Eve Wolk Arnovich

Today, August 15,2013, Eve Wolk Arnovich passed away in Florida, aged 95.

In a generation noted for its practicality, Eve stood out for hers. Her own father died young, and her mother did hard physical work into a robust old age. For many years after marrying, Eve herself worked, at a store called Oreck’s, while keeping tabs on three children, two houses, and my uncle Hy’s diet. He’d had a nearly fatal heart attack, and then his brother had a fatal one, so she kept a very close watch. .

Her vigilance gave my uncle an extra couple of decades.

During the short northern Wisconsin summers Eve did not work at the store, but she had her hands full with her other responsibilities plus handling fair weather visitors from the East Coast. She took my brother and me fishing, cleaned and scaled much of what we caught, squeezed fresh orange juice, cooked meals — often for 12 or 15 people — at the lake house, and never to my knowledge had any domestic help.

If she did try domestic help, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming close to her standards.

For many years my uncle dated a girl named Evelyn, whom everyone assumed would become his wife. Then one day he met Eve, and the other girl was quickly forgotten. Eyebrows were raised at this pretty new girlfriend from a hardscrabble family, at a time when social standing preoccupied many Americans.

Some time after being widowed in 1975 Eve moved to Florida and eventually remarried, but she would return to Wisconsin in the summers. Later on she developed Alzheimer’s disease, and I never saw her again. Yet I think about her often. Yesterday, on what turned out be her last day, I’d heard someone complaining and thought about what Auntie Eve would say. “Quit your bellyaching!” was what came to mind.

Eve didn’t have higher education, nor did she have the ambition — as my mother did — to strike out from her small home town. Within the world she knew, Eve was so competent. She was solid. She was content where she was, like her son is, while her daughters moved away and became educated and modern women.

There aren’t too many American women left like Auntie Eve. If you were born into the Baby Boom and saw your life open to many wide-ranging options, you were unlikely to choose her path. Yet she was really something.

Charles Orlowek
11:10PM Central Daylight Time
August 15, 2013