To a seven-year-old girl, growing up in the semi-rural Midwest, Aunt Lulu was just plain exotic. First, she lived in the city. Here was her two-story house, right next to the neighbor’s two-story house. There was barely room to spare for a walkway between her house and the next. The house I lived in sat on a half acre and had a cornfield behind it, with overgrown empty large lots on each side.
Aunt Lulu’s house had a round glass window in the front door and heavy curtains hanging at the windows and interior doorways. It was dark and oppressive, Victorian in furnishings and unsmiling. Clinging to mother’s arms, I pictured Aunt Lulu telling fortunes in the darkened back room.
The stairs creaked under the stout woman as she descended to greet us. Her shoes were what Mom always referred to as “old maid shoes”. They were sturdy, black, with a one-inch heel as wide as the shoe, and thin lace ties. They contrasted sharply with the high heeled, pointy-toed shoes mom twirled around in with ease. Aunt Lulu, herself, was by no means old fashioned.
Aunt Lulu blended up carrot drinks in her industrial strength blender before “health food shakes” or “fruit smoothies” were a twinkle in some marketer’s eye. She also took training to be a masseuse. We are talking the fifties here; June Cleever in her pearls and heels mopping the kitchen floor. Aunt Lulu wasn’t even thinking about a glass ceiling yet and McDonald’s had not reached Indiana. My aunt had her own business, though.
Aunt Lulu, seemed to be living an unsavory and all together intriguing life to a seven-year-old. When I grew up, I found out that this gypsy was the most religious of ladies. When visiting my grandmother’s house, Aunt Lulu had insisted on religion on the radio 24 hours a day till my grandpa asked her to turn it off, and told my grandmother the woman wasn’t to visit again. Aunt Lulu went to join her Lord years ago, but I often pull out her masseuse diploma and remember the gypsy woman.