My husband comes from a small family, so he doesn’t have a vast supply of stories about wacky relatives to enliven dinner parties. One exception is his great aunt, Edith Christine Smith (1888-1968), known to the family as Auntie Chris. She would visit every Christmas bringing a big plum pudding, which no one liked. According to him and his sister, her dinner conversation consisted mainly of sharing her methods to remain regular. She never married and for them embodied stereotypical qualities of a maiden aunt, with old fashioned clothes and cantankerous ways.
My niece Jessie, the historian of my husband’s family, knew more about Auntie Chris. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she was in charge of book binding at the Brooklyn Public Library.
This photo, taken by my sister-in-law when she was nine (!), shows Auntie Chris at Jones Beach. She would have been around sixty-seven here. Her sunglasses and short sleeves appear to be her only concessions to the sunny beach environment. The dress, or skirt and top combination, is a coordinated outfit which she has dressed up with a pin–or is that a pocket with a handkerchief? No one remembers her without her sensible shoes, and this beach snap shot is no exception. But of course, the tam o’ shanter on her head takes the cake!