Valerie Helbert and Edith Helbert

Recorded July 9, 2010 Archived July 12, 2010 40:16 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX006867


Valerie Helbert, 38, shares childhood memories and stories about older relatives with her younger sister Edith Helbert, 36.

Subject Log / Time Code

Valerie remembers Aunt Leona would make dolls out of flowers for her to play with.
She remembers listening to the radio show called “The Rest of the Story” hosted by Paul Harvey at Aunt Leona’s house.
They talked about how their grandmother had a bad relationship with her older sister and how that affected how she treated Valerie and Edith.
The sisters share memories of cooking and recipes gone bad as young kids.
They remember holiday traditions, such as visiting both sets of grandparents on Christmas day.
Valerie shares a memory of getting straight A’s in fourth grade and having her father tell her that it was great but that if she wanted to go to college she would have to keep it up because if not the family wouldn’t be able to afford it.


  • Valerie Helbert
  • Edith Helbert

Recording Location

MobileBooth East


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00:02 Hi, I'm Edith helbert, and I'm 36 years old. Today is July 9th, 2010 or in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and my partner is Valerie my sister.

00:18 Hi, my name is Valerie Hilbert. I am 38 years old on today, July 9th 2010 in Fort Wayne, Indiana having a conversation with my younger sister eats.

00:33 And we're going to talk about can we start with talking about Uncle Eddie and Aunt Leona and Fred? Yeah. Well actually, yes. So you want to know more about them as people are you want to I want to know who ever more but I want to know what you remember about them and ask want to know what you remember about when we used to play there. Okay. So I remember as we said yesterday. I don't remember really how to find the house. But I remember the hollyhocks on the outside of the house because Aunt Leona used to make these little dolls for me out of hollyhocks and the boss of the flowering part was this the pretty skirt out of the lady and then she use like a a bulb that had opened as a head on it and she would make me these pretty little fancy party ladies and also she had I mean, she was grandmother sister so she had a lot of

01:32 Plants and she had the money plant was the first place. I saw the money plant with the real translucent leaves. And so every time I see the money plan, I think of Aunt Leona and when you walk in her house, you would walk into the kitchen.

01:45 And she would usually be shooing Fred back and that was the seeing eye dog of Uncle Dee and he'd be out in the dining room. Usually there was kind of like a little bay window or sitting area or something. I don't know exactly what it was but he was sitting there all the almost all the time of sun porch for a bay window, I don't remember it as a I just kind of remember it was kind of part of the room still so don't feel like it was a porch but so he would be there.

02:18 And I don't I don't remember a lot about Uncle day. I remember that he was blind obviously and he was

02:28 I had a Gruff voice and he was the expert when we did family butchering for around Thanksgiving time. Everyone would come and consult with him about what the ratio of sugar and pepper and everything went or does he just think it was mostly he he held Court from inside and people would come in and ask him about things and I think you know Dad and Dwayne and other people would come in and ask him questions about how to do it properly but he was sort of he didn't go too far as much as I remember unfried was always there and the other thing I remember about Uncle Dee is that he always listen to the show on the radio. And of course, I'm going to blank out on the name of the guy right now. It's that night. You probably can think of it though. He tells the stories the rest of the story. Oh Paul Harvey Paul Harvey

03:28 I said his house at their house cuz I would be with him and he be listening to that and mostly I was hanging out more with Aunt Leona and go ahead and do you remember when we make bean bags? Not really you got to throw him from the foot of the staircase. I do remember remember the the curtains that went up that they are the stairs. Yeah, they were at the bottom into the dining area and off of that room. There was a a fancier parlor that we would sit in and staying with a family maybe what I remember about the curtains was they had those little cloth buttons through the button holes all the way down. And so we would I just remember spending time buttoning and unbuttoning those curtain over that at all. The other thing I remember about their house. Is that outside

04:28 From off the kitchen there was an access off the kitchen and there was like a little Playhouse set up shelves and like a little pretend stove and stuff and on the porch on a porch and I spent more time there by myself because you and Eli were sick or something. I don't remember exactly why but I know that I spent some time on my own with Aunt Leona. How old were you do you think?

05:05 Like 8 or 9 maybe 9 or 10 somewhere in there cuz I know we had chickenpox after you did. Yeah, but I already knew that was over Christmas at what I remember is I mean Eli had a lot of health issues and you had the Croom A really bad year and I couldn't grade for about a month. Yeah. I think I stayed with Aunt Leona some of that time cuz Mom was probably at the hospital with me. Yep. In fact, I remembered. Yeah and grandmother was still teaching school and Grandad was dad's working and Dad via Granddad was still doing his doctor stuff. So I was with Aunt Leona because they were home cuz she was taking care of Uncle day. Anyway. Okay. So I I remember she kept lots of cards in scrapbooks in the old-fashioned kind of scrapbook like the brown paper with the the tabs and and the the plastic sheets. No platanos eat before the plastic.

