Porches, Culottes and Airstreams

I grew up with the great blessing of knowing my extended family. Each of my grandparents came from large families (11, 5, 7 and 7), and I have fond memories of huge gatherings with my great-aunts and uncles.

My maternal grandfather's family were the Calhouns. Papa and his 6  older brothers (they lost a sister, I believe), all grew up in the "Dry Creek" area of Covington County. I'm pretty sure there was Scotch blood on all sides ("Grandmother Calhoun" had been a Magee) and they were a neat and eccentric bunch of folks.
At one point the family land was divided between the brothers, but when Papa retired from the Air Force in the seventies, he bought several of the brother's shares and he and my grandmother built a house and settled into semi-retirement. He farmed, raised cows and had a part-time law practice, as I understand it. 

By the time I was a child, all the brothers were retired. They had been in the Highway Patrol, worked for Standard Oil, done Civil Service, military, etc, and in retirement, it seemed that every one of them owned an Airstream travel trailer or some sort of camper. My grandfather turned an acre of the land into a "camper park" and every so often, they would all gather at the farm for a season. 

I loved it when they gathered. It was so fun to explore their campers and just listen to their stories. 
Papa and his brothers had the best names: Knox, Garland, Evan, Shelton (Shaky), John H., Harry and my own Papa was Aubrey. They were all a bit loud as every one of them had major hearing loss, and 
the gathering may have been referred to as a "Beltone Convention" by some of the younger folk. I remember steaks on the grill and boiled shrimp piled on a spread out on a newspaper; aluminum folding chairs and folks gathered around the kitchen table. 

My Granny and aunts matched their husbands in names: Lois, Eloise, Lucy, Nettie, Edith and Jean. They were such neat ladies. I remember lots of tightly curled hair and culottes and pumps (worn with the culottes, of course!)

There were many hours spent on the porch, and I remember a lot of pea-shelling into these aluminum colanders. I have some chairs on our porch now that remind me of those days. 

After Papa Died, many of his siblings were still alive and Granny kept in close touch with most of them. I have the best memories of going to visiting.

Aunt Nettie lived in my hometown, in a little tiny house. She had an electric organ and her galley kitchen always seemed to have some kind of pie in it. The back yard, which you accessed through the carport, via a little gate between the storage room and house, was the best. There were rose bushes and some sort of small patio with an out door shower and sink. I loved to play in her backyard, and peek into her bedrooms.

Aunt Eloise and Uncle Knox were simply
wonderful. They lived in Georgia and she dealt in collectibles (like glassware). She was very, very ladylike. He made muscadine wine and was a woodworker. The one time we stayed with them, I was just enamored with their house.

Our favorites, though, were Aunt Edie and Uncle Shaky. I even named one of my dolls Edie, my sister did one better and named her daughter Edie. Because they lived in Meridian, we saw them very often. Their house was super cool. The front living room had a long seventies couch, but I don't remember anyone ever sitting in it, but instead, there was a very comfy family room.  Their tiny kitchen had a swinging saloon style door. Aunt Edie had white hair and was very "pearly". She had the best laugh and read Victoria Holt novels. Her bathroom was pink, with pink carpet and I remember a lot of gilty-gold accessories lining her hallway. When we ate at their house, there were vegetables like squash and black eyed peas and sliced, peeled tomatoes on a dish. Best of all, I remember that she spoke "to" me and not at me. When I was a very little girl, Aunt Edie would sit on the swing with me at Granny and Papa's and we would swing in the night air and listen to the bullfrogs.

I'm grateful for these sweet memories of family. Being on the porch of the house we are in now brings them back. I'm grateful that even though family is often "difficult", my Granny pursued relationships even after Papa died and I got to know so many of my great aunts and uncles.