This beautiful woman was my Aunt Alice. I found this photo tonight rummaging around in the basement. Alice Peabody. Yes, Peabody! She was actually my great aunt, half sister to my maternal Grandmother. She was a wild woman, married to a handsome man who was a cad, the legend went. She had a good job as a court reporter. I remember her living in a second floor apartment across from a school in St. Paul. Was it on Randolf? We’re going back 45 or more years here, memory dims. I look in awe at the elegant beauty in this photo. Certainly because of the elegance and beauty but even more so for the shocking contrast to the Aunt Alice I remember. She was a shut-in, the apartment was always heated to about 85 degrees by the radiator in front of the window that looked down on the schoolyard where I watched kids playing and wanted to be with them instead of in the sweltering apartment, even though I was informed that they were a pack of ruffians. The building in general and her apartment in particular had a distinctive smell that I haven’t smelled since, but would recognize instantly if I ever did. Alice, oh Alice, where has your elegance gone. She was a wrinkled old prune with a squawking whiskey soaked voice like a chain smoking parrot. In my memory she always was sipping whiskey and smoking Old Golds. She wore a house dress and exposed way more leg than I ever wanted to see. Her hair was like a frightened brillo pad. I dreaded my trips to see her and also looked forward to them. She was so damn funny! She would tell a story and crack herself up and start cackling and then would lapse into paroxysms of coughing. She told hilarious family stories and was tapped into an endless source of political gossip. She sat there in that overheated apartment and enjoyed life. It was emphysema that finally got her I think, but she was well into her 80’s when it did. She was what you call “a pistol.”

8 thoughts on “

  1. For some reason, I want to invoke the lyrics of “White Rabbit”….          Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know!

  2. She is indeed beautiful and elegant. In my humble opinion, for some reason, our previous generation was really more beautiful and elegant than our generation. And our next generation seems to be defying such elegance and beauty. Maybe the  reference of what beauty is has been changed. My question would be: Will our next next next generation think that our next generation be elegant ? If so, how crazy would that generation be ? Hard to imagine …

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