ray appreciated odd characters and knew many. When visiting one such friend at supper time (his visits often just happened to fall around meal time), the fellow was showing him photographs while his wife bustled about preparing the food. Pointing to one old picture of his wife the man casually remarked, "Wasn’t she a putty little thing then fer as crummy and crusty as whut she iss now? " Ray was dumbfounded, but amused, that he would say this while she was right there busily cooking for them. She, however, seemed unperturbed.

A sharp eye for beautiful things was another of Ray’s traits. In those days barber shops had various preparations that came in quite handsome bottles of all sizes and shapes. We still have a very lovely one that he retrieved and gave us.

 
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