Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, May 17, 2018


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections & Stories for the Years of Winter

REMEMBERING AUNT DOROTHY                        [R, 5-17-18]

I am now one of those old people about whom younger family members will soon say, “Oh, I wish we had asked him about….one or another point of family history….before he died, because he’s the only one who might remember…. Aunt Dorothy.”

So here’s a shout-out to Aunt Dorothy, which must start, of course, with the iconic family stories about her…

When AD was a girl, a woman knocked on the door of their Frisco [Francisco, IN] house. Dorothy answered. The woman was selling horse radish. “We don’t need any,” AD said. “We don’t have any horses.”

When she was a little older, a young teen, she somehow got into somebody’s car and took it for a spin, even though she did not know how to drive. She got to the edge of town, beyond the reach of side streets, and realized she did not know how to put the car in reverse, so she drove all the way to Oakland City [about six miles, on a very primitive highway] in order to go around the block to head back home. [1]

I got to thinking about AD this morning because as I walked, I worked on remembering all the times I was really happy, which is a fun thing to do. One of the earliest times I could remember was when AD took me and my older sister, Mary V, to a variety show at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis. It was one of those Saturday afternoon things for families, and it had dog tricks, including dogs walking on tight ropes. There was one little dog, though, that just would not do anything right. [I was only six or seven, maybe as young as four or five, so I did now know it had been trained to do nothing right.] It kept getting in the way, and exasperating the trainer, and I laughed so hard and so long that AD had to shush me because people were looking at me. I’m sure it was because I was adorable.

So that started me thinking about all the happy AD stories, which led to AD’s aforementioned early trip to Oakland City. That led to other car trips with AD, including the one when she took me to Winslow, to take my driver’s license exam. Why we went to Winslow, I’m not sure. It was in another county. Maybe Winslow was closer than Princeton, or had a better reputation for passing kids like me on the first try. [We no longer lived in Indianapolis. When I was ten we moved to a little farm near Oakland City to be near my mother’s family in Francisco.]

Passing on the first time was important because AD had to skip a day of work in Indianapolis to take me for the exam.

She came down to Frisco from Indy almost every weekend, to look after Grandma. She always went back to Indy on Sunday afternoon to be at work on Monday. But she went back to Indy a day late in order to take me to Winslow. You had to furnish your own car, of course, to take your driver’s exam, and my father being blind and us living on $80 a month Aid to Dependent Children [2], we did not have a car, or much else. So I took the exam in AD’s Pontiac. That was a real gift. She was important in that office where she worked—payroll, I think; lots of things others did not know how to do, that had to be done on time--so they did not want her to take time off. But for me, she did.

Like many single people, she wasn’t sure that her siblings were up to doing a decent job of parenting. That included her next older sister, Mildred, in particular, since she was able to see her do parenting, right there in Indy. In that role, AD became my advocate.

She had picked up Mother and my sister and me to go some place once in her car, and I was last in and shut the door on my hand. Mother immediately smacked me for doing so, which was her usual response to any such mistake. AD said, “For God’s sake, Mildred, he didn’t do it on purpose, and he’s already hurting.” Mother was only slightly chagrined at having her parenting style disputed, but I loved AD for that.

So I remember AD with great affection, especially for that dog show, and taking me to get my driver’s license, and believing I wasn’t being stupid on purpose. Laughing and driving--and knowing there was someone who believed I wasn’t stupid on purpose--have kept me going for a long time.


Dorothy Bernice Pond was born Feb. 21, 1913, so this would have been around 1925-27 or so. Cars were rather basic—certainly nothing like automatic transmission. The last of the Model T Fords were built in 1927, replaced by the Model A.

2] $80 then would be about $800 now. Still not much for a family of six.

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