The beautiful lady above is a great aunt on my father’s side. I knew nothing about her until I found all my American cousins through Ancestry when I returned to live in the USA. Some of our family knowledge is disappearing with each generation dying but I found an older relative through my third cousins who was able to tell me precise details. My paternal great grandmother, for example, for a formidable lady with black eyes and hair (Native American genetics) and a stern demeanor. She married in North Texas and finally settled in Tucumcari in New Mexico. One very cold November I went to visit her and my great-grandfather’s grave. It was the strangest feeling trying to connect with a gravestone and the place where they lived.
Most of my relatives now live in California and I went on a wonderful trip to see some brand new relatives. It was hot and I was wearing shorts. My cousin, Lily, who was in her 70s by then gasped when she saw me and said I had the legs of the anonymous beautiful lady above. At that stage I hadn’t seen a photograph but I hoped it was a compliment and it was. We started chatting about her and it became obvious that one side of the family knew a secret about her that the other side didn’t. “Wasn’t she a high class hooker”?, said one to the shocked silence of everyone else. Then it all started coming together – why did she have a suite of rooms in a hotel when she could have lived in her parents home?
My response, to break the tension, was, “Well if it goes belly-up in oil, perhaps I will have a new career with these legs!” Hilarity ensued, albeit with one of those looks from my husband… Before I wrote this post I checked about defamation of the dead because it is all second hand news to me. I decided not to name her as I noticed there were some other relatives on our family website who might not know about these allegations. My cousin remembered that she retired to Beverley Hills, smoked incessantly and wore adorable little mohair sweaters. My great aunt gave her one of her sweaters but it had to be washed endlessly and put out on the line to get the smell of smoke out of it.
I have thought about her often and wondered why anyone would choose to become a hooker, high class or otherwise. She is certainly a looker and ended up being wealthy. What I would give to talk to her!