District 70 School Picnic, Spring 1936, Credit River Township, Scott County, MN
"Did you ever see this picture before? Aunt Bernice asks me a few minutes after we arrive to visit at her cozy assisted living apartment in Little Falls, Minnesota.
Still dazzled by the hundreds of pictures that nearly cover the walls of her place, I reply, "No, are you on there?"
She tilts her head to align with the picture and points at herself, "Back row."
I recognize her face, located between two girls and just above the boy in the front row with his right hand in his overall pocket. " You're pretty darn good lookin'."
"Some told me so," She says without embarrassment. "The picture was taken by Mom. Dad and Gordon (her older brother and my father) didn't come. I suppose they were too busy on the farm, but no one even gave her a ride. Mom had to walk nearly a mile across the pasture and down the road to get to my picnic."
The stories begin. I listen carefully, following up with an occasional question. As I enjoy her stories about her youth, her folks, her big brother (my father), her sisters, her husband and children, and, of course, her grandchildren, I think of what a fool I've been to delay the visit for so long. It's just a lousy two-hour drive. I need to visit often.
Before leaving, Nancy and I enjoy hugs and kisses from Aunt Bernice. We part reluctantly, promising to return soon. "When my next book comes out, I'll save postage and deliver it to you," At that remark, Aunt Bernice grins. We close the door behind us.
"Being with her reminded me of how much I miss Dad's stories," I whisper to Nanc, as we walk down the hall of the building.
"When you do your shows, Nancy adds,"you always say 'A story not told is lost forever.' We need to hear more of her stories."
As we settle into the car, I remark, "I didn't know that she went to the same country school I did. Next time we will bring her a 'Country School Survivor' T-shirt." Nancy nods in agreement.