I was very lucky to be brought up in a family rich with Aunts and cousins old enough to be aunts. Probably the one who was the most prominent in our family’s lives was Aunt Tootsie.
Born Antoinette Gertrude Posluszny, Toots or Tootsie, was the first child born to Konrad Posluszny and Julianna Ingram on January 7, 1909 in Yonkers New York.
With a brother Conrad born in November of 1910, Lou born in 1913, Julia in 1917 and Elizabeth (my mother) in 1922, she left school after the 8th grade and got a job. Family says she was a maid at Choate School.
With the 13 year age difference between Tootsie and her youngest sister Betty, she became a second mother to her. They had a good relationship even with the age gap. In an old postcard from Atlantic City in May of 1943 Betty writes to Toots: “Having a swell time and wish you were here – And I mean it.” Another postcard from Betty to Toots says “Thanks for letting me have such a marvelous time. It was swell fun and I sure am happy.” They even took a train trip together in August of 1943 from Wallingford via New York and St. Louis to San Antonio Texas to visit their brother Connie who was in the Army.
When Grammy wasn’t able to buy something for Betty, she would tell Tootsie to get it for her. Aunt Judy said Tootsie and Grammy would window shop for dresses then go to the store and buy material, make a paper pattern and sew it up. She was always ready to teach any of us who showed an interest in her crafts.
Tootsie got a job at Wallace Silversmiths where she worked for many many years as an inspector in the Cutlery Department. I remember waiting at the curb on Friday evenings with my mom and sisters to pick her up to go grocery shopping. We’d go to Grand Union and then back to the house at 121 Clifton Street for dinner. Through her job at the silversmith we all have incredible collections of the silver bells they produced starting in the early 1970s and we all received silverware sets in our wedding presents.
Aunt Judy said Tootsie had one true love in her life. Unfortunately, he was not true to her and had a relationship with someone else who ended up getting pregnant. She met Lester Schmitt in the 1950s through their association with the Improved Order of Redmen and Degree of Pocahontas. He was from Torrington and at the time they were both taking care of their mothers. They continued this relationship for years until Lester’s mother passed away and then were married in November of 1960. Uncle Lester was a very nice man and I think they were very happy together. They lived with Grammy at the 121 Clifton Street house but unfortunately, Uncle Lester passed away in August of 1963.
After Grammy passed away in 1967, Aunt Tootsie remained in the house and continued working at Wallace Silversmith. In 1977, she reconnected with a widower Andy Fritz. She and Lester used to hang out with Andy and his wife years before. They were married in November of 1978. They traveled alot and Andy enjoyed crocheting as much as she did! But like her marriage to Lester, it was very short. Andy died in August of 1981.
Aunt Tootsie continued to be active and loved to see her family.
She was as much an aunt to her great nieces and nephews of which she had many as she was to their parents. She was very independent, could paint and wallpaper a professional under the table and would do absolutely anything for anyone.
But she started slowing down and knew it was time to sell the house on Clifton Street that had been the family home since 1925. In 1989, she moved to one of the first completed apartments in Judd Square. Visiting her at the apartment was when I first started working on our family history. She had an incredible collection of pictures and she would tell me who the people were so I could make note of their names on the back. She lived there until she became unable to take care of herself and it was no longer safe. She moved to the Westfield Care and Rehab Center in Meriden where her care was supervised by her niece Judy Behme and later by her other niece Loisanne Thomas. She suffered from dementia but when anyone went to visit her, she would tell stories and more stories.
She celebrated her 100th birthday at the Westfield Care Center but sadly passed away the following September age 101-1/2 years old. We gathered for her funeral and shared stories of her.
I remember Aunt Tootsie as always being there for us – having us sleep over when our parents went out; helping us to crochet or knit; sharing the books to read in the house – sharing anything that was in the house actually!; and always being happy to have us around. How lucky we were to have such a wonderful example of what it means to be an aunt!
Please share your memories of Aunt Tootsie in the comments!