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MY AUNT BETTY
by Linda Vincent
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Aunt Betty and Uncle Charlie   Being kin to the Escapules means a lot of long-lived locals to the Tombstone area, and an awful lot of past memories. It's not easy narrowing it down to one story at a time, when there is just so much in my mind screaming to be shared. Since I do have to begin somewhere, my Aunt Betty is a wonderful subject to start with. However, I cannot bring her into the picture without first mentioning my Uncle Charlie, for if he had not taken her for his bride I could never have claimed her as my Aunt.

   Uncle Charlie was the most handsome man a girl could ever lay eyes upon, not to mention his kind ways, intelligence, and creative abilities. Even if his face were hidden you could always tell if it was Uncle Charlie in a photo by the missing section of finger on his left hand since he was just a child. Chopped off down in Walnut Gulch by a heavy iron wheel, there may have been hope of reattaching the severed joint to his little hand, if not for my mom's pet crow "Snowball" snatching up the small morsel and flying away with it.

   When Charlie met the eye pleasing Betty Foster everyone knew it was a perfect match, for she was just as intelligent, and creative as he was, not to mention the glow of love surrounding them and their lives when they were together. I can barely remember a time when Aunt Betty was not a part of my life. Always my mentor she taught me all that any young un ought to know about growing into a fine human being. When we weren't out here in Arizona visiting she was my pen pal, and when we were we were nearly inseparable.

   There isn't much in my adult life that hasn't been based around what she taught me, or I just simply learned from watching her. I was well trained on the more important teachings in life such as how to revive a drowned fly in a dollop of salt, or how to mix up, roll out, and fry tortillas from a bit of flour, lard, water and salt, always measuring the perfect teaspoonful in the palm of her hand. I learned how to make bread too, only the dough became much whiter as time passed, and I became more experienced than I was with that first small black loaf I had worked so hard as a young child.

   Aunt Betty could do anything at all with very little effort, for it seemed that everything came so easily to her. Of course it was difficult for me to understand at a young age just why she was so multi-talented, but I sure do realize now that her abilities all stemmed from the hard toils she experienced as a child growing up, which was just part of a normal life to her. She cared for her father and brothers from such a young age, doing all needed chores from preparing meals for the ranch hands, to helping build a cabin made of timber and mud for them to bunk in. That very cabin is now a historical treasure next to the San Pedro House on hwy. 90. She giggles about that old structure now being a landmark, but I am a proud niece sending all that visit, to view a bit of my beloved Aunt's past.

   She taught me how to squeeze an egg as hard as I could in the palm of my hand, with it never breaking, until we pulled a trick on my cousin with an egg that had a hairline crack, and the yolk was definitely on him! She taught me how to sew with fine floral yard goods that were nothing more than emptied feed sacks, how to milk goats, collect eggs, and sketch horses with a pencil and pad.

   Aunt Betty was the greatest animal lover I have yet to meet, taking in all the homeless creatures, be it furry, feathered, or scaled, giving them all a loving home for life. She could hatch baby chicks from eggs, help birth any newborn when a mama was in need of aide, and always had a cure for any ailment if a harmed critter was gently carried to her. She just seemed to have a special touch with everything.

   Anything Aunt Betty said was as good as gold to me, for I trusted in her with my life. Who else could have gotten me to eat goat or cow tongue, and actually like it?! She tended to her family, her home, her gardens, her animals, and anyone or anything else that needed tending too, always there to lend a helping hand. She and Uncle Charlie were always there to care for the sick, elderly, or needy in any form or fashion, never voicing a complaint, no matter how inconvenient the timing may turn out to be for their own personal lives.

   There's been nothing in my life that wasn't based around something my Aunt taught me about being a decent individual. I have failed miserably at times, but then I stop and think "What would Aunt Betty do?" and I try to make it right again. I strived to become a carbon copy of my Aunt, and all she had done, be it human, animal, or material, such as envisioning all sorts of fun innovations in creating my homes. Equaling her creativity in building has been quite a challenge with my attempts at accomplishing anything comparable to her hand made stone wall that frames the aquarium made from a five gallon bucket and a 1947 Chevy windshield, but it has taught me that my visions always have a possibility of becoming reality. I shall never be able to recite all the knowledge she has gained and shared with me over the years, nor will I ever be as kind, giving, and patient as she has been, but I am still a work in progress, never giving up hope of reaching my goal. Although I have been unable to see her as often as I had dreamed of doing all those many years I lived so far from here, she is and always will be close to my heart, whether it be in person or in my thoughts. Thank you to my special friend .... my Aunt Betty. •

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