Visitors to the Easter Upper Peninsula

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By Sharon M. Kennedy

Every summer my aunts and uncles from downstate packed their cars and drove to the sideroad. Mom’s sister, Marie, pictured to the far left in the photo, always spent two weeks at the old homestead, the house across the road from where I live. Her brother, Pete, lived in Royal Oak. He and his wife, Pat, who is hugging me, usually came earlier or later than Aunt Marie and Uncle Francis, but in this photo it’s obvious the four visited at the same time. Neither couple was blessed with children.

Aunt Marie loved to cook. There were two specialties she prepared—beet soup and yellow (wax) bean soup. She didn’t call beet soup borscht so we kids grew up calling it what she did. My siblings and I couldn’t stomach either, but there was no arguing with our Aunt. We downed as much as we could. The beets weren’t too bad, but their slimy green tops were disgusting. The bean soup was made with a gravy-like base. The vegetables were fresh because they came from Uncle Steve’s garden. It was his house where my aunts and uncles spent their vacations. It was this house that would one day come to me only to be snatched away three years after his death.

I don’t remember what Aunt Pat cooked, but I do know she didn’t like Uncle Pete’s beer. He had to hide it from her. He wasn’t a drunk, but you know how some wives are. They demand complete control over their henpecked husband. Aunt Pat was always polite and quite formal. I don’t know what she thought of Topsy, the sissy Detroit dog that belonged to Uncle Francis. He probably insisted she be included in the picture.

Everyone on the steps is gone now except my brother and (surprise) yours truly. It’s anyone’s guess which one of us will soon join the others. If Aunt Marie is cooking in God’s kitchen, I hope beet and wax bean soups aren’t on the menu.

Sharon, siblings, Mother, Aunts

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