Aunt Ora


Our old maid Aunt Ora Waller would come to stay a few days with us each summer. I remember she ate bare toast and drank hot water for breakfast. She had a delicate stomach. Her visits carried on a tradition began when my mother, as a girl, would stay with Aunt Ora for a week each summer. The summer visit exchange continued until we were teenagers, mom and my sisters would stay with aunt Ora overnight while dad and I would go sit on the riverbank at Seneca, all night, hoping to catch a record fish. I sure thought I was freezing as the Virginian Railroad coal trains labored by in the night.


Aunt Ora died in 1962 at age 85 in a public nursing home, near Richmond I think. She was brought back home for burial and it was then that the worldly property of the old maid was disposed of. My mother was there and got a lady’s dresser set. The set contains a glass dish and the dish cover has a hole in the top. Ladies would stuff the hair gleaned from their comb and brush into the dish through the hole in the top, thus saving the hair for use latter on.


And my mother found postcards sent to aunt Ora by an unknown correspondent. The cards are addressed to Ora Waller at Stovall, Virginia and are postmarked from 1909 to 1913. Each one begins with the phrase “Well Miss Ora, How are you progressing…?” And the picture side of each card shows a young man and woman that appear to be romantically inclined.


It is hard to imagine that Aunt Ora had an admirer in 1913 because she was 36 years old at the time. The story I heard was that when she was a girl there was a lover that wanted to marry her. He had gone west promising to return for her. She waited in vain and in waiting became an old maid. So who was it in 1913 that wanted to send such postcards to an old maid?



Aunt Ora’s Dresser Set: open oblong bowl for buttons and hairpins (?), shallow ten inch tray to hold brush and comb (?), and round hair bowl with pierced cover for hair.