Aunt Helen was a woman cut from similar cloth as her sister Estella, but was not as extreme with her neatness. She had six children and to have been as neat as Estella, Helen would have had to stay awake twenty-four hours a day. Helen was very routine oriented and industrious. She assigned her work to follow a daily pattern; one job and one room per day. Each day she would have a chore to do and a room to clean. The room she cleaned was not just a dust and mop, but was like a normal person’s Spring cleaning of a room. For example, if she had Monday as her day to wash and dry clothes, she would clean a bedroom too. If she chose Tuesday to iron the washed clothing, she would clean another bedroom. Wednesday could be her shopping day and another room got cleaned. Thursday maybe the bake day and clean the kitchen. Friday another chore and the living room, and so on.
Each room was painted a bright color; turquoise, coral, and flamingo pink. She got her desire for bright colors from her mom, Anna Kalp Beck. Grandma Beck’s kitchen had deep red linoleum tile floor, royal blue Congoleum half-way up the wall, the top half of the walls was painted a bright yellow, and the hand fashioned wall cupboards were pale mint green. The curtains at the windows were pale lavender. I know that it sounds horrible, but the longer a person sat in her kitchen, the more the mélange grew on the person.
Aunt Helen had the undesirable distinction of having been struck by lightning several times. She was on the different porches of her house. The concrete floors were damp. The strikes were close to her and the electricity came up through the floor and through her bare feet to shock and caused her body to tingle.
Helen had a more square face and was shorter than her sister Estella. Estella was thin while Helen had a pudgy little belly. It was funny to watch her sometimes. When you would be talking to her, she would agree with you as you talked, saying, “Yes” frequently. Her response of yes was forceful and clipped which made her belly bounce.
Mom and Dad took her and her family along to Idlewild, an amusement park near Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Helen, no matter where she went was dressed to the nines; high heels, dress, pearls, and her ever present hand bag.
We walked and rode everything in the park. Mom called Helen the next day to see how she liked the park. Helen told my mom that she had huge blisters on her feet from the high heeled shoes and walking on the pea-sized gravel that covered the walkways at the park.
Jokingly Mom said, “Well Helen, are you ready to go again today?”
Helen laughed and said, “Yes.” I can just imagine her with the phone to her ear and her pudgy belly bouncing in agreement.