Aunt Rose of Scotland and Bible Tales

Grady Arnold

While my dad was still away at the war in Europe and I was still a preschooler, my mother and her mother lived in Detroit in a small upstairs apartment across from a big Carnegie library.

They both worked in the war plants in Detroit.  They walked to and from work because a street car cost a nickel back then.  They would switch their shifts around so that one of them was always home with me.

Then something happened at their work so that they would both be on the day shift.  They wondered what to do about looking after me.  Then Grandma said, "I'll write a letter to Aunt Rose and ask her to come over for those months."

Then one day Aunt Rose appeared.  Aunt Rose was shorter than my mother and grandmother.  Later I learned that Aunt Rose was my grandmother’s aunt.  That made her my great-great-aunt.

Aunt Rose stayed with me while Mother and Grandma went to work.  Aunt Rose, I learned later, was born in Scotland.  She had come to Pennsylvania with her parents and my great-great-grandparents.  She was Rose McCreary.  My great-grandmother was her sister.

I remember a story my grandmother told about Aunt Rose traveling across the international bridge to Canada before I was born.   She went with grandmother and grandmother's stepson Jess Carnes.  Jess had a car and as they drove along, he coached Aunt Rose about the border.  Jess told her, “The border guards will ask you where were you born?  You simply say America or Pennsylvania, and everything will be okay.”  Well, they crossed the bridge into Canada with no problems as usual and spent a pleasant day visiting the shops.

On the return trip, everyone answered the border guard as expected until he turned to Aunt Rose.  She was always so proud of being born in Scotland.  As the border guards questioned her about her place of birth, I guess her emotions captured her because she shouted out, “SCOTLAND."  It took Jess Carnes and my grandmother three more days to get her back across that bridge.

The time I spent with Aunt Rose during her visit has always been very special to me.  She was the first person to tell me about some of the characters out of the Old Testament.  She told the story about Moses riding down the ancient Nile River in a handmade basket. She was like a magician, or a sorceress, spinning the old yarns about Moses becoming a prince and standing before the burning bush. She spoke of Moses parting the sea and taking the children across to the Promised Land.

Many years later, when I saw the movie The Ten Commandments, the words of Aunt Rose came to life again for me with Yul Brynner as the Egyptian Pharoah and Charlton Heston as Moses.  They were both great actors, but the movie lacked Aunt Rose’s wizardry.


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