Gladys Leona Borst Holden was born July 19, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois.
When I was a little guy (2 or 3 years old), I couldn’t pronounce “Gladys,” which was my aunt’s name. I heard Mom (Gladys’s sister) calling her “Honey,” so I started calling her Auntie Honey. The nickname stuck, and almost everyone in the family called her Auntie Honey. I remember even hearing her own three boys calling her that occasionally.
My grandmother took Auntie Honey and Mom with her to the Netherlands in 1932, and they were still there when the Nazis invaded in 1940. Auntie Honey told us that they lived in constant fear until the Nazis arrested her and my grandmother in September 1942. They missed Mom, which is a story you can read about in my novel, Journey to Marseilles.
Auntie Honey said, “They came and picked up my mother and me. They said you don’t have to take a toothbrush or anything. You will be right back in ten minutes . . . just to interview you.” They ended up in Amersfoort Concentration Camp “with barbed wire and guns in each corner—machine guns—with a soldier walking back and forth dogs.” They were moved to another camp in Liebenau, Germany until the two women were finally repatriated in March 1944.
Though Auntie Honey was quite ill through many of those months of captivity, the experience toughened her up considerably, as illustrated by this story she told about an adventure at Heise Station, the Imperial Valley café/gas stop that she and Uncle Ernie ran later:
“ . . . we never had any trouble except for that cook that I nearly shot. I didn’t shoot him, thank Heavens, but he made me very angry . . . we had given him a job and he started giving the food away and pilfering. When Ernie called him down, he got sassy and . . . got that big knife. I still have the knife. So I got the gun and poked it in his back and said, ‘You better drop that knife or I am going to pull the trigger. So he dropped the knife and I walked him out.’”
Our two families lived together in one house from 1952 through 1956, and I thought she was a wonderful aunt and always the life of the party.
We lost Auntie Honey in March 2014, and I will always remember her with love.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUNTIE HONEY!