|Aunt Audrey with two of her daughters |
enjoying her 90th birthday party
She married my Uncle Jack Cousart, my father's elder brother, in March 1943, during World War II. Soon after their wedding, the Army shipped him out to the European Theater, where he spent time in France. She lived with his parents and worked at an office job while he was away.
My father, Bob Cousart, joined the Coast Guard and was sent to Alaska, where he met and married my mother, daughter of missionaries, Charles and Florence Personeus. In late 1944, they were transferred back to Barnegat Lighthouse on the New Jersey shore.
I was born in Philadelphia at the end of the war. We returned to Alaska when I was two and a half, so my first memories of Aunt Audrey were made when we flew east for a visit when I was in kindergarten, and again in second grade and fifth grade.
She and Uncle Jack never owned a car. Philadelphia has an extensive transit system of buses, the El, and subways. On my first visit, I remember trolleys, but they were soon replaced. Whenever we visited, Aunt Audrey arranged for friends to pick us up at the airport and drive us where we needed to go. And, of course, we rode the buses and the El.
We usually stayed with my Cousart grandparents in their row house on South Conestoga Street in west Philadelphia, just off Baltimore Avenue. We kids loved it when we went to Aunt Audrey's house to play with our cousins. Aunt Audrey was a great cook and made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Our visits to the zoo are among my favorite memories of those trips.
One special memory I have of Aunt Audrey was the summer of 1961 when I won a trip to New York City and the United Nations. I traveled with 35 other teens from the Pacific Northwest by educational bus tour across Canada and back across the northern United States, stopping at historical sites all along the way. During the week in New York City, our activities included a boat trip around New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Aunt Audrey rode the train to NYC from Philadelphia to join up with me for the boat trip.
The next week, our tour took us to Philadelphia to Independence Hall and all the sites of interest including Longwood Gardens. Aunt Audrey, my cousins, and my grandparents met up with me as we toured the city. Of course, Aunt Audrey was the one who made it all happen.
The next summer, my whole family drove from Alaska to Philadelphia so my dad could itinerate to raise support for his missions work in Alaska. Unused to hot, humid weather, we Alaskans sweltered in the oppressive heat in the city. Aunt Audrey opened her home in Lansdowne to us. Although it meant a lot of extra work for her, she entertained us with delicious meals and much fun in her tree-lined neighborhood.
|Our first Christmas together, I wore my new dress.|
After a year stationed in Germany, Bob and I returned to the USA just in time to attend my Cousart grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
For the next five months, while Bob attended the US Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Baltimore, we drove up many weekends to overnight with Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey. How we enjoyed her wonderful roast pork dinners!
It was in their home that my son, Bobby, at 3 months of age, met his Cousart great-grandparents for the first and only time. Granddad died 9 months later. Over the years, we visited Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey whenever we could. She and Uncle Jack rode the train to attend Bobby's wedding to Sabrina in Port Chester, New York, in 1991. In 1998, when my parents came east for the last time, Bob and I drove them to Lansdowne to visit. My granddaughter, Sophia, then 5, accompanied us. Aunt Audrey gave her a stuffed elephant she'd made.
Uncle Jack and Aunt Audrey's house has always been my East Coast home. Many of my Alaska homes have been destroyed, but 151 Windermere Avenue was the one seemingly permanent link with my youth. After Uncle Jack passed away, though, Aunt Audrey found it increasingly difficult to keep up the property, so she sold it and moved to a senior living apartment in Rosemont. Whenever we could, we would stop by for a visit to take her out for lunch.
Then she moved to Glen Arm, Maryland, to live closer to her eldest daughter. We visited her a couple of times. The last time we saw her was at her 90th birthday party. On my birthday she always sent me a card and a note, and every Christmas she'd call me to chat and to thank me for the Daily Guideposts I sent her for Christmas. This past Christmas, I received a card but no note and no phone call. I knew she was failing, so I was not surprised to hear that she had slipped away to her heavenly home to be reunited with her dear husband, whom she missed greatly.
For her 80th birthday, I created this alphabetized list of things I associated with her, things that describe who she was:
Apple dishes, Antiques, Art
Buttons (she had a large collection), Books, Buses
Chocolate chip cookies, Cloth napkins with rings, Chicken salad
|Aunt Audrey with her apple dishes|
Ellie the Elephant she made for my granddaughter
Family gatherings, Fun times
Good Gravy, Guided tours of Kerhonkson & Rosemont
Horn & Hardart's automated food service in NYC (a new experience for me), Hospitality, Happy times
"Just around the corner" (everything was "just around the corner")
Lansdowne Presbyterian Church
No air conditioning
Overnight visits from Baltimore
Pork roasts, Pies
Quality time with Quite a lot of talking
Riding the El, Reupholstering
Sauerkraut, ham, and Swiss on rye Sandwiches, Sewing, Shopping
Travel (though she never owned a car, she could travel anywhere by train), Trains, Trolleys, Tablecloths
Walking, Windermere Avenue, Wanamaker's
Zest for living!
Goodbye, Aunt Audrey! I'll miss you! I'll never forget you.