Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 19, 2003

Windy days are Ione days!

Art's Aunt Ione died almost eight years ago, but windy days make us think of her. She had a wind chime that hung on her apartment balcony and after her death, Art brought it home with him and hung it on our deck.

Perhaps it's fitting that each time the wind blows, Ione seems to be speaking to us. Just like Art's Mom, Ione and all the siblings were good talkers - some might say they were all pretty windy.

Ione never married. She was a career woman with Revlon back when single women couldn't find many jobs except as school teachers, librarians or nurses. She was based in Chicago and flew to cities all over the Midwest, teaching the store clerks at cosmetics counters how to use makeup.

But as a single good-looking woman, she also learned how to take care of herself. One night while Art, his brother and his Mom were visiting in Chicago, Ione took them to a club run by a friend of hers. On the way back to her apartment, Ione became convinced the cabby had taken them the long way back to increase his fare. Art said she used her windiness on that poor fellow until they were all certain he would have been more than happy to just leave. But when she finished sounding off, she startled the poor fellow by telling him what the fare should have been and then paid him.

But things didn't always go her way. In 1993, Art took Ione on a trip to Germany. He had been paying for most things, but when they stopped in a small mom and pop shop in Bavaria, Ione was determined it was her turn. She picked out some small item, went to the register and put her credit card down. As was the custom there, the woman explained that for such a small purchase they didn't accept credit cards. Ione just pointed to the credit card logos on the front door.

Art tried to explain to his aunt, but she was having none of it and pushed the card at the woman.

Soon the woman's husband appeared from the back. Art attempted to resolve the matter, suggesting he'd pay in cash, but Ione was not in the mood for a compromise.

Words were exchanged and soon Ione was courteously shown where the door was. Art said Ione was in a funk for several hours after that.

She also couldn't understand why people in the former East Germany might be anything other than ecstatic over reunification. Art tried to explain that middle-aged men and women who had lost their jobs and their state-owned homes in the newly reunited Germany were scared what the future held for them. Ione dismissed their concerns with, "Well, if they don't like it, they should just go back to being Communists!"

But for all her crustiness, she had a soft side too. I think everyone in the family has Christmas ornaments she made for them. We also have nativity sets, Christmas villages and trains and an Easter house she made out of plastic canvas and yarn. We remember her when we get those holiday items out every year.

Whenever we were in Wisconsin, Ione insisted we go to her place for a meal, and she was a good cook. She spent weeks making Art a special rum-laced fruit cake.

When she died, she didn't have much of value except for cash which her will specified was to be divided among her many nieces and nephews.

I'm not sure what Art did with the money - but I know where her wind chime is.

Left, Aunt Ione gave Mariya a set of hand-made ornaments for Christmas 1990.
Right, Katie enjoyed some of Aunt Ione�s creations, Christmas 1994.

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