06:05 The plastic sheets can arrange a picture, We know that now I didn't know that then so was the old stuff and so she would have me making craft things at the table or I would play in that little play kitchen on the back porch. And I remember she's the one maybe I had seen this food thing in a

06:23 In a cookbook or something with Mom, but it was the first time I got to make this fancy salad Sheila as really not fancy, but I was really proud of myself. It's a couple of lettuce leaves and then you take a tomato and you open it up into a flower shaped, you know, and then you put the cottage cheese in it and I just thought that was really cool cuz we got to make those for lunch. I think that's kind of what I remember about Aunt Leona cynical days. And of course like huge family get-togethers with Penelope's family and clear clear Nails family in all of Dad's cousin's basically all you know, all of her kids for Thanksgiving.

07:06 I don't know like if you had to describe her to somebody who doesn't know her what did she look like Aunt Leona was grandmother's older sister, and she

07:18 She looks like a grandmother. I think I remember her more in later years when she had Alzheimer's and she had really pretty snowy white hair like grandmother at had and she was always sweet. Even when she had Alzheimer's she was like the sweetest person you would ever meet like, I don't remember her ever being impatient or flustered at all about anyting and

07:49 I don't remember ever being reprimanded by her which goodness knows we had our moments with pretty much most of her husband.

08:00 Yeah, I mean clearly it's a child's memories. I was pretty

08:04 Young. I'm not sure I would really know physically what she looks like except that. She wasn't tall.

08:11 And she wasn't heavy. No.

08:14 I think she may have been a little taller than gram there Homeworth. Oh, yeah, which made it would have made her maybe 56457 my height be very possible cuz I would say grandmother was

08:27 Probably around 55456. I don't know though. How tall is 5-6 I mean no. No, I mean like granddad's on his tongue out now he is not.

08:50 I remember playing games with some some cousins and I don't remember who they all would have been because I feel like there was a boy there and I can't think of any boy cousins. We have to we have a boy cousin remember playing with any boys. I mean when I think about those days the cousins I remember our only Amy. Yes. They're the first ones. I think of Inland Amy Shea and then Jackie and Tara Tara.

09:22 And there I know there were older cousins. I I don't remember. Okay anybody?

09:28 I do remember that there were some other kids, you know, there was another connection somehow.

09:37 ARS on grandmother's side of the family where there was another girl while there was another girl though. That was a bit older than and she's somewhere around your in Angie's age. No, I think and she might have had a younger brother, but I don't know who they are. So so that's something we need to ask. Yeah.

10:03 Alright, the other place we went for a special treat kind of was to Aunt Bill's in Timberville. And I know exactly where her house is, right so good place to watch Parade from do you remember doing that? Yeah Fourth of July parade and whatever else came through one of us a lollipop in a parade and didn't give the other one in the other one of us burst into tears. So I can't remember if it was me to Pride or you either one of us. So yeah, I don't remember. I think we were pretty mad at you.

10:42 But what I remember about Aunt Bill's is very little I remember planting corn outside one year and I remember riding cars around but it's really a vague memory of brightness cars around inside want me to tell you about the inside of her house in the Declaration. I mean, I remember the layout it was you went in and there were two big rooms that were connected in the hallway and then the kitchen was kind of background to the last think the kitchen actually had been imported originally and then got you know, cuz it was an old house and I don't know how long it's been there. But Granddad side of family had been in Timberville for quite a long time AC are turn our great-great-grandfather was a 10 Smith and has his name on the roof of some of the buildings in Timberville snow on the underside of that 10 that he put up. Yeah, which is cool.

11:39 How many on the pens guys told me that? I don't know his name and then couple of the little lady helbert ladies had taught school at the Timberville High School, which isn't there a more but so there were ya Grand dad's side of the family was around there but Aunt Bill's house. I remember the I mean the porch is awesome. Yeah, it wraps around a couple of sides and she had 83 so I don't remember it's three ever just too but it's it's a nice broad porch and she had more than one porch swing but my favorite one was the one that

12:19 The back was high and hinged and it could flip over so that you had a cradle and you could just lie and this wouldn't hammock sort of and Swinging it. But when we went inside you go in the front door and you'd be in this hallway with a staircase that came down.

