In honor of Aunt Jean who passed away a year ago today:
Aunt Jean was an Australian blonde beauty who married my husband’s uncle in 1945. During World War II, Uncle Mike was stationed in Australia. He met Jeannie at a dance contest, won the contest and her heart. At 18 years old, she moved to New Jersey without knowing a soul, moved in with my husband’s family and stayed here mostly, for the rest of her life.
Jeannie worked in New York City. She had copious stories about all the famous and infamous people she met, more by accident than on purpose, which may be one of the greatest gifts most of us are missing by not listening to the tales of the elderly.
Her friend Mae was a live-in housekeeper in a high-fallootin’ building on the Upper East Side. When Mae’s employer went out of town, she was allowed to have her own guests over for dinner. So Jeannie and her friend Ellie got all dressed up just to go in the fancy building and up the elevator to Mae’s apartment.
Now the point of this story from Aunt Jean’s perspective was, as I was making dinner, she wanted to tell me how great her Irish buddy, Mae, concocted Brussels sprouts, so I could do the same. Something to do with sautéing them in onions and butter and bacon. But this is how she got to the Brussels sprouts recipe.
“So we were in the elevator going up to the penthouse and in walks a very handsome black man. My friend, Ellie is pulling at my sleeve and gesturing to me that this is someone I’m supposed to recognize. She’s rolling her eyes and trying to be cool, while the gentlemen is politely staring straight ahead. Finally, it hits me and I say:
“Excuse me Mr. Poitier, it’s so nice to meet you. Do you live in this building?”
“Why yes, I do. Do you?”
“No,” I say, “we are just visiting friends.” I said it like we weren’t visiting the housekeeper, of course.
“Well, that’s nice. And what is your name?”
“My name is Jean and this is my friend, Ellie.”
With that the elevator door opens for Mr. Poitier’s floor and as he gets off he says, “So very nice to meet you, Jean and Ellie. Have a lovely evening.”
“AUNT JEAN!” I said, “you met , Sidney Poitier????? You never told me that.”
“Oh, yes lovey that was fun, but let me tell you about the Brussels Sprouts, I’ve never had any so delicious.”
We miss you Aunt Jean, because whenever you were around….
“We just had to Laugh……”