Friday, January 24, 2014


The mind is a wonderful thing, and it’s strange the things people remember.

I remember...

That's Tante Fini all the way to the right with the other telephone operators.
…my mother saying that the family loved it that their Aunt Josephine, Tante Fine, was living with them, and I do remember her too. (I learned to call her Tante Fini - feenee) She and my grandmother were a team. Every so often my grandfather would come home and announce “Gussie, we’re moving,” and Grandma and Tante Fini would have to hustle. These were the gals who tended the house, who regularly scrubbed down the walls, bottomed out every room, had a regular schedule of what was to be done every day, and cooked wonderful meals.

Nothing was slap-dash. Everyone had their place at table – complete with their own napkin ring – and everyone had their assigned chores.  My mother’s most hated chore was to clean the French leaded windows, lots of little diamond-shaped panes - on the porch in the Richmond Hill house. (I see from the recent picture in the family history that these have been “remuddled”.) After that Mom loved large panes of glass, especially the windows in of one my own houses because they had the muntins between the two large panes of class.

I’m not sure if Tante Fine ever had a sweetheart – she never married. She came here from Germany around 1923 after her mother died. She was a highly skilled telephone operator, one of the first in Germany, and speaking both German and English, would have been hired here in an instant. But she chose to partner with my Grandmother to raise a family of eight children, every one of whom loved her to bits.

Tante Fini and her mother, my great grandmother,
in the early 1920's

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