"Stella" Eckerson lived the longest of the three girls, which meant our lives actually overlapped for a time. I, of course, remember her as an old, old, woman. If you'd told me she was 150 years old, I probably would have believed you, but in reality she was in her eighties. Her only son and her granddaughter, my mother, inherited her long, bony wrists. All three of them looked very much alike in old age. I remember our family going in the summer to visit her at her house, two states away, where she was always kind and welcoming, although I believe she had a rather wry wit. She also came to California on a visit, very late in her life. We have a few photos of her during that time. She had on a dress, nylon stockings, and dress pumps; I don't think she owned any pants. I remember her always in a dress of some sort, and a cover-all type of apron.
Living alone, her one weakness seemed to be a collection of "Radio-TV Mirror" magazines. Looking at copies online brings a smile: they're filled with ads for products like Listerine and girdles, and have a lot of gossipy tidbits about the celebrities of the time. The one I saw featured Art Linkletter on the cover.
My great-grandmother lived a life that observed many changes, moving across the country from small-town Iowa to a different Territory, a country at war more than once, a long widowhood, the dawn of the space age, and being kept company by broadcast entertainment.
A very long time, indeed, since she was the solemn little girl in the photograph.
|Estella, Emma, & Mary Channell, l. to. r.|
Photo in possession of the author