“You have to do something, Kurt. You can’t keep letting the kids take care of themselves.”
The Sheriff had been around a few times in the last week to bring one or other of us home. Papa was exhausted. He had to work to keep us fed and housed but we were still too young to look after ourselves.
The Faust children ranged in age from 3 to 9. There were 5 of us. Mama had died last year from a rattlesnake bite.
I was a few weeks shy of my 8th birthday when Sherriff Parker drove up with Gerta and Paulie in the back seat. They were the youngest at 3 and 5.
Paulie said he and Gerta had gone looking for bugs and got lost.
“I know, I know. I’m just not sure who’s left in town to help out.” Papa had been looking for someone to watch after us since Mama passed. But there weren’t many people in town to begin with and the new roads were sending more and more of them away.
“Kurt, my niece just moved to town. Her family situation wasn’t great so Martha and I decided to take her in for a while. Maybe she can help out.”
“Sheriff, that would be a blessing,” Papa said before herding us kids back into the tiny house we all called home.
Two days later, Ms. Patty showed up at our door.
“Are you the nanny?” Papa asked
“I’m no Mary Poppins but I can help out with the kids.”
And Mary Poppins she wasn’t. Ms. Patty was the most unusual of caretakers. She didn’t cook or clean or have a lot of rules. Whenever we’d ask her why she did something, she’d always respond, “Well, I’m no Mary Poppins…” and then proceed to give us her insight into the world outside of our small town.
One afternoon, Becka got stung by a bee. She came in yelling and screaming. Ms. Patty proceeded to dump the mop bucket of water over her head. After shaking it off, Becka looked at her and said, “Why DID YOU DO THAT?”
“I’m no Mary Poppins but I don’t think yellin takes the hurt outa a bee sting. We can’t fix ya till ya stop yer hollerin.”
Another time Scotty came in all dirty except for the clear paths of tears down his face. When Ms. Patty learned that Scotty was being bullied by the kids a little older than him, she sat him down and said, “I’m no Mary Poppins but I always find that agreeing with the bully takes all their power away. Next time they start to tease you, tell them they are right, even if you know they aren’t. And ask them what else they think.”
Somehow Ms. Patty’s suggestion worked and Scotty’s bullies left him alone after that.
She was far from the traditional nanny but we were always well cared for and safe.
Ms. Patty taught us many things over the years. Mostly, she taught us how to think for ourselves and be independent.
I’m not so sure she wasn’t Mary Poppins after all.
This old home is located in #CuervoNM. Cuervo is one of the last great ghost towns in the country. It was never large, topping out at just over 3 digits population, and it could not survive the new bustle that the I-40 freeway brought right through the middle of town. Because this place is so accessible, there are many stories and images online. I encourage you to check out some of the history for yourself.