Thursday, March 27, 2014

Remembering Aunt Dot (Redux)

My aunt, Dorothy Hertle, died in 1995 at the age of 77. It would be undiplomatic to say that she was my favorite aunt; I can and will say that she was the most fun of my five aunts.

Aunt Dot, as we called her, never married. Maybe that’s why she spent so much time entertaining her nieces and nephews. She was athletic: she was the pitcher on a women’s softball team until she broke her thumb while sledding in a Louisville park with my sister and me. She took us on trips to amusement parks and “big” cities, such as New York and Chicago. She was musical: she played the accordion and the harmonica and, at times, an organ. She (along with my mother and sister) traveled to Germany to be with my ex-wife and me when our first son was born. Aunt Dot was a most important part of my life.

She was also an amature artist. The story, as I remember it was told to me, is that when she was in high school one of her teachers suggested that she study art. Aunt Dot’s German-born mother would have none of it. She was pragmatic, it was the middle of the Great Depression, and she compelled her daughter to study “secretarial skills” rather than playing around with her drawings.

Of course, she obeyed her mother, but spent all of her life drawing and painting. I have three oil portraits that Aunt Dot painted of three of her favorite people hanging on the walls of my house. These portraits are pictured below. The paintings are better than my photography.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

President John F. Kennedy

Aunt Dot’s “favorite nephew”—me

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