Memories of Aunt Florence and Aunt Lula and Their Men
by Diane Elizabeth Munger-Sylvia
My Great Aunts lived on separate floors in the farmhouse. Aunt Lula lived downstairs and Aunt Florence upstairs. Later on in life, Aunt Lula was upstairs with Aunt Florence.
I would spend a weekend with them, on occasion, enjoying the quiet there. I would spend a day with each aunt. However, I never missed visiting Aunt Florence with her wonderful cookies, cooked on a wood stove in the kitchen. She would always ask me ahead how I would like them done. So, I would generally ask for chocolate frosting on top of each cookie. Yummy!
Every day, one of the aunts would walk the entire lane to get the mail. We would play croquet outside. I always got beaten badly by each of them.
At night, we would play cards at Aunt Florence’s dining room table. Generally, we played the card game, SNIP. Once again, I didn’t stand a chance. One of them would always beat me.
When Dad, Mom and I took the aunts shopping, after the men died, they would often comment on how women should not be seen in pants because they weren’t made to wear pants.
Aunt Florence once played the pump organ at the Methodist Church in Niantic. Perhaps that is why she had her own pump organ at home. I would play the organ when my parents and I visited the aunts. There were a lot of church hymnals. Florence was also known for making up “nonsense” letters which were quite humorous.
Aunt Lula, I believe at one time was a school teacher in the Niantic area.
Both women wore dresses which were “properly” hemmed below the knee, and cotton stockings. Sometimes, they wore a complete apron.
After the men passed, the women would attend the Flanders Baptist Church with Reverend Allen Scott officiating.
Flora Storrs, the Niantic Librarian, would often visit the farm and bring books out for the ladies to read. Flora was a good friend to both of the ladies. She would stay and chat for a while. Both couples had bookcases full of history, fiction and bibles.
Aunt Florence’s eyes were operated on for cataract removal, which was successful. Aunt Florence kept her mail waiting until after her operation, according to my sister, Jean Barrett. Unfortunately she rubbed her eyes at a later date and caused damage to them.
Nights were quiet in the farmhouse. There was a soft light on the dining room table from an oil lamp. There was no electricity. In addition, I never saw or heard a phone in the house. However, my brother states there was a phone. Charles said that the phone was located in Aunt Lula’s and Uncle Herm’s lower living quarters. It was a three party line. In other words, other people could listen in to their conversations.
There was no inside toilet. When in need, one had to venture outside to the outhouse, or use a bowl to relieve one’s self. My sister Jean said that during the winter, there was a toilet of some sort in the garret. Bricks were heated up on the wood stove to place in the bed covers during the winter according to Jean. One usually washed up with water in a basin. There was water pumped into each kitchen for washing dishes with a soap bar.
Later in life, the aunts acquired a small refrigerator which was not electric. It had room for large ice. The stove kitchens were heated by wood. Many weekends, my father lugged up armfuls of wood from the huge pile of cut wood between the barn and house up the multi stairs to Aunt Florence’s kitchen.
When there were thunderstorms , Aunt Florence would hide on the stairs inside the door to the garret. She had many plants and one beautiful Christmas Cactus flower which bloomed every year in front of the window next to the stairs leading to the garret.
Another note of interest, is that my great aunts grew up with a sister, Mabel, who died around the age of 8. There were two brothers, Charles and Sheldon. Their father, my Great Grandfather, Elijah, was a dentist in Niantic. His brother was a doctor.
Great Grandma Sarah was originally a Field. Her family was related to Cyrus Field who laid the first Trans-Atlantic Cable.
According to my brother, Charles Munger III, Uncle Frank had a favorite cow with beautiful long eyelashes. Her name was Molly.
Charles spent two summers at the farm, riding his bike back and forth from Waterford. He would help Uncle Frank and Uncle Herm go down to the fields where the schools now stand and gather all the hay. They would then bring the hay back to the barn by wagon pulled by two work horses. Charles said that somehow they would tie bunches of hay together and with the help of a pitchfork and ropes, pull the bundles up to the second level of the barn to store inside. Aunt Florence and Aunt Lula lent a hand or two to the event.
Charles often joined Uncle Frank in milking the cows by hand. Uncle Frank would sit on the right side of each cow to avoid being kicked. He often would tell young Charles to watch out for the flicking tail of the cow, because if it struck him, it would hurt a great deal. Both Uncle Frank and Uncle Herm had a great sense of humor. Once, Uncle Frank saw one of the farm cats and took the teat of the cow he was milking and aimed at the cat, dousing him good.
Charles also remembered that Uncle Frank once found that a fox had gotten into the chicken coop and killed some chickens. He also recounted that there were two vehicles which both men owned. One was a 30 something truck and the other a 30 something car. Charles said that both were in mint condition. Uncle Frank would use the truck to take milk, cream, and other items to customers throughout the area.
There was an ice house by the pond back behind the barn. Charles seems to remember that they would wait for the pond to freeze over, then cut the blocks of ice to bring home. The corn shed was used to grind corn for the chickens.
This is an account of memories “on the farm” by Charles, Nancy Jean and Diane E. Munger.