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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Another day, another story

© Another Day in the Country

One summer, probably 20 years ago, my sister and I came to Ramona for a couple of weeks vacation. It wasn’t really leisure time, because whenever we came back to Kansas we were restoring one thing or another — a house, a porch, a chicken coop. There was always some project that needed to be done, and in the midst of these work bees we found ourselves being restored as well.

On one of those trips from California to Kansas, I told my Aunt Anna — my mother’s older sister by ten years — that I’d been writing some stories about people in Ramona. “Patricia,” she said (she always called all of us by our proper, full name), “You should contact the Marion Record about writing a column.”

“I don’t know,” I said, “I think I’d have to live here in order to write about the place or I’d run out of material.”

Anna didn’t let it drop. Some time later she wrote me a letter, and as I recall she sent me $20 in that letter, “to help you in your writing,” she said. Perhaps she thought I needed postage or the price of a couple of long-distance calls. It was her way of nudging me to write about living in the country.

My big problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to write about life in the country without including stories of the people, and I was afraid of offending the neighborhood. I needed to make up some imaginary people, like Garrison Keillor’s stories in Lake Wobegon. So, I tried changing the names in a couple of the stories I’d already written. It just didn’t work. The story seemed to lose its essence when the names changed.

We started doing a family newsletter after we purchased our first house in Ramona, and I began to include stories in what we called “The Ramona Rambles.” They were stories about our grandparents, aunts and uncles, things my cousins and I recalled from childhood. I decided to call them “Another Day in the Country.”

When we moved to Ramona in 2000, Aunt Anna dropped by one day with a loaf of homemade bread (her specialty). “Have you talked to Mr. Meyer yet, at the Marion Record, Patricia?”

That very week someone called from the newspaper about doing an interview — talk about timing. They wanted to write a story about these girls who’d moved from California. They wanted to know if we would come into the newspaper office? In the process of the interview we met Mr. Meyer and I said, “Would you be interested in a column talking about life in the country?” He was. I began. And, here we are.

In the beginning of this column, I had a host of relatives and old-time friends from whom to glean stories and information. There was Aunt Anna, Uncle Hank, Aunt Gertie, Aunt Naomi, Aunt Frieda, Tony, Eric, Mom and Dad, my sister, Tooltime Tim, even Little Em next door who gave me things to write about.

Fourteen years later the crowd has thinned considerably; but would you believe, Anna, the oldest of the lot, the family historian and matriarch, is still with us. Anna Schubert Schimming just had her 108th birthday!

In her early nineties, I remembering saying to Aunt Anna that she’d probably break the family record for longevity and live to be a hundred. “Oh, Patricia,” she said with that certain look in her eye and tilt of her head, “I have no need.” Gracious as always, concentrating to hear and recognize her guests (who’ve all changed so much through the years), Anna blew out her birthday candles. There were three: 108.

Amazing! In honor of Aunt Anna, the one who prodded me to write and publish the book, “Another Day in the Country,” the California Sisters have decided to offer 108 books, our gift to any of you who stop by the Marion County Record office and pick one up while they last. It’s one of the ways we’re saying “Happy 108th Birthday, Aunt Anna.” How blessed we are to spend another day in the country.

Last modified Sept. 25, 2014

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