Aunt Loretta often said, “Enough about me, how did you like my last movie?”
If someone ever made a movie about Aunt Loretta, it would be hilarious and emotionally take you up then drop you down pretty hard, but you would love every minute.
She talked to me like I was an adult, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, and we had traveled from PA to Murdo, SD to have a Sanderson reunion. I kept playing with the many cousins running wild through the small town and enjoying meeting all my relatives. I would ask her if we were “allowed” to do this or that, constantly asking for adult permission, and she got a bit agitated at my persistence.
“Do you always have to ask if you’re ‘allowed’ to do anything?” she asked sternly.
That shut me up for a while. Two weeks later, when we got home to the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I asked my Mom about all the aunts’ and uncles’ names and tried to get their kids connected with the right relative. When it came to discussing Aunt Loretta, I blurted out, “Ohhh, the mean one!”
My 8 year old self was wrong. Loretta was just honest and treated you like an adult, something which I was not used to at all. She made you own up.
Another time she told me that being an only child was different. She said my parents had to pour all their hopes, dreams and work of parenting into just one kid. They had to give me all their love and attention. Not necessarily spoiling me, because they were careful about that and we didn’t have much money, but just giving the one child 100%.
One sizzling hot summer day in Murdo, she was lying in bed with just a 1950’s style bra on and shorts looking through movie magazines. As kids do, some of us piled in to look at the movie star’s photos with her and she said something about her next movie coming out. She also said her next husband would be sweet and kind. As a kid, I had never seen my Mom, first of all, lying in bed in the middle of the day in her bra and secondly talking about movie stars and movies while lounging in bed. And getting married again. What? This was fascinating and daring stuff.
Loretta gave cousin Andrea and me our first paid jobs while in junior high, cleaning her motel rooms during the summer. She was particular about how the rooms were cleaned and trained us exactly in what she wanted done each morning. Then later, she took us to Mack’s Cafe for homemade giant cinnamon rolls as a reward for working. I think Andrea and I liked those rolls better than the cash we got working.
I hold many wonderful memories about her in my heart and psyche. Too many to share.
~The time she wore her red satin petticoat over her dress at a fashion show party to show off, her delicious lemon bars and cooking, her fake yelling at you finger pointing and saying, “Just wait. Grandpa will have to deal with your behavior!” Leaving a dirty diaper under her roommate’s pillow after her sweet roommate complained about dirty cloth diapers being left around their shared wartime apartment just to get back at her. On and on…
All we cousins loved her and her straightforward ways. She was a character and a true standout.
Darn, wish I had some of those cinnamon rolls right now. Thanks, Aunt Loretta.