Saturday, October 3, 2015

Shopping Saturday: "Do Day"

My aunt, Elizabeth Reed, worked full time as the Director of Health Information for the state of Florida when I was a youngster.  It was "Sissy," as we all called her, who taught me how to drive.

That is how I became part of her Saturday, which, since she had to do all her errands on that day, became known as "Do Day."   I got my learner's permit at 14, with my mother's consent, and was then allowed to drive provided that a licensed driver was in the seat next to me.  As soon as I got enough experience under my aunt's instruction to be qualified to be driving on the streets, I became her driver on "Do Day."

She would start her errands with her bank, the American National Bank in the San Marco shopping center on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida, where we lived.  Then she would go to the Silk Shop, a fabric store run by the family of an elementary school classmate of mine.  She had a seamstress who made all her dresses, and who made skirts and dresses for me, too.

Other errands might include any number of stores and public offices.  We would at times visit her seamstress for measurements and fittings.  We would talk and tell silly stories.  We would sing.  It was during our "Do Day" rounds that she told me stories of her time at the Escambia County Health Department in the 1930s, and other adventures she had as Director of Health Information in the late 1940s and 1950s.  She told stories also of how she lived in Brazil, working with nurses there, during World War II.

One of these tales was of her driving down to Lake Helen, Florida, (originally known as Lake Helen Blazes) to the health department there.  It was a small town that she was looking for, and, uncertain of her bearings, she stopped at a gas station to ask directions.  A serious-looking young man came out to her car, and she said, "Excuse me, but I seem to be lost."

The young man looked at her gravely and said in a sepulchral voice, "Aren't we all."

She decided to go elsewhere to ask for directions.

"Do Day" was fun for me.  I got to drive, for one thing, which I actually still enjoy doing.  I'm usually up for a road trip, even at my age.

I learned my way around the city, too.  I also learned how to drive on the many bridges over the St. Johns River.  I learned how to drive in city traffic and on the expressway.  And I got to spend time with my fun aunt!

Sometimes, I'll tell other stories of my Aunt Elizabeth.  She was a remarkable woman.

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