My mother’s youngest sister Glenna was a piece of work, as they say. As the youngest of 4 girls born during the depression, she was a bit of a wild child. She was the most petite of all the girls, wore ruby-red lipstick and had platinum blonde hair, right until the day she dies. Those attributes, along with a wild child attitude and Glenna had eloped with her boyfriend before she was 18 years old.
Over the years Glenna had kids, divorced her husband and moved around a bit. My memories of her when I was little include; her living at and running a “campground”, which was really a place in Wisconsin where families rented trailers and spend a week or so at the lake. She had a bright red pickup truck with wood guard rails on the bed – painted on the side were the words ‘Lil Red Truck’. She wore far too much Amway perfume, smoked, didn’t take care of her diabetes and struggled financially in her later years. Each year on her birthday my mother would take her out to wherever she wanted…..inevitably they would end up at The Cheetah Club on Milwaukee Road & Rt 22 in Lincolnshire to watch the male stripper show before they opened the doors to the men about 11 pm.
Aunt Glenna was always looking for love. In the late 80’s when personal ads were becoming more mainstream, Aunt Glenna was in the thick of it. She was living with my mom and dad at the time, working to get back on her feet…..and mom and dad were living with my brother and his wife helping out as they just purchased their first home and had 4 kids to contend with. Glenna was writing to men all over the country, sweet talking with them on the phone and a few times going to stay with them for a week or so to “test the waters”. She was looking for a husband.
It was during one of these visits when my mother got a phone call from a social worker in Wisconsin. Evidently, Aunt Glenna had taken a bus up to stay with a farmer she had met through the personal ads. After 2 weeks of Glenna living there, she confronted the farmer about when they were going to get married. When he seemed surprised by the question and responded “I was never going to MARRY you, she grabbed a kitchen steak knife and proceeded to stab the man in the butt several times.
The police were called, she was put in jail and since she didnt live in Wisconsin and was staying with my parents at the time, the court appointed social worker called my mother. Mom sent bus fare to get Glenna home, engaged social services in Illinois and eventually Glenna got back on her feet. The incident was long forgotten until Mothers Day 1992.
By this time, my parents had both retired and were living in a small town in Wisconsin not far from Kenosha. On this particular Mothers Day, my Nana, Aunt Shirley and Aunt Glenna all drove up to spend the day at my parents house. As they arrived, my father was helping my Nana into the house when Glenna collapsed in the driveway. With the volunteer rescue squad just down the street help was there quickly, but it was too late.
My mother and Aunt Shirley went to the hospital later that date to take care of the death certificate and other arrangements and while waiting in the hallway my mother was approached by a police officer. “Mrs. Geitner, did your sister ever live in Wisconsin?”. “No” my mother responded, “Why?” The police offer proceeded to tell my m other about the outstanding warrant for Glenna’s arrest for assault and battery as well as jumping bail. My mother had forgotten all about the incident with the farmer. As it turned out, when she sent Glenna money to pay for the bus fare and her “fine”, it was actually bus fare and BAIL MONEY. My mother was horrified. Aiding and Abetting a criminal!
I can remember the day my mom started to tell me that story like it was yesterday. When she got to the part where the police officer asked her if Glenna had ever lived in Wisconsin, I knew exactly what was coming next. I had never forgotten that story and had told it often. My husband and I joke about it still – I tell him “dont make me mad, I have a kitchen knife and I know how to use it!” and we both laugh. My kids are in on it too.
I loved my Aunt Glenna and all her crazy ways. She added color to our family… most often in the vein of ruby red lipstick on your cheek.