Aunt Tancy

Let me begin this blog post with a small amount of RV related material.  The remainder is dedicated to my family but might be interesting to you as well.

I purchased the 2017 JR Consumer RV review eBooks on Thanksgiving Day because they were priced half off. I’d hoped their section on RV construction would be good because it’s hard to find one consolidated source of information covering construction. For the most part the construction section was okay. They also had some information about the 2017 trailer models. It might have been better to wait until the end of the year, about October, to purchase their guide for more reviews of 2017 models. If someone was not willing to do about a year of research these books would be of greater value.  I do think they are a good purchase at the discounted price even for those that have already done much research.  It’s a good way to compare your findings against their ratings and confirm other conclusions.  Now on to some family stuff….



Beyond a doubt most of my cousins would agree a favorite great-aunt would have to be Mary Frances Orr-Schnake born in 1906 and died in 1986. We call her Aunt Tancy and my sister Mary is named after her. She and her husband retired in Mount Vernon Missouri, having moved off a farm located in Lawrence County. Aunt Tancy was a school teacher while her husband Ed was a farmer.  Unfortunately, they were not able to have children of their own. Perhaps this contributed to their love of other children, those being their nieces and nephews. And I suspect also the school children Aunt Tancy taught.

Having been raised in the city, for me a trip to the farm became an extraordinary experience full of gardening, wondering the fields and horse riding. I do not recall a single incident where Aunt Tancy raised her voice or become frustrated by anything I did. A vivid experience was chasing baby ducks around the corner of the house. They followed their mommas, lining up behind her and one another. I would wait and grab the last one as they turned the corner of the house and run. I’d play with it for a time and then let it go. To avoid attack by the momma bird you had to jump over a small fenced patio area. Of course, a few angry parents would jump or fly over at which time I’d drop the one I was playing with.  Aunt Tancy had a large bruise on her leg, having been attacked while hanging the laundry.  Her advice to me in the event of attack was simply to – run faster for the house.  Believe I was less than eight years old at the time. She and Uncle Ed had lots of chores to do and we were welcome to follow them around and were never treated as being in the way. Uncle Ed once saddled a horse and pointed me towards a pasture, warning if the horse tries to come back to the barn, refusing to move in another direction, simply -don’t let him.

It would be doubtful if both were always as tolerant of children when they were younger and I always supposed both gained so much wisdom because of their age.  Some have said Aunt Tancy had high expectation of her school children and I would think discipline would be part of that.  I prefer just to see her in the most wonderful of light. I wish she was alive today so I could ask her questions about being more tolerant of life’s ups and downs.

In preparation for downsize to an RV I was working on throwing papers out and came across the only hard piece of advice I could find from Aunt Tancy.  I read a quotation that appeared in a 1970’s news article when she was interviewed at retirement.  I thought about the meaning of the quotation which is as follows:

“A lifetime can be spent without realizing much more than our limitations and mistakes, plus the distance that separated you from an ideal.”

At the time, I interpreted this quotation to mean one could spend an entire lifetime worrying about not having achieved all their goals. Overthinking our mistakes and limitation while forgetting to live life. This seemed like a piece of advice Aunt Tancy would have given if she was still around. I came to think this was something she understood and made her such a pleasant person to be around.  Of course, she would have had worries, she just didn’t seem to share them much in front of children.

So before I threw the note away, committing it to memory and this blog post, I did a day’s research trying to figure this all out.

Aunt Tancy had earned a master’s degree during a time not many women went to college and other teachers earned a two-year certificate from a state college. I found the original text from which this quotation came. It’s not Aunt Tancy’s . It’s credited to William Lyon Phelps born 1865, died 1943. He was a Professor of English Literature.

I discovered the most recent printing of the quotation may have been used in Leon Sprey’s 2003 book titled Teaching is an Art. I also found the quotation used in Teaching Health Magazine, April 1940 addition by J. Mace Andress, pages 376-377. The article was titled An Appetite for Life. And then earlier in the January/June 1921 edition of School Life. For context, here is the full text in which the quotation was used:


full-text-part-one    full-text-part-2


After reading the full text the meaning of the quotation opened to me, hopefully explained the way Aunt Tancy would have used it.  What a true professional she was!  The art of teaching surly must have been an important concept for her in the 1970’s, having recalled a quotation used as early as the 1920’s or 1940’s when she would have been studying to become a one-room school house teacher.

For those studying to learn how to fulltime in an RV, can’t you see a little bit of William Lyon Phelps in each of us? “No matter where fate or purpose led him, there he found genuine satisfaction.” I’m blessed to have a little bit of Aunt Tancy in my veins. Wish you could have met her.

5 thoughts on “Aunt Tancy

  1. What a wonderful story! I admit, the image of you chasing the duckling, distracted me for a few. I guess as a sibling, I never really considered you as a child too much, rather just my sibling. You playing… is adorable.

    Aunt Tancy & Uncle Ed certainly were the kindest and best (add Aunt Rosie into the mix too).

    Thank you for taking us back to such lovely days and loved ones. I’m looking forward to the RV show and to soon… reading your blogs of life in FULL TIME!

    Big Hugs, Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

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