Lon and Aida Austin
In 1940 Aida, 79, and Lon, 83 (who had never married) continued to live in Eldred and refer to it as “the Village.”
They each lived in their own place next door to each other, on the original Austin property possibly bought around 1840. Lon lived in the house where he, Aida, and their siblings had grown up. Why?
Aida: Save only the clippings that you want from newspapers.
Lon: Save the whole paper if you are interested (as his house proved).
Aida: You should boil the water first when you make oatmeal.
Lon: You should mix the oatmeal in cold water, and then cook it.
Obviously with such diverse thinking, the elderly Austin siblings couldn’t live in the same house. They were very concerned and caring for one another; and went back and forth a dozen times a day to check on one another.
Aida was a somewhat peppery, independent lady. Both she and Lon had strong opinions. But they did try to change things they thought were wrong.
Sometime around 1940 Aida researched the history of both her family and the Town of Highland (originally Lumberland). She hand copied excerpts of many land deeds, the oldest of which was from 1815.
Aida’s great-niece Melva Austin sometimes helped by carrying Aida’s groceries home. Melva would be tired out when she arrived at Aida’s, but Aida was not.
Aida made Melva hot chocolate, after first chopping some kindling wood to start the fire in the stove. As they drank hot chocolate, Aida talked to Melva about the history she was finding and saving. Sometimes Aida played recordings of Caruso for Melva, or played songs on the organ.
I more and more realize that while we were socializing and she was telling me “stories,” I was being taught.—Melva.
Aida entrusted Melva with her extensive assortment of photos, letters, and research, all of which played a major part in the Halfway Brook Series and was the basis for the story of the arrival of the James Eldred Family in, The Mill on Halfway Brook.
Lon and Aida walked the hilly, rough terrain from their place on Proctor Road to the Village and the A&P almost daily; sometimes twice a day—but at different times.The neighbors and townsfolk were very caring to Aida and Lon.
Often a neighbor on the way to or from town would stop and give Aida or Lon a ride. Though Lon, at least, preferred to walk.
Aida’s Diary of the early 1940s started around August of 1940.