My Latino husband can yodel. He taught himself in the backyard of his Brooklyn house in the 1950s, while playing cowboys by himself, pretending he was sitting around a campfire with Gene Autry and his pals. I had no idea he could yodel until we were married and visiting my Midwestern family, when R chimed in with family yodeler Aunt Clarice’s refrain during an impromptu songfest while washing dishes. Wow, did this Brooklyn boy connect with my folks, you betcha!

Thanks to Aunt Snooky (aka Mavis Mildred Irene Amerson Voigt) for pulling together the Amerson family story that includes yodeling and lots more. Here are excerpts that show why we cannot wait to be back in the same kitchen, singing and laughing and maybe even doing some dishes.

We sisters sang harmony together, sometimes joined by Clarice, who could yodel, or by Ruby, who taught us hymns in hopes that we might go to church some day. 

Aunt Snooky

Irene loved singing, especially church songs, and told how she and Ruby or Clarice would often sit in the hayloft and sing. She and other family members also sang while washing dishes and listening to country music on the radio.

Jeanie Olsen (my cousin)

I was 3 when our family moved to a big house to a small one. Family lore is that when I saw the house at age 3, I said “I’m not going to live in this damn house.” I must have learned that from my mother, who cleaned, scrubbed and painted to make it more livable. It had no closets, but as my sister Jean said, “Luckily, we had no clothes.”

Aunt Snooky

When I was a teenager in the 1950s, my mother often said to me, “Don’t go hitchhiking. It’s dangerous. You could get kidnapped!” Fast forward to the year 2008 to the Amerson/Casjens family reunion in South Dakota, when I met up with a friend of my mother’s. When I was introduced as Margie’s son, she said “Oh, Margie. We used to go hitchhiking together!”

Jack Karsmeyer (my cousin)

I was the Middle Sister of three. Elaine was pretty, Jeanie was smart, and I was good-natured and funny. That was my role in life.

Aunt Snooky

We are so lucky that Aunt Snooky she was born the middle daughter, because her good cheer and people-connecting have carried our family forward during this very tough year.

Here, to close, is a Norwegian yodeling cows song by full-time yodeler Kerry Christensen. I’ll bet you won’t forget it!

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