Aunt Hilda and Uncle Halsey Stories
By Robert M. Leverette June of 1983

Aunt Hilda was a registered nurse and worked at the Tampa Hospital where she met Uncle Halsey in the early 1940s. Uncle Halsey (he was in the Army) was admitted to the hospital with cancer of the lips and was placed in Aunt Hilda's ward where she attended him. After Uncle Halsey's surgery, his mouth was only large enough to take real small bites of food and just large enough for his Cuban cigars. A couple of years after they were married, Aunt Hilda gave birth to a girl, I can't remember what they named her, but either the girl was a still birth or died shortly after birth. Uncle Halsey finally died when the cancer returned and metastasized to his brain. He died in 1965. Aunt Hilda was head nurse for her ward when she retired from the Tampa Hospital. Back yonder in the early years of pre-history when Janice and I were 6 to 10 years old, Momma and Daddy would take us to grandma's house to spend a week in the summer; this was adsolutely a fantastic time which we looked forward too about as much as Christmas, but even greater were the times when Aunt Hilda and Uncle Halsey would come and get us for an additional week in Tampa.

On one of these trips to Tampa, we past by some cows in a field and I made the comment, "Look there is a momma cow, a baby cow and a papa cow." Aunt Hilda got the biggest kick out of this and every time we saw her, she would relate the story to anyone who would listen.

However, the trip I remember the most vivid was: As a young lad of those years I love to eat snap beans, black-eyed peas and cabbage (I still do) but when it came to lima beans and butter beans I was not overly fond of those but I would eat a small helping. Well, Aunt Hilda had fixed some lima beans one night and placed a huge helping on my plate. After I had eaten all that I wanted I said I was through. Aunt Hilda said, "no you are not, finish eating the lima beans." Well I was determined not to eat any more and she was determined that I would. Finally she got mad and raked off all the other food that I still had on my plate and filled the plate to over flowing with just lima beans, and by fussing and spanking, she made me eat the whole plate.
After that she let me go and I immediately ran outside in a rain storm that had just started, threw-up and climbed a small orange tree. Uncle Halsey got worried because of the intense lightning and came to look for me and almost had a heart attack when he found me up the tree. From that time until now, I have never eaten another lima bean or butter bean. Just the thought of eating them makes me sick.

Uncle Halsey loved his Cuban cigars and Cuban coffee. Cuban coffee is a thick brew loaded with salt, to me it tasted horrible. Every Saturday morning that came around, his routine: he would head to Ebro City, had his hat cleaned and pressed. While the hat was getting the treatment, he would go next door to a small cafe and indulge in several cups of Cuban coffee. He would then pick up his hat and head for the tobacco shop to stock up on a week's worth of Cuban cigars. The several times he took me with him was a real treat - except for the coffee.

It was Aunt Hilda while on a visit to see dad, that she noticed dad was very sick and throwing up. Upon questioning dad and Avanelle she found that Avanelle was making dad take a certain vitamin which nullified dad's heart medicine and from what I understand (in Aunt Hilda's words), Aunt Hilda "hit the ceiling" to the point dad ask her to leave in an effort to prevent World War Three.

When she got home, she called me and told me the above and that Avanelle was trying to deliberately kill dad. She knew this for a fact since Avanelle had worked in a hospital as head of House Keeping and knew that heart patients should not take certain vitamins. According to Aunt Hilda, in Florida House Keeping personnel are instructed to check the medications in a heart patient's room just in case visitors brought in non-prescription medicines and which ones were harmful, so Avanelle knew not to give dad vitamins. Would I please do something about it? This was late at night since Aunt Hilda worried for a day or two about whether to call me or not. Before I could call dad the next morning, he had a heart attack and was in the hospital. I called Aunt Hilda about dad's attack and ask her to come up to watch over him but she refused for dad would be worried about her and Avanelle which would make his condition worse. Though at the time I thought Aunt Hilda may have been a little excited and had exaggerated. But after all that had happened since then, I now believe she was correct about her murder suspicions but do not have any proof; also consider the following facts: A. Avanelle had dad to odtain a larger insurance policy right after they married! B. Dad's new will which he let me read a week or so before he died was not the same will that Avanelle had probated and read after dad's death.

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