Happy Aunt and Uncle Day!
The narrator/author tells the story of her great-aunt Arizona who was born in a log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. All her life Arizona read books and dreamed of traveling far away for great adventures. But Arizona never traveled far away, she stayed in the mountains taking care of her papa after her mother died. Later she went away to school and she read and dreamed some more. Eventually Arizona became a teacher and moved back to her hometown. She taught children in the same one-room schoolhouse she had attended as a student. As a teacher ‘she taught students about words and numbers and the faraway places they would visit someday’. She got married and raised a family. She taught school for fifty-seven years. She hugged her students and taught them about the faraway places she never had a chance to go to, but she always said they would be able to go there someday.
Johnson and BeeBee have been abandoned by their mother several times, sometimes for a day, sometimes more, but it seems like this time it might be forever. Their social worker, Miss Roy, takes them to their Aunt Gracie’s house. Aunt Gracie welcomes them with open arms. She works hard to give them a normal life with tire swings, popcorn, and baking cookies. She also cries with them when they miss their mother. One day Miss Roy returns to take them to see their mother. Mama was sitting in a room in a tall, tall building. She looked different, smaller and sad. They talk about how she loves them but she can’t take care of them right now. Then she promises them that when they do come home, it will be for always. Until then, Aunt Gracie is going to take good care of them.
Sarah Jean’s Uncle Jed opened his first barbershop at the age of 79 years. Uncle Jed had been saving for this day all his life. First he had to overcome a hospital bill for Sarah Jean’s operation, then the Great Depression. He held onto his dream even when customers couldn’t afford to pay him, and when he did open his barbershop he had fancy equipment and a tall red and white barber pole.
Uncle Elephant comes to stay when Little Elephant is home sick with a runny trunk and a sore throat and Mother and Father Elephant go out for a sail. During a storm, Mother and Father get lost and don’t return home. Little Elephant takes a train with Uncle Elephant to his home. Uncle Elephant keeps Little Elephant busy with everyday things- gardening, storytelling, playing dress-up, and singing songs. One day a telegram arrives announcing that Mother and Father Elephant have been rescued at sea. Uncle Elephant and Little Elephant return home by train with Uncle Elephant counting the days they had spent together.