Remembrances of Joanne, daughter of Ben Lewis

Benjamin Wolf Lewis (1897-1979)

My childhood was so enriched by knowing my aunts and uncles and spending time with them. Every Saturday I would chart a course on my rusty old bike and end up visiting. They all made me feel welcome.

Uncle Dave and Aunt Mamie were a warm and interesting couple. Their daughters were grown and away.  Aunt Mamie had beautiful white hair  and always dressed in the latest style. She was a quiet woman and I think a bit overwhelmed by my childish exuberance. Their son in law, Paul Siever,  married to their daughter, Babs, was a doctor with a great sense of humor. My parents were always worried about my development and often consulted him to "look at me"to determine  that I was not sick. He and I understood one another and once he tried to tell me the facts of life. That was a real bust because there was no way I was discussing that subject with a relative.
Aunt Gisella played a wonderful classical piano and Uncle Abe smoked a pipe and read heady literature. He had a great smile and when they kissed me goodbye after cookies and milk, they both had whiskers that tickled. Uncle Abe was a reserved and quiet man, one of the older uncles. He let me sit on his lap and we read magazines together. He always gave me messages for my Dad and I think some of them were quite funny.
Uncle Mark and Aunt Ida never had children. He was a tease who saved his cigar band rings in a box and every time we were together he asked me to marry him. I said "yes" and was given a ring of my choice. He smelled clean and cigar-like and would always pick me up and throw me in the air. Aunt Ida was a pretty, slender woman who smiled all the time. She was a girlhood friend of my mother and they hung out together even later on
Uncle Jacob was the most handsome uncle I had. He always looked suntanned.  He always told me how beautiful I was becoming. I practically swooned. Tall and well dressed, sometimes in his military clothes, I had a crush on him.  Everyone did. Aunt  Sylvia was as tiny as a mouse and talked in a little squeaky voice. They lived in an apartment with few pieces of furniture as I remember. I wondered how they all found a space there to call their own. I always loved my cousin, Ted. He was known as the smart one in the family. When I went to High School, one of my teachers, who heard I was his cousin, made an assumption that I would also be good in math.
This was not a good decision on his part, math was my nemesis. I remember Ted as being a very good dancer and a cheerful and polite young man. I always wish I could have seen more of him.
Howard was like a big teddy bear. He was sweet and gentle and tried to make jokes. Charles was bookish and good natured and never seemed to be in a bad mood. Richard and I did not really interact so I did not know him then.
I loved being part of this family. They were the mainstay of my childhood. They made me feel welcome in their homes and in their hearts. They gave me good counsel and great cookies. Perhaps I should have gotten more of their knowledge and less cookies. The Lewis family was filled with winners. They all had something to offer and were uniformly productive, decent people.