Saturday, October 9, 2010

Aunt Dudley on Mount Rushmore

Aunt Dudley turned 80 and now she is selling her house of 45 years' residence. Akkk. Another change...I lived in that house when I was rescued from boarding school by my dad, Aunt Dudley's brother.
He drove to Palo Alto to pick me up and delivered me to Aunt Dudley's. They had made a big banner and set it up in the front yard: Welcome Shelby. They probably used shelf paper.
They put their two girls, my cousins, in one room, and gave me my own room with a big four-poster bed and a pretty dressing table with a white skirt and mirrors.
I worried about what to wear on my first day of a new school. My wardrobe was limited as I had come from a boarding school with uniforms: white middy blouses and navy blue skirts.
There were to be conflicts over my mode of dress. It was the second half of the sixties and styles were changing. No more peter pan collars and oxford cloth was more Carnaby Street (velvet jackets and ruffled blouses) and then bell bottoms and crop tops and then anything goes...but not really. There was a style in the anything goes of course.
There was the little red Falcon station wagon she let me drive to school. There was Sally Go Round the Roses, one of her favorite songs from our generation.
She likes to say she was prematurely a mother to a teenager.
Aunt Dudley was energetic and positive and very good to me. (She still is.) I was there from mid-year 10th grade, through 11th grade, and then I decided I wanted to live with my father. Why everyone was so obliging I will never know.
My senior year was 1967 and things were really changing by then. My father tried but was gone a lot of the time. He worked all day in downtown Los Angeles and I soon figured out that some nights he wouldn't be home at all. Being 16 and having my own little VW I would find my own places to go.
So my time at Aunt Dudley's was a very so-called normal time for me.
And now the house is going off to someone else. Everything changes if you wait long enough.
I will miss knowing it is there, welcoming and familiar.

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