That's my grandmother Bertha on the left---my mother's mother. Never knew her, I'm sad to have to say. Next I think is Mary, who ended up in Iowa (and did lots of canning), and then in the middle (that solid woman there) is Aunt Louise, whom I'm partially named after. On the right are (I think) Ella and Helen. I don't remember much about those two, except that in their older age they shared an apartment in Sioux Falls, where my brother & I watched roller derby on TV for the first time. I think it was Helen who used to own & run a hotel in Bridgewater, the little town in southeast South Dakota outside of which they grew up.
Aunt Louise is the one you may've heard me talk about. I didn't know her well, but I do know she ran away from the farm to Kansas City, where she bobbed her hair (a scandal back home) & worked as a theatrical seamstress. I recall hearing the implication that she lived "in sin" at least once ---with this guy, maybe?:
I don't know who that fella was, but I know they're cozy together on that bed---an unusual snapshot setting in that era, you gotta figure. Somewhere I've also got a picture of her IN DRAG. In that one her clothes are pretty goofy, as are those of the friends she's with, so it could well have been for a play or something.
When I knew her she was married to Uncle Guthrie---"Guthrie" was his last name, and that's what she called him. I don't know if anybody in the family ever even knew his first name. My folks didn't. I think he was her second legal husband, so I suppose that guy on the bed might be the first---but I prefer to think not. She never had kids. Lived in a house on The Paseo in KC until getting a touch of senility in her 90s and then dying. I remember her having quite a big presence, and as a positive, happy type to be around.
I hope to find & scan that drag shot sometime soon. I'd love for ya'll to tell me you see a queer glint in her eye. She was a bit of an Amazon, for sure---big and strong in her walk, seeming confident and assertive.
Of all my dead great aunts and uncles, Aunt Louise speaks to me most now, in her mysterious ways, and I look to my idea of her for wisdom, for strength in difference. I like to say my folks got what they were asking for, naming me after a rebel---a rebel who was undeniably my mother's favorite aunt.
After Guthrie died Louise hung with a guy who could hot-wire a car. I never thought they were romantically involved, as "Uncle Bill" was much younger and seemed to be more of a family friend, devoted to her & helping out with stuff. But you never know.
I think I might try going by just "Lou." You like?