Great Aunt Flo and Aunt Ida
When Archie Lee Spangler went to Grandma Sarah Jane Brock Spangler’s house to stay, temporarily, during his toddler-hood. Archie could always remember that place she and his Grandfather, Franklin Spangler, Sr, had lived, so close by Great Aunt Flo’s and Aunt Ida’s house in the old Bond Hill, in those early days, when Grandpa was still alive.
In that day and time, Archie Lee had his younger Cousin, Gracie, went along with him for the Great Odyssey between the two residences. The two of them, really only toddlers at the time, talked all the ground ups at Grandma’s into believing they’d be alright to set off unsupervised, to trek the whole way to Great Aunt Flo’s house.
The two children went traipsing off to go see the other ladies at the other house, on foot. How they’d ever gotten permission to try that little fiasco at such a tender age is beyond me to explain. I guess they were just pretty good salesmen at that time of their very young lives. It was in a simpler, safer time to be alive in that place, in those days.
They weren’t any age at all, maybe three and four; maybe four and five? They weren’t that much older than that, if they were even that old. Archie couldn’t remember exactly, all this time later. But Archie Lee and Cousin Gracie took out on their own, faithfully holding hands for safe keeping, with nothing and no one to guide them. They were permitted to go with no one to look after them for the whole block and a half between the two houses, out into the old Bond Hill.
Now, it was only a stone’s throw away from Grandma’s house, where Aunt Flo and Aunt Ida lived. It wasn’t any farther away than that. You could almost find the place with your eyes shut, it was so close by. But they were only two, very small children, and the idea that they could find their way, the whole way over and back to Grandma’s, to and from Aunt Flo and Aunt Ida’s house, was a relatively preposterous notion. But they did get away with it, in full knowledge of their elders.
The children had sold the Great Aunts on the idea, just like they’d sold the Grandparents on the idea at the beginning of this whole fiasco. They took off like Hansel and Gretel into the afternoon sun, way up in the old Bond Hill, of the old Cincinnati, Ohio, back in the good old days gone bye, after the Second World War was over and done.
They had been to see their two Great Aunts, who made a very nice little fuss over them, feeding them Cool Aid and cookies in their very cozy little kitchen. The children told their great aunts what they told all the other grownups at the other end of the Odyssey.
They knew exactly where they were, exactly how to get there, and please don’t worry. They’d be just fine. All the adults had accepted the idea at face value, and off the two small children went, to promptly get lost along a street they couldn’t recognize, once they’d both lost their bearings on both houses.
Gracie asked Archie if he recognized where they were along the street, and he admitted that he did not. Gracie asked if he had an idea what they should do about it, and Archie Lee just suggested they keep going a little farther down the street they were on. Neither one of them had a clue where they were or how to get to Grandma’s house, or Aunt Flo’s house, for that matter, even though they’d believed honestly that they did.
Now, Grandma was full-blood Irish, and one of her favorite games to play with the children was to get them to look for four-leaf clover in the grass out back of the house, and to collect lightening bugs in the summer dusk.
Well, the sun was still high in the sky, and they still had plenty of time before supper, with their little tummies full of Cool Aid and home made cookies, but the truth be told, they were lost.
Archie Lee, at his tender age, happened to be familiar with Grandma’s trash cans – and that’s what saved the two children from being lost altogether. They had missed the street that went between the school yard and Grandma’s house, and had gone down the alley instead of the street. Archie Lee had recognized those two trash cans when they encountered them in the alley. They breathed a sigh of relief at that point, and let themselves in by the back yard gate.
The children were relieved of getting hopelessly lost, and Archie Lee convinced himself that he would always keep his bearings better than that in the future. The two of them were happy that they’d gotten away with their bravado, but were not so quick to volunteer to go running off by themselves in the near future.