Linnie Aitken Wachter

My Adventurous Aunt I Didn't Know Well Enough

October, 2016

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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.

ABuleau3yr Myrtle Shrriff Grma Aitken1yr
Aunt Buleau Sherriff (3 yrs.) and
Myrtle Sheriff (Grandma Aitken) (1 yr.)
John Myrtle Lynn
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.

Lynn Zella Mae Goddell Lynn Zella Mae Goddell Rib Mtn Rib Mtn Nr Wausau Lynn Zella Mae Goddell
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 Gma ALynn Ed Myrtle John Lynn
Dad, Grandma Aitken, Aunt Lynn Grandpa Aitken (Edward),
Grandma (Myrtle)
Dad (John), Linnie
Lynn, ~1945
Phil Campfire
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 Xxx
Xxx Lynn and College friends?

Ms Freitag Lynn Madison Xxx Lynn Madison
Ms. Freitag and Lynn Xxx, Lynn
Madison, College Graduation

Xxx Lynn Xxx
Lynn, Xxx Xxx

Xxx Xxx Lynn2nd Fm Lft Maybe
Xxx Xxx Lynn 2nd from left maybe?

Xxx Lynn Back2nd Fm Lft Maybe Xxx Lynn Middke4th Fm Lft Maybe
Xxx Lynn Back 2nd from left maybe? Xxx Lynn Middle 4th from left maybe?

Xxx ALynn_0091_19Xxxxxx
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 Train
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.

Egypt Assiut Egypt Assiut Egypt Assiut
Assiut, Egypt

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.

Egypt Dolib Hill Mary Uhiling 4Patients Churchgoers
"Dolib Hill" -- Mary Uhiling and Patients and Churchgoers
Egypt Fishing On Sabah
Fishing On "Sabah" (?)

Egypt Porter Egypt Dining Boys Off Steamer
Porter Dining Boys Off Steamer

Egypt Aswan Dam Egypt Nile Aswan
Aswan Dam Nile near Aswan
Maybe Aswan Dam in the background?
Egypt Aswan To Elphentine I Egypt Friends On Wab
Aswan To Elphentine Is Friends On Wab

Egypt Along Nile Egypt Along Nile
Along the Nile

Egypt Nasir Kitchen Native Village Egypt Grinding Grain Nr Nasir
Native Village Kitchen, near Nasir Grinding Grain, near Nasir

Egypt Dome Palms Nile SSudan Egypt Dome Palm Nasir
Dome Palms along the Nile in South Sudan Dome Palm, Nasir

Egypt Sudanese Girls Egypt Is Of Phil Shelal
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.

Egypt Thorn Tree Nile Makes Carkada
Thorn Tree along the Nile,
used to make Karkada
Egypt RRSta Sudan Btwn Halfa Khartoum Egypt Rail Workers Huts
Railroad Station between Halfa and Khartoum Rail Workers' Huts
Egypt Shopping Train Stop
Shopping at a Train Stop
Egypt Sudan Village Egypt Natives On Sudan
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...

Egypt Governors Palace Khartoum
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.

Sam George UBill Dad
Aunt Lynn with Uncle Bill,
Sam and George
California, 1963
Dad and Lynn

George Sam Peggy Gary David David Gary Peggy Sam George
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 AuntLynnUncleJackWachter_2015
Canyon Aunt Lynn and Uncle Jack Wachter, 2015