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My Favorite Aunt

Paul is a retired American expat living in Thailand. Besides being an English teacher and translator, Paul likes languages and most sports.

My Favorite Aunt

Author with Aunt Sissy

Author with Aunt Sissy

I am very fortunate to have had Aunt Anna (Sissy) Foss living all of my life. From the time I was a young boy through the present, I have shared many good times with my wonderful aunt.

In this article, after describing Sissy's early life, I first recall my aunt and her family in Spencer, Wisconsin, when I was a boy in the early 1950s.

Next, I share memories of Sissy and her family in the late 1960s.

Finally, I fondly remember my aunt from the 1990s, early 2000s, and most recently in 2018 and 2019. These memories will show why Sissy is my favorite aunt.

My Aunt's Early Life

My favorite aunt Anna Foss was born in February 1924, in Marshfield, Wisconsin. She was the third child of William and Pauline Schmidt. My mother Dorothy Kuehn born in 1920 was Anna's older sister. Raymond or Raymie was Anna's older brother. Anna also had a younger brother Leo born in 1926 and a younger sister Donna Breu born in 1935. Anna's youngest sister Mary Asplin born in 1943 is still living.

Mom had called Anna "Sissy" and this nickname had stuck with the other members of the Schmidt family. On one occasion, mom had remarked that Leo had used to sing, "Oh just to hear the bacon sizzling, Sissy, in the pan," when he had been young

Both my mom and Aunt Sissy had worked in a shoe factory in Stratford outside of Marshfield during the early 1940s.

After my aunt had met Laverne Foss from a neighboring town, they got married in 1945. Laverne had been in the Army during the Second World War.

My first memories of Aunt Sissy are from around the early 1950s. Mom and dad would drive from West Allis up to Marshfield every summer. My younger sister Beatrice and I had always looked forward to the trip up north because we would get to sleep upstairs in grandma and grandpa's house. We would also be able to play with young Aunt Mary and Aunt Sissy's kids.

By 1953, Sissy and Laverne Foss had four children -- Carol, Jerry, Darryl, and Larry. Carol was a couple of years younger than me and Jerry and Darryl about three and four years younger respectively. Although Sissy and Laverne had lived near Spencer, they would come to see our family in Marshfield when we had visited and we would go out to visit in Spencer.

Since Aunt Sissy already had had four kids by 1953, my dad had joked that she and Laverne were trying to make a baseball team.

While playing one day at grandma's house on North Walnut, either Darryl or I had thrown a ball and broken a window in the living room. Mom had been angry with me but Sissy I guess had persuaded mom not to give me a spanking.

By the early 1950s, Laverne had gotten out of the Army. One day he had come down to our apartment in West Allis and said he was joining the Foreign Legion. He also had borrowed about $20 from dad to buy a tire for his car.

Memories of Aunt Sissy and Family in 1967

After dad had started farming in 1954, I very seldom had traveled to Marshfield. Although I had made trips up north in 1956 and 1960, I cannot recollect seeing Aunt Sissy or any of her family. While in college, I had had no time to go to Marshfield, and Aunt Sissy never had come down to see us on the farm near Honey creek.

In June 1967, however, before I had gone into the Navy, I can recall meeting Darryl and Laverne in Aunt Donna's and Joe's tavern in Hewitt. At that time, Laverne had been either separated or just divorced from Aunt Sissy. After we had left the tavern, Darryl had given me a ride on his motorcycle all around Marshfield. Oddly, I cannot remember seeing Aunt Sissy then, even though she had moved into Marshfield from Spencer.

Recalling Aunt Sissy in the 1980s

Mom on left and Aunt Sissy on the right.  Picture taken around 1986.

Mom on left and Aunt Sissy on the right. Picture taken around 1986.

My next memories of Aunt Sissy are from the 1980s. Although I hadn't seen her since 1953, I do know that Aunt Sissy had moved from Chestnut St. and had purchased a small house on Blodgett a couple of houses away from Saint John's Catholic Church.

While she was going to vet school, my sister Pat fondly remembers how Aunt Sissy allowed her to stay in Sissy's house for two weeks during the summer of 1985. Pat had been doing an internship with a vet clinic in Marshfield between her third and fourth year of vet school. Pat always talks about how kind and generous Aunt Sissy had been to her.

After mom had retired from her job in 1982 and dad had sold his cows in 1985, my parents would often travel to Marshfield for weddings or to visit my three aunts. They often would spend a night in Aunt Sissy's home.

At a wedding in Marshfield.  In back L to R:  Jim Asplin, Aunt Sissy, Dodie Schmidt, Raymond Schmidt, dad, Joe Breu.  Front l to r:  Aunt Mary, Aunt Donna, mom

At a wedding in Marshfield. In back L to R: Jim Asplin, Aunt Sissy, Dodie Schmidt, Raymond Schmidt, dad, Joe Breu. Front l to r: Aunt Mary, Aunt Donna, mom

Seeing Aunt Sissy in the 1990s

From left to right:  author, Aunt Sissy, mom, and dad.  Taken in 1994.

From left to right: author, Aunt Sissy, mom, and dad. Taken in 1994.

After I divorced my first wife Mona in 1992, I would travel yearly from Maryland to Wisconsin to visit mom, dad, and my siblings. On almost every trip, dad had insisted that I drive his car and take mom and him up to Marshfield. While there, we would always see Aunt Donna, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Sissy. They were mom's only siblings that had still been living.

Although we had stayed with Aunt Donna on one occasion, the other times had been spent sleeping in Sissy's home. I always had had a big bedroom upstairs with a very comfortable bed. On almost every visit, we had had barbecues for supper. Then we had driven to a nearby casino. Aunt Donna had usually accompanied us. After a restful night, we always had had gourmet pastries and coffee for breakfast.

Mom and I had visited Aunt Sissy in Marshfield for the last time in May 2004. Dad had just passed away, so it hadn't been a happy trip.

Most Recent Memories of Aunt Sissy

From 2004 until 2016, I had seldom thought about Aunt Sissy. After I had started doing ancestry research toward the end of 2016, however, I decided to get in contact with Aunt Sissy again. Through Aunt Mary, Larry's wife Pam, and Sissy's daughter Carol whom I all knew on Facebook, I was able to find out Aunt Sissy's phone number. I started calling my aunt on Christmas Day in 2016. Since then, I have called Aunt Sissy on her birthday in February and on Christmas every year.

In July 2018, my sister Pat and I made a long overdue trip to Marshfield to visit Aunt Sissy. Although we were only in her home for a couple of hours, we were able to meet cousin Larry and his wife Pam along with Sissy's two granddaughters Sandy and Angie who had traveled from Minnesota.

In June 2019, Pat and I made another trip to see Aunt Sissy. Sissy was alert and bubbling with enthusiasm as usual. She was hard of hearing, so we had to speak loudly.

This time, cousin Carol and her partner Bill were there along with Larry and Pam.

Although Aunt Sissy hurt her leg and was hospitalized with vertigo in October, she is doing much better now. Sissy can also hear much better with a hearing aid.

When I look at Aunt Sissy, I see a reflection of my mother. Mom was kind and generous and so is Aunt Sissy. I guess this is why Aunt Sissy is my favorite aunt.

Aunt Sissy and cousin Carol with author.  Taken in June 2019.

Aunt Sissy and cousin Carol with author. Taken in June 2019.

Cousin Larry and author.  Taken in June 2019.

Cousin Larry and author. Taken in June 2019.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Paul Richard Kuehn

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