Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Historical Woman

Dorothy Dean Mertz
1924 - 2010

My Aunt "Dot"

This is young, school-aged Dorothy Dean, just the way I remember her when I stayed at Grandma's upstairs three-room apartment on Clifton Avenue in Over-the-Rhine. 

I was fussed over and spoiled by this pretty young girl and her sister Clara.  I was taken to live plays in downtown Cincinnati at the lush Albee and Palace theaters. 

I had my picture taken at every chance, sporting lipstick and red nail polish.

I was taught how to sing and dance for visitors and family.

I was loved.

This photo reinforces what my father often said, "How do you keep your knees banged up constantly?  Why can't you learn to walk without tripping and falling."  Dad said my knee scabs were embarassing in public.  I think he was right. 

Before Aunt Dot married Bill Mertz, they took me along with them a lot.  It's hard to imagine that my Uncle Bill actually went along with it, after I kicked him in the shins, as he still to this day recalls.

Here he is posing with me for the camera.  This is at Burnet Woods in Clifton. 

Wedding Day for Mr. Bill Mertz and now Mrs. Dorothy Dean Mertz. 

The baby must be me.  I was the only baby born when they got married.  My hair just looks too light, but I notice the big feet. 

At any rate, they made a wonderful, beautiful couple, and there was no other home I enjoyed staying in more than theirs.

After their first child, MaryLou, was born, I was a babysitter, beginning at eight years of age.  I wanted to be at their apartment just down the street from Grandma's all of the time.  When MaryLou was old enough to play, she fell in love with paperdolls, and she would cry, "Paperdolls, Bettyann, Paperdolls!" when she saw me.  That girl just couldn't get enough of paperdolls. 

We'd sit on the flowered linoleum floor while Aunt Dot worked in the kitchen preparing dinner, playing with the paperdolls. 

As Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill's family grew, so did my chances of helping out at their house.  They moved to Price Hill after Clifton Avenue, where they bought their own home.  Aunt Clara lived across the street there, on West Eighth Street, so it was easy for me to go back and forth between the two.

Aunt Clara Dean Berding with her firstborn, Tommy

Aunt Clara influenced me in different ways than Aunt Dot.  Clara, the younger of the two, was the fun-loving type who wanted me to have a boyfriend as soon as I could and taught me how to sew my own clothes, how to fix my hair and apply makeup. 

 Aunt Dot was practical, though also fun, and taught me how to iron Uncle Bill's white dress shirts for work and how to cook.  She passed on secrets about how to feed a big family while still not spending a lot of money.

I remember once, when potatoes rose in price at the grocery stores and women were saying they weren't going to buy them, Aunt Dot told me, "I don't care if they cost five dollars a pound, I can't cook without them for my family."  She knew how to make a dollar stretch.

Aunt Dot and Uncle Bill had seven children and made sure every one of them attended Catholic school.  At Aunt Dot's funeral, I remember one of her grandchildren telling how his grandparents raised five girls in one bedroom!  The couple had two sons and five daughters. 

Aftere I married in 1963, I liked to visit Aunt Dot, but after I moved to Tennessee, those chances didn't come as often, and I lost track of all of my cousins.  I regret not watching all of them grow up and have children of heir own, but I'm making up for it now and keeping in touch and seeing them as often as possible, especially Uncle Bill, one of the sweetest men in the whole wide world.

September 2010 at Turfway!  Showing off my two dollars that I won on Uncle Bill's suggestion for "place and show."  He's still a wonderfully smart man.

I have a blessed life to be in such a large and awesome family, and I'm so proud of all of them. 

I owe a lot to my Aunt Dot.  Her presence in my life made a deep impression.


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