Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Viola



This old Cadillac rests peacefully on the side of the road in a neighboring county. Cadillacs are nice cars, no doubt, but we sure didn't see a whole lot of 'em growing up in Mathews County. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever ridden in one at all. I was fortunate enough to ride in a Lincoln Continental a few times with my grandmother's sister. If you can stay awake until the end of this post, you'll be the only one understand how.

My Great Aunt Viola, who we called Vollie because nobody could say Viola--and by the way, it was pronounced VOW-la, not Vie-OH-la, VOWla and this sentence is now over because I forgot the verb. Also? Her sister/my grandmother Bernice's name was pronounced BERniss, emphasis on the first syllable.

(Asleep yet? Hang tight. It's only a matter of time.)

Anywho, Vollie was married to a man named Douglas who owned M&G Transportation in Gloucester. M&G, which stands for Mathews and Gloucester, was in the building that's currently a seafood operation right next to the old antique store which used to be where my English teacher (Mrs. Martin) lived on Route 14...near that silo that has the pumpkin on it. Also, Chesapeake Bay Father used to drive tractor trailers for Douglas, and that's how he met Chesapeake Bay Mother.

(NOW are you asleep? If not, surely you're in a coma.)

Vollie was one of the funniest people who ever graced this planet, and that's a fact. She was an odd combination of Lilly Tomlin meets the Three Stooges--all three of them. Her laugh alone was hilarious, but the stories that came along with it--told in that slow, thick Tidewater accent--were even better. She was so funny she made herself laugh.

Sometimes it was hard to believe she was my dear Nanny's sister. Nanny worked jobs ranging from country store owner to janitor at Eastern State Hospital all her life. With just enough money to scrape by, lacking both a driver's license and a car, she had to walk to the store to buy groceries even in her sixties. Vollie had her own cook and drove a lap dog named Pepper around in a Lincoln Continental (or as Archie Bunker calls it a Lincoln Contarental).

In spite of the difference in creature comforts, though, you'd never know they were anything but sisters if you saw them together. The only discernible difference was Vollie was the happy, funny one and Nanny was the cautious one worrying about everything.

Although I've told this about Great Aunt Vollie before (thousands of posts ago, I'm sure you remember....are you asleep YET?), it is worth repeating. One time she and my mother were in the grocery store, and, spying some shrimp Vollie exclaimed very loudly, "Oh look! It's cock shrimptail!" She was also the one who was dying to see the movie Porkies and didn't discover until well after the movie started that, much to her chagrin, it had nothing to do with Porky the Pig.

She never intended to be funny, but she always was. I miss her and her dog named Pepper, but most of all I miss her laughter and that of those lucky enough to see the Vollie Show.

18 comments:

Maria from NJ said...

What wonderful women you've had in your life. No wonder you are so funny.

TSannie said...

I didn't fall asleep ONCE reading that - but now I hope to. It's 1am for God's sake! (And I so would have loved to met Aunt Vollie & hubs in person!) xoabb

TSannie said...

That should read "to HAVE met". Not an English major, but I do know what's proper and true!

Angela said...

I think my great-Aunt Mimi was a bit like her. Praise great-aunties for having given us (that correct?)such happy memories. My Aunt Mimi once played hide and seek with us children, and because she had pretty much to hide and did not want to crouch down, she just fetched a potato sack and held it in front of her. Invisible!

Angel Mama said...

Scary - My mom used to work at M&G, so did my brother for a while (he drove a truck, mom worked in the office). My mom used to pick up your Aunt Vollie and they went to weight watchers together ages ago. I was very young then. That must have been after your Aunt couldn't drive anymore. Did you by chance know Horace Oliver who died years ago? That was mom's first husband, I am drawing a blank, maybe ?Carl Thomas - I may be close with the name - he set them up. NO - Carlton Douglas. Was one of my mom's best friends!

Ann Marie said...

I would have LOVED Aunt VOWla! She sounds like the type that would leave a party after being the life of it.. and her husband shaking his head because she has once again caused a ruckus and she exclaims.. "What??" and she really doesn't know that she did something special. .

Angel Mama said...

My hour long drive refreshed my memory...

My mom lived a few doors down from your Aunt Vollie. This was before Horace Lee passed away. Carl Douglas actually hooked up my mom and MY dad after Horace Lee had passed away. This was 40 years ago!

My mom's parents lived up on the hill on the right just before Ware Neck. It is the house behind the place with the windmill.

What a small world. I have alot of family in Mathews, too. I bet you know some of them.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I had a great aunt Violet, and she was Aunt Vivi - first i is long, second i is a long eeee. That's where the similarity between your great aunt and mine ends, though. But she had her own great quirks and features that we still talk about even years after she died. She always had a candy dish full of candy. Her cooking ingredient philosophy was, if a little bit's good, more must be better. (I have adopted this as my own.) And while she was the most generous giver in the whole world, she really had trouble receiving. If my grandma (her sister) would bring her a container full of sugar cookies, she would return it full of something SHE had made.

I miss 'em both, those sisters! I'm glad you're here to keep these stories alive.

Daryl said...

I assume it was pronounced DOOG lass... s friend's sister is called BUR netta .. its spelled Bernnetta.

In our family,I am Aunt Viola .. "Shark!" ... have you heard my snort-laugh?

WV: packeger ... someone who packs kegs OR the political definition: Keg Special Interest Lobbyer

Linda said...

Great Aunts are Great! My Great Aunt Hazel, we called Granny. What a pistol! She sure sopke her mind. This apple didn't fall too far from that tree;-)

Mental P Mama said...

My great aunts were: Zoola, Two, Ewing and Linnie. Can you tell I'm from Tennessee?

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I had an Aunt Colleen, Lessie and Florence. Aunt Colleen was bossy as hell, Aunt Lessie was a nut case but Aunt Florence could fry up some chicken before she forgot how to. God rest all their souls!

Grandma J said...

I'm on my way out the door for a 3-4 test with nuclear perfusion...which may make me blow up...so if I do, remember i love you guys.

Ok, so Ill be back to read more about Viola who pronounces it different from my aunt Viola!

Don't forget to enter my contest! The prize is chocolate! :)

foolery said...

I visit my last remained great aunt about once a week here in the town where I work. She's 91, lives alone, still drives (though not often), and (though she says 5'9") she was at least 6'0" at her full height and is probably still 5'9 or 10", because she's taller than me. I take after her more than any other person, probably, and we are great friends. Great aunts are the best.

p.s.: I had a great-great aunt Bernice, pronounced the same way. She had New England roots so maybe it's an eastern thing?

Annie said...

think that you hit a nerve there with the AUNT's story...she sounds great!

love to hear that foolery still visits her aunt each week...very important...what a lucky aunt!

I also had an Aunty Vi...I don't know what her full name was. She was a nice lady. I also play tennis with a Vi...she is also a very nice lady!

Caution Flag said...

I've never had relatives like that. Didn't even marry into relatives like that. BUT I did know a lady named Y-vone-a. We lived in Kentucky and it took me years to understand that her name was spelled Yvonne.

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

Oh my Gosh!!!! Funninest thing I have read ALL DAY LONG!!!! And by no means did I fall asleep.

My former grandmother-in-law was a BERniss too (Bernice) and her middle name was Eunice pronounced EUniss. She wasn't funny though. Not even a little.

Scott Berger said...

You forgot one of Viola's favorite sayings. I remember hearing the words "I do declare" everytime I came off the porch and into the living room to see her!

I swear cousin Cindy said it "vi-lee"

I miss her. She always made me feel at home there.