My father, John H. Aitken, had one sister; Linnie Beulah, who I've always known as Aunt Lynn. We always lived quite a ways from wherever she was living, and we didn't see her much. Dad didn't talk about his family much, and as a kid growing up, and as an adult, I didn't ask him much. Like a lot of kids, I was more interested in me and what I was doing at the time. Now I wish he, and she, were still around; there's no-one left to ask questions of.
Dad and Aunt Lynn grew up on a farm near Antigo, Wisconsin. We don't have many photos from back then, but there are a few.
| Aunt Buleau Sherriff (3 yrs.) and
Myrtle Sheriff (Grandma Aitken) (1 yr.)
|Dad, Grandma Aitken, Aunt Lynn|
Judging from the pictures she kept, Aunt Lynn had one or two good friends in High School. I probably have names wrong, as I can't decipher her handwriting very well on the backs of the photos. Zella Mae Goddell was one.
|Aunt Lynn and Zella Mae Goddell||On Rib Mtn., near Wausau|
Dad was a year older than Aunt Lynn, and he signed up for the Army when he finished High School. I think these pictures must have been taken shortly after that, when he was home on leave maybe after basic training or after photography school. I think dad took these pictures.
|Dad, Grandma Aitken, Aunt Lynn|| Grandpa Aitken (Edward),
Dad (John), Linnie
| Phil Campfire
... who was/is Phil?
|Lynn, Guppy (dad's dog), and Dad's Pontiac|
After graduation, Aunt Lynn headed off to college at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She earned her master's degree, something pretty impressive for a woman at that time.
|Xxx||Lynn and College friends?|
|Ms. Freitag and Lynn||Xxx, Lynn|
|Madison, College Graduation|
|Xxx||Xxx Lynn 2nd from left maybe?|
|Xxx Lynn Back 2nd from left maybe?||Xxx Lynn Middle 4th from left maybe?|
|Xxx||Aunt Lynn 19Xxxxxx|
After graduating from college, Aunt Lynn took a trip to Egypt. I'm not sure whether she went alone or went with a friend, or just had introductions to people over there. In any case, it must have been quite an adventure for a country girl from Wisconsin at the age of 23! From a letter she sent to my niece, Melissa Payne, in 2009, I know she was there between 1945 and 1948, working in a mission school in Assiut.
I don't know for sure how she got to Egypt. By 1945, commercial air service was available between the US and Europe, but I don't know if it was affordable; maybe she took a boat. Where did she arrive? Again, I don't know, but I would guess she arrived in Cairo and somehow made her way to Asyut. The photos we have are in no obvious order, so I've arranged them (I think) geographically from north to south, the likely way she travelled.
|Egypt, Lynn boarding a Train to somewhere...|
From Assiut, Lynn went on to Aswan Dam. This is the "first" Aswan dam, now referred to as the "Low" dam; the dam most people think of when they hear "Aswan Dam" is the high dam, built between 1960 and 1970 and located 6 km further up the river. From Aswan Lynn continued south into Sudan. Apparently she travelled up the Nile on a steamer, then overland by train. She went at least as far as Khartoum.
One of Aunt Lynn's photos has written on the back, as nearly as I can interpret it, "Dolib Hill" and "Mary Uhiling" with four patients and churchgoers. I have no idea who Mary Uhiling is, or where Dolib Hill is, probably because I can't read Lynn's handwriting. Perhaps Dolib Hill is where the mission she volunteered at was located.
|"Dolib Hill" -- Mary Uhiling and Patients and Churchgoers|
|Fishing On "Sabah" (?)|
|Porter||Dining Boys Off Steamer|
|Aswan Dam||Nile near Aswan|
Maybe Aswan Dam in the background?
|Aswan To Elphentine Is||Friends On Wab|
|Along the Nile|
|Native Village Kitchen, near Nasir||Grinding Grain, near Nasir|
|Dome Palms along the Nile in South Sudan||Dome Palm, Nasir|
|Sudanese Girls||Is. of Philae near Shellal|
Lynn took a picture of a thorn tree along the Nile and has written on the back, "Makes Carkada". Apparently this is a form of Hibiscus, and is used to make Hibiscus Tea (Karkade), popular in Egypt and South Sudan.
| Thorn Tree along the Nile,
used to make Karkada
|Railroad Station between Halfa and Khartoum||Rail Workers' Huts|
|Shopping at a Train Stop|
|Sudan Village||Natives in Sudan|
Apparently Lynn was in the company of a friend or white porter when she got to Khartoum, as he appears in the photo she took of the Governor's Palace. I haven't a clue what the large ball between his legs is...
|Governor's Palace, Khartoum|
I don't know much about Aunt Lynn's life after she came back from her trip to Egypt. We saw her a few times when I was very young and we were still living in Kansas City. The next I really remember was when we visited her and her first husband, Bill Nielsen and our two cousins, Sam and George, at their home in northern California in 1963.
| Aunt Lynn with Uncle Bill,
Sam and George
|Dad and Lynn|
|George, Sam, Peggy, Gary, David||David, Gary, Peggy, Sam, George|
Much later in life, Aunt Lynn reconnected with an old friend, Jack Wachter. He had lost his first wife a year or two earlier. They picked up where they had left off and realized they still enjoyed each other's company a whole lot, and before we knew it they were married. They both loved to travel and traveled extensively. They spent summers in Wisconsin and winters in California, and we all were terrified when they drove back and forth across the country. Uncle Jack died in 2015 at 96. They had a wonderful time together; it was one of those cases where the whole was much more than the sum of two parts.
|Canyon||Aunt Lynn and Uncle Jack Wachter, 2015|