Aunt Estelle’s big pocketbook!Posted: June 8, 2011
When I was a little girl, extended family visits were the highlight of my years. I was totally enthralled with all the cousins, aunts and uncles that used to come visit my grandparents on Seminole Drive in Marietta. I would sit in the front window straining to see past their four giant oaks to be the first to see the cars pull up from Tallahassee, Savannah and even Ohio (I have cousins that were raised up there-they have never been quite like us due to that fact). My favorite visitors were my grandfather’s two sisters. Blue-haired Great Aunts: Aunt Frances Parker Crawford from Atlanta & Aunt Estelle Parker Ireland from Savannah. They were a blast, totally in command and could hold a room like no other. They were sassy, smart, strong, independent (working women before women worked 9 to 5) and so very funny. I would wait on them hand and foot and when they gave us all $5 then I would snow someone into taking me to the drug store Dunaways or Bells Ferry Pharmacy to buy them something with the whole $5 right back. We were not wealthy, my grandparents worked for all they had, but it meant that much to spend the whole $5 on them each time they came to call. They were Parkers, my mother’s side. My father left when I was a baby and I always to this day feel 100% Parker. I think so much so, it’s weird for Aunt Estelle’s progeny to see how much of a Parker I am these days. I am glad of it. Some days I catch a glimpse of those sad, knowing and twinkling bright blue eyes in the mirror. A wash of pain goes over my face and I look away in grief of the loss of their presence. They loved well and frankly were my greatest cheerleaders, they are missed each day. I could use some more of that unconditional love, we all could!
My Aunt Estelle was from Savannah and was Ted Turner’s Dad’s personal assistant. She was a big girl and loved food. She would have a big dinner at Mema’s house and start in for her Sanka (Lord help, the coffee was so bad in those days, no Dancing Goat) and then bid me to “Go get your Aunt Estelle’s pocketbook shugah!” She asked in her throaty gravely voice that was music to my ears. As her pie ala mode was sat before her, she would ceremoniously open up her big black patent leather pocketbook with a magnetized clasp and pull out a full 8 oz. bottle of Saccharrin with a white pointy top like some sort of space age IV bottle. She would put several drops into her coffee and then start to stir. My granddaddy would then mumble, “Good Lord Sister! You just consumed 8,000 calories, I don’t think a few more with real sugar is going to matter!” She would look at him all dead pan and say, “Shut up Brother,” with so much destible affection it was adorable to watch. They, the four old siblings Frank, Estelle, Eugene and Frances loved each other so and had a common unbreakable bond of a rocky childhood in the deep South depression, work ethic, humor and integrity.
Tonight at supper, I realized I was my Aunt Estelle in the new world. After supper, I was pulling out my LARGE pocketbook which is really a Chinese silk weekender in bright turquoise with a bottle of Stevia in it. I use it to put in my espresso tonight after my fabulous Chef’s tasting. This meal was not bad burgers at the home of my beloved Mema who could not cook, nor learn to add to her bad repertoire of food. This was a thrown down of stellar goodness. I regret I never had a great meal with any of these women, unless I cooked it. But it did make me laugh to remember her post meal coffee ritual and glad I was a bit of her carrying on. Holding court at a round table and enjoying being alive. Here’s to my great Aunts whom I will never forget and wonder if they had a clue how much they would be missed.