It was winter in my home, St. Petersburg, Florida. Winter there meant temperatures went slightly down and Aunt Annie was coming to town.
Aunt Annie was actually my father’s cousin, but everyone called her Aunt Annie.
She would get a small room for several months at the Princess Martha Hotel in downtown St. Pete. The hotel had a dining room with small portions aimed at an aging clientele.
Often when we visited her in her room, there would be biscuits and saltines she took from the dining room to eat later.
Everyone in Dad’s family was afraid of Aunt Annie, but they endured it because she had no children and she was very rich.
At a young age, Annie married Thomas K. Cloud, a much older man, who owned a dry cleaning business in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Not content to just sit back, Annie set herself to learning every aspect of the dry cleaning business. She soon took over the day-to-day operation of the business.
Annie was tough and a straight talker. You never had to wonder what was on her mind.
One day a wealthy woman came to visit the shop and asked if they could help her dry clean the drapes throughout her mansion. Annie was all over it. She brought a crew out to take down the drapes, dry clean them back at the shop and return them quickly. The customer was delighted at the result and told her friends. Soon Annie gained a reputation throughout what is referred to as “the
carriage trade” for good work done quickly.
When I met Aunt Annie I was in high school and she always encouraged me to go to college and graduate school. Often we would walk with her down to the Merrill Lynch office where she would sit and watch the stock report go by on the projected ticker tape report.
One of Aunt Annie’s eccentricities was the belief that it was good to have cold cash around the house, just in case you needed it. But she wanted to hide it so burglars wouldn’t find it. She had a rather extensive shoe collection and she started stuffing wads of $100 bills in the toes of her shoes. After Aunt Annie died, the first question everyone in the family asked was “who got the shoes?”
One day during a visit Aunt Annie told me she had a motto that she followed all through her life:
“Know where you want to go. Make sure it is a good place to be. Work as hard as you can to get there. Don’t let anything stand in your way.”
Thanks, Aunt Annie, for some great advice.