Friday, August 10, 2007

Aunt Bertha’s House [CCR]

A simple sight, sound, or smell can brisk you away by both miles and years. I was passing through Mansfield, Ohio when a smell suddenly took me to Uncle Henry’s garage in Florence. Uncle Henry and Aunt Bertha lived at then end of Cumberland Street and just behind the house was Uncle Henry’s garage. It was always full of cars with various ailments under the watchful care of Uncle Henry.

When Uncle Henry wasn’t in the garage working you might find him either in the kitchen partaking of Aunt Bertha’s cooking or sitting in the den. With the large fish aquarium bubbling in the background he would tell you a story to make you chuckle. Uncle Henry’s horses, mules, and wagons were something of a legend around home. There were many times he would come rescue some poor soul who had taken his motorized vehicle where only the mules dare tread. Often he gave hayrides for birthday parties or other events and you would see the team clopping down the streets of Florence.

Inside the house today you can still find some sort of Southern delicacy on Aunt Bertha’s stove. Southern tradition demands an offering of food upon visits by friends or relatives, and Aunt Bertha has always upheld Southern traditions. She happily invites you to drop by anytime, no need to call. And she always has something cooking on the stove.

Another Southern tradition upheld by Aunt Bertha is providing something to the children on our visits. She sold Stanley products and when we were children she would search through her closet of goods often finding something for my sister or me. We rarely left the house without treasures in our stomachs and our hands.

Today Aunt Bertha’s house sits quietly in the large shade trees. You might find her with her company sitting on the front porch swings enjoying the cool summer breeze and the colorful flowers in the yard. She will ask about your family and listen attentively, sharing a smile of calming assurance. Even the memories of my visits make time stand still there in a place where you relax and enjoy the hospitality.

Once its time to depart, Aunt Bertha will see you to the door and inquire when you might be able to drop by again. You get to catch one more sensual trace of the Southern cooking on the stove from the breeze of the door, providing the temptation to make that visit sooner than later.

As you pull away from the shaded drive and head down Cumberland Street your trip to those simpler times ends when you approach the hustle and bustle of Pine Street. By the time you reach that first traffic light your mind is already longing for the tranquility you left behind at Aunt Bertha’s house. But never fear for you can head down Cumberland Street any time and she’ll be waiting with a pot on the stove and a hug for the weary.