Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - A Tribute to Aunt Annette

Aunt Annette has always been "our special aunt" to each of her nieces and nephews, everyone's "favorite aunt." In January 2004, she took a fall and was in the hospital. Those nieces and nephews got to talking about the fun times they had with her and the kind of special person she is.

Note: On the morning of February 19, 2004 we got this message on Cyberputten, our family listserv.

"This is Dick, at grandpa's home. Aunt Annette died peacefully and painlessly early this morning.  Jean is making funeral arrangements now."

Annette sent pears at Christmas
by JR VanderPutten, February 24, 2004
I Remember dumping Annette in Long Island Sound
by JR VanderPutten, February 24, 2004
I Remember when Aunt Annette took ME Dining
by Barbara Vander Putten, Jan 2004
I Remember when Aunt Annette took US Dining
by Laurie Loken, Jan 2004
I Remember Dick and Aunt Annette's Roof
by Elizabeth VanderPutten, Jan 2004
I Remember Aunt Net's Hoover
by Gary Vander Putten
I Remember Aunt Annette at Christmas
by Vicki Vander Putten, Jan 2004
I Remember Aunt Annette and a Buck Rogers Ray Gun
by Thomas Vander Putten, Jan 2004
I Remember Aunt Annette and Marshmallows
by Dorothy VanderPutten Urbancik, Jan 2004
I Remember Aunt Annette's Roof and Marshmallows
By Jill Vander Putten Bonner
I Remember Aunt Annette and a Dress from Saks
by Jean VanderPutten Pollack, Jan 2004
I Remember Aunt Annette's Smiling Thoughtfulness
by Brian James Larkin, Jan 2004 


Annette sent pears at Christmas
By JR VanderPutten

For the record, what can I say --

She was there for 89 years as a part of my life. I will miss her. We did not meet much in recent years as I drove less. She sent me pears every Christmas.

Big brother Dick
February 24, 2004

I Remember dumping Annette in Long Island Sound
By JR VanderPutten

[NOTE: After dad retired, he bought a 27' sail boat and took up sailing. -Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten]

While I was still learning to sail my boat, I took Annette for a Sunday sail in Long Island Sound. As we approached -- slooowly -- our mooring she agreed to go forward to "pick up" the buoy with the 5' boat hook. I [inadvertently] made a sudden move and dumped her over board. It was exciting for awhile but we worked every thing out -- safely. With no damage to any thing except my pride, she still had the boat hook

Big brother Dick
February 24, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette took ME dining in San Francisco
By Barbara Vander Putten
When I was about 10 or 11 (1964-65), Aunt Annette came for her annual visit to Calif. On this occasion, she decided she and I needed a special bonding day in the city (SF), so we got all dressed up (I was never allowed to go to the city in pants!) and she took me to the Palace Hotel for lunch. It was the fanciest place I'd ever been in!!! 

We were seated at a small table with a white tablecloth and so much silverware I wondered what they were all for. This was also the VERY first time a server (they were waiters back then) placed my napkin over my lap. For a young "lady", this was the ultimate thrill! Annette was soft-spoken as she indicated what service was used for what part of the meal. She looked like a queen - completely born to this rare (for me) luxury.

This was also the occasion of seeing my first TV star - Robert Horton, of Wagon Train - my favorite western show! I think I drank a gallon of water just so that I could go to the ladies room and pass his table!

I wish we could have seen each other more often,

Barbara Vander Putten
January 20, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette took US dining in San Francisco
By Laurie Vander Putten Loken
Let's correct my sister's story.... Aunt Annette and Grandma Van took Barbara the first time.  The next time Aunt Annette was alone as Grandma wasn't traveling that much any more. 

She took US (plural) to the Palace Hotel and made sure we kept our elbows off the table and behaved like ladies.  

She ordered us artichokes, which we never had and by the looks of them would not have again). She taught us the proper way to eat them (I fell in love with them).  

In the mean time Barb spotted her crush, Robert Horton.  We stared constantly and giggled totally agog that we would see such a big star.  Aunt Annette wasn't too happy about that.  Barb and I made up any excuse to go to the ladies room to pass by his table. We managed this a few times. Aunt Annette of course was no fool and pretended not to notice therefore, giving us a memory that lasts to this day (obviously not for Barb since she failed to include me in the story!  

For heaven sake we talked about that day constantly when we became adults!  (Old age is just around the corner for her it would appear!!!). 

Oh, and for desert, she took us to Woolworth's and let us sit at the counter and have ice cream Sundaes....  what a treat!

Laurie Vander Putten Loken
January 22, 2004

I Remember Dick and Aunt Annette's Roof
By Elizabeth VanderPutten

There is a story in our family about my brother Dick as a youngster and Aunt Annette. He should be telling this but since he's not often on line right now, I'm going to start it. He can add to it later.