12:39 And a ha ha beside it would go back to that little kitchen area off of that were those two connected rooms and one was kind of a sitting room or the grown-ups usually sad and did their chatting and visiting and then there was a dining room which was the room that had in the windowsill the two glass jars of candy or in that dining room and yeah at the end of each visit, we got to pick either a lemon drop or sour ball or whatever was in the candy jar off of the main hall on the other side was a big room, which is where she kept

13:19 The

13:20 Police car pedal car and a fire truck pedal car and unfortunately, there were three kids and two things. So that was always a little bit of a competition but he was pretty small but he wanted desperately to be at work but we would ride around and around and around cuz you could go from the hallway three the room the adults were talking in the dining room in this big circle and then we would just make endless crazy loops around and around and around the other thing is she would let us slide down herb and I was going to ask you if we ever went upstairs cuz I can't remember either. I don't think we got to see the rooms upstairs which our bedrooms and stuff. I'm sure but we were encouraged to Slidell and yeah, yeah, it was a highlight of going there cuz we were definitely not allowed to slide down any other banister ever down the one on there.

14:20 Yeah, it is the filial at the bottom. It was a lot worse that grabbed her Helmer and then it was it was she loved having us over and she would invite us over. Even when we were in school. She would invite us to come over, you know after school one day for a

14:44 Ice cream Trader something we would we would know that we had a

14:48 Kind of an afternoon plans to go down bills what? I remember being really upset one time cuz I wasn't feeling well at school and I ended up going home early cuz I was kind of sick and that meant I missed going to Aunt bills and have an ice cream social really mad.

15:06 And yeah.

15:12 Grandad help hurts

15:16 Aunt maybe I think something like that it was an old relative I think that's right. I think you and I don't even know what her name would have been besides Anvil he was Willamina. Okay, and maybe help out or maybe Garber he is. Well, I mean it to her daughter right or not. I think maybe she is also opening again, but I could be wrong about that. I don't know. I know the other side of the family called her aunt Willie, okay.

15:49 I don't know who the other side of the family would have been Russell's kid. I don't Aunt Martha and oh and her own kids and all that Yeah Yeah Yeahs related to somehow. That's how our somewhat related to see the or bomb that whole weird thing. And I that she is by marriages. So I think Aunt bill was married to

16:22 I feel like they called him PT or something like that, but that's some relative of Phoebe or boss. We should ask Dad about that, too.

16:31 Eli has a brother or younger brother.

16:55 Next on my list is Aunt Pete.

16:58 You might remember more about her than I do. I don't remember a lot about her and for the purposes of the recording she's moms moms and bunches baby sister Heights ter sister and her name is actually Edith. Yes, like you like me and like for some reason she's Aunt Pete because when she was too she would get carried around on her daddy's shoulders and she would Pat him on the head and say ptron Piedmont like sweet man. I know that and I know grandmother Works codes for the big booty liked her boots.

17:41 Well nathia. Okay. So what do you remember about her? I remember that she was really dark and looked like.

17:53 She looked Native American and she had a really dark hair even when she was really old.

18:03 And because we have the same name, she would cuddle me a lot and I just remember.

18:15 Grandmother helbert. Yeah. Well, I'm not sure that I remember a whole lot more than that. I remember that she lived in Peoria, Illinois and came to visit occasionally and seem to be on really good terms with Grandmother, which is something to be when she was one of five and not really on good terms with her other three siblings read one of my thing to never talk to you her to Pete Noto grandmother.

18:46 I don't know about that. I don't know which way that when I just know that some of that carried over into me and you and how she treated me because she didn't have a good relationship with her older sister. So she thought that I was taking advantage of you and stuff so I know but that wasn't weird about that. But what's your favorite questions?

19:17 Well, I was the middle child and she was the middle child. She had a really bad relationship with her older sister felt. Her older sister was somehow dominating her or

19:29 Treating her unfairly and it carried over into adulthood. And so when we were growing up if we if he does and I visited grandmother's house and at the same time which I think in the summer, we would have one week with all the kids together and then we would each get a week by ourselves. But the week when we were all together, I kind of got my way about anything. Yeah, or if if things were left out like this is when I remember really clearly we were playing with some stuff and I clean my stuff up and you left yours all out on the landing and I got in trouble for leaving stuff out and it wasn't me, but she wouldn't really listen to no no, no, no, no.

20:13 Which got to the point that I don't remember if it was Thanksgiving or Christmas we were going to go visit and I told Mom and Dad I wasn't going because I was going to be treated mean and that was when the family started painting it like our parents started paying more attention to that Antonio and just kind of making it more of a joke, you know not

20:34 There wasn't anything we can do to really change how grandmother was. So at least I didn't feel like it was all.

20:43 Well