My closest maternal aunt and uncle were my mother’s only sister, Selma (Sal) Riedel and her husband, Arthur (Art) Bostwick. Sal and Art were married on April 5, 1918, not long before Art shipped off to France to serve during the last part of World War I.
After Art returned home, they settled in Harbor Beach, Michigan, near where they both had grown up. They had three children: Bill, Shirley, and Bob. My mother taught the two oldest when she was at Harbor Beach High School. Later they moved to Port Huron, which was about 50 miles to the south.
During my childhood in Michigan the Bostwicks and van Raaphorsts lived only a few miles from each other, and I enjoyed the frequent visits. Both Sal and Art had a terrific sense of humor. During a family meal Uncle Art’s jokes were quite a feature, almost as popular as Aunt Sal’s delicious food.
My mom and her sister were very close, especially as adults, in spite of a ten-year gap between their ages. They shared a passion for gardening, and I remember visiting their house often and tagging along on the inevitable garden tour. Inside the house were dozens of first African violets and later orchids, after the violets had ceased to be a challenge. Outside Sal had a huge fruit and vegetable garden that took up the entire vacant lot next to their house.
Uncle Art had grown up on a farm, but I don’t remember that he participated in the gardening effort as an adult. His career involved machines of many sorts. After his retirement he tinkered in his basement and came up with wonderfully creative inventions. Below is a picture of a miniature steam engine he made. He was an avid reader of Popular Mechanics, and the house was filled with back issues, which I also enjoyed almost as much as my beloved comic books.
The Bostwicks were a very devoted couple, and they lived to celebrate their 60th anniversary. I always felt loved and welcome in their home, and I’m glad I got to know them so well. Happy 101st anniversary, Aunt Sal and Uncle Art!