We were little kids and Aunt Annette, Grandma and Grandpa (aka Pappy) had just moved in to the apartment at 8801 Shore Road in Brooklyn. We went to visit. Uncle Dick was probably about 6 or 7 years old and I was 3 or 4 (Aunt Jean and Uncle John were just infants). 

Aunt Annette was pretty perceptive and  knew that we little kids needed to get out and run around and get some exercise.  She told us after dinner she would take us up on the roof. 

As Aunt Annette tells the story, all of a sudden (little) Dick started to cry.  She asked him why. He said he was scared. Obviously, my brother was thinking of a roof like we had in our house and everyone else had that we knew -- they were all slanted -- not a flat roof like the Brooklyn Apartment. You can picture little Uncle Dick thinking how far down he would fall off if he slid off that roof.

I will always be very glad Aunt Annette did not give up on taking us outside after lunch -- but not up on the roof. She would walk with us along the shore while we would run and up and down the small hill by the road -- using up our energy and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

January 20, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette and a Buck Rogers Ray Gun
By Thomas J. VanderPutten 
I remember being up at the Lake. As the weekend would arrive I would anticipate the trip to Brewster to pick Aunt Annette at the train station. She would always bring some goodies. 

I especially remember the Schrafft's sugar coated fruit sticks (hard candy in a stick form about 3/8" in diameter about 4" long with a frosted sugar coating). I'd love to find them today. 

There seemed to be some kind of church bazaar of fire department fair going on every weekend and she would give me money to play the wheel of fortunes or the race car that would bounce back in forth before stopping on a number from 1 to 50 . I remember winning a Buck Rodgers ray gun at one of the tables. 

It was sad when we would head back to Brewster at the end of the weekend drop her off.

Thomas J. VanderPutten
January 21, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette and Marshmallows
By Dorothy VanderPutten Urbancik
I remember a few things about Aunt Annette as well. 

Whenever we would go and visit her on Thanksgiving I remember throwing marshmallows out of her kitchen window (I'm really not sure if she knew we were doing this). 

And she would give us banana sandwiches with sugar or some weird concoction right before dinner. 

And then she would take me in to her room and she had a drawer of just the coolest stuff. 

I still have a tea set that she had given to me.

Dorothy VanderPutten Urbancik
January 21, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette's Roof and Marshmallows
by Jill Bonner

I remember loving to go to Aunt Annette's apartment because we could go on to the roof and run around and play and admire the great view. 

I also remember playing hide and seek in the basement with Rich and Michael and Dawn, and going up and down her elevator trying to catch each other on one of the floors. Sounds silly now but to kids at the time it was heaven. 

And I do remember throwing marshmallows out her window as well Dorothy. Although I am sure she didn't know we were doing it I believe dad might have. Knowing him he showed us how to do it. LOL

Jill Vander Putten Boner
January 20, 2004

I Remember Aunt Net's Hoover
By Gary Vander Putten
I never knew that Aunt Net was Aunt Annette until I was 10 years old when my mom ask me to write a card for her at Christmas - Duh? Ya mean like Annette Funicello?. Anyway, she was always my favorite Aunt as she always seemed to have time for nieces and nephews - which became more understandable as I got older. Always very open and only had good and cheerful things to say. Neat presents at Christmas time, including Seagram's trinkets.

I especially remember family gatherings in Brooklyn. The kitchen was Annette's turf after every dinner that we had there - by the time we finished our after-the-dinner-run-around-the-basement, all dishes and silver were washed, towel-dried and put away. Way before anyone left for the night, she was vacuuming the crumbs from the living room carpet with the upright Hoover - always wanted one of those things - with that neat little headlight. It was on those occasions that I developed the habit of napping after dinner by lying down on the carpet near the windows; just dozing off in the midst of my relatives, deliciously enveloped in the pleasant cacophony of adult conversation and laughter, the hiss of the radiator, the occasional fog horn, and always the whirr of Aunt Net's Hoover. To this day I am famous for dozing off on my host's floor at the end of a long dinner party - where I can still hear the vacuum, and long for the hiss, and that time when everything was calm and secure.

When in my teens I remember Annette 'getting sick' and going to the hospital - somewhere near Mineola. Grandma was staying with us. I detected concern but didn't know what to think, she was just sick. After six hours of surgery, the doctor came out of the OR and I overheard him say to Grandma, "I think she will live." Grandma was really upset and it was obvious to me that Annette hadn't terribly forthright in letting anyone know about the severity of her situation. I asked my father about it and he said, 'Welcome to two family curses - bowel problems and keeping everything bad a secret from those closest to you.' Apparently, he has been right on both counts.

Like all VanderPuttens, Annette always had, and still has, a good story to tell. In my adult life I tap this side of her -- on those few occasions where we are alone -- on the phone or in car to or from family event- to understand more about the family history and she was always a willing participant. However, true to form, certain subjects are still taboo. Still, there are plenty of other things to talk about. Her life as the only daughter, sibling rivalry, Lake Carmel - talk about warm memories....her life in business, the depression, Grandma the teacher.

More to come.

Gary Vander Putten
January 24, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette and a Dress from Saks
By Jean Pollack 
I remember whenever Aunt Annette visited us she would always bring a box of Loft’s Butter Crunch candy. And I remember how she always tried to “make a lady out of me”; she would always tell me to walk with my toes pointed inward. 

A very nice memory occurred when I was in college and had no money. During a school break Aunt Annette invited me in to her office to have lunch with her. When I arrived, she told me she was running late and she suggested that I spend the time waiting for her at the dress department at Saks which was across the street from her office in the Seagram’s building. She said she saw a dress in the window that she thought I might like. 

This didn’t seem like fun to me since I only wore dresses when I had to; for church and school. (Yes, kiddies, when I went to college in the Stone Age, women were not permitted to wear slacks, even in bitter cold temperatures), but I reluctantly agreed. 

When I got to the store, I didn’t really like the dress that Aunt Annette had chosen, but I went to the dress department anyway, because Annette was going to meet me there. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a lovely sales woman who offered her assistance (as a rather unsophisticated young woman, who never had sales people approach her this was “cool”). 

Many years later I realized that this entire scenario was orchestrated by Annette. The sales woman asked me if I liked the dress that Annette had chosen, and when I said I didn’t, she proceeded to show me several more dresses, one of which caught me eye. It was a wool herring bone A-line dress that looked very nice on me. It was expensive, about $25.00 (this was 1965, remember), a bit more than the one Aunt Annette had picked out, but she bought it for me anyway. I really like it; loved it, in fact. I wore that dress once a week for the rest of my college days until I began my hospital training. 

Did I mention that I loved that dress? I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. Thanks, Aunt Annette.

January 21, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette's Thoughtfulness
By Brian James Larkin
One thing I always remember about Aunt Annette is her smiling thoughtfulness. Maybe thoughtfulness runs in the VanderPutten family, but she has more than just an average amount of it.

One of the earliest episodes I recall happened on July 18, 1977. Elizabeth and I were married the previous week at St. Patrick's Cathedral in downtown Manhattan. And wow, it was hot! It was so hot that the next day NYC and the Island had a brown-out that flickered on and off in the record setting heat wave that lasted almost 10 days.

We escaped for a week to the relative cool of Adirondack Mountains. However, as we were driving back, the banner headline in the Sun screamed, "Massive blackout grips New York." One other thing is important. Like most cars in the North East in those days, our car didn't have air conditioning. You can imagine what driving in heat wave was like for us.

We left Greenfield, NY fairly early and then roasted for the next five hours while driving out to Manhasset to pick up wedding presents that friends had stored for us. And then we sweltered for another hour driving back in to Brooklyn to see Aunt Annette. You can probably picture the condition we were in when we arrived on Bay Shore Drive.

I remember that when Aunt Annette greeted us at the door, she had towels over her arm and her first words to me were, "To the showers with you, young man!" I've rarely heard more welcome or thoughtful words.

What kind of person is it that is so smilingly and unobtrusively sensitive to others' needs? "To the showers with you, young man!" Whatever it is, that's Aunt Annette.

Brian James Larkin
January 21, 2004

I Remember Aunt Annette at Christmas
By Vicki Vander Putten
I have a memory of Aunt Annette that I would like to share with all of you. Aunt Annette used to come to my grandfather's (Bert's) apartment for Christmas (which we celebrate as a family on the 26th). She was always there with that beautiful smile and loved to watch us open our gifts. When I was 7 or 8 ( I am not sure exactly when), Aunt Annette told me that she thought I was so cute that she wanted to take me home and put me in her top dresser drawer! Well for many years after that, I was so afraid of her! You can't tell a little kid something like that! Every time I saw her, I had visions of me inside a drawer peeping out.

I just wanted to share my story about her during this hard time that we are all going through as a family. Although I didn't spend a lot of time with her, she is a very special lady that I admire. Losing my grandfather was hard, but being around her at the holiday time was nice because she is exactly like him. And I enjoy her stories of her and her brothers growing up. When I see her, it is like having a piece of my Pappy around. My thoughts are with her.

Vicki Vander Putten
January 20, 2004