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Carol Perkins: My grandmother and her sister Annie

'People in their communities gravitated toward my grandmother and her sister. I hope I can live my life as they did,' Carol Perkins writes as she looks back on wonderful memories of her grandmother Bettie Strange Reece. and her sister, Annie Strange Reece, memories of Adair County, and Metcalfe, and of Glasgow and Bowling Green times.
Next previous Carol Perkins column: Carol Perkins: On spending money

By Carol Perkins

I was driving down North Race Street headed toward the square and slowed in front of a familiar house. "You remember this house don't you?" I said to my mother. She immediately replied, "Yes, it was Aunt Annie's." My great aunt and uncle, Annie and Lenis Reece, lived in this white clapboard house with the half porch that wrapped around the side, and I spent many afternoons sitting in the swing while my grandmother visited her only sister. The house, the yard, and the street seemed much larger then.

Aunt Annie was the former Annie Strange, sister of my grandmother Bettie Strange. They grew up in Adair County. Annie married Lenis Reece and Bettie married Rufus Reece, who were related, but not brothers.

Aunt Annie was a petite woman who rose every morning, rolled her hair, and dressed for the day as if she were going to an event. I never saw her that she didn't look picture perfect even in her "duster." I equated her style with Rose Kennedy's. Her clothing was tasteful and so was her house. She knew how to set a table and decorate without the benefit of HGTV.

Aunt Annie (Strange) married Lenis Reece, who was a teacher and a principal. I never saw Uncle Lenis without his suit even after he retired. My mother and her siblings were very close to Aunt Annie's children: Morris, Edna, Jesse, Billy Ann, Jackie, Jerry, Helen and Carter. I never knew Morris, Edna, or Helen, but I would come to know the rest of the children and many of their children.

I liked visiting Aunt Annie because she was witty and fun. She laughed easily and when my grandmother was with her, she was like a little girl. The two of them were quite a pair. At the time, I thought they were both old. They were probably in their 60's, which is younger than I am now.

Aunt Annie and Uncle Lenis eventually moved to Bowling Green to be near one of their granddaughters. Their home was down a street from the old hospital near the water tower. I just knew when I parked my car out front, it was going to jump out of park and end up near the square. Even as both sisters aged, we family members continued to take my grandmother to see "Sister Annie" or her sister came to see her.

I especially remember one time when they fussed about clothing. Aunt Annie knew my grandmother could afford "store bought" dresses but would not buy herself any. She liked her dresses and made them because she liked to sew and they fit her. Aunt Annie wanted her to have some more stylish ones from Norman's or Pushin's.

"Bettie, you come down here and we'll go shopping. I'll help you pick out some dresses." My grandmother didn't see anything wrong with hers and left in a huff. They were both in their early 80's by then.

Later I said to my mother, "I can't believe they "got into it."

My mother said, "That's just being sisters." She was right.

People in their communities gravitated toward my grandmother and her sister. I hope I can live my life as they did.

Carol Perkins

This story was posted on 2015-09-17 03:57:09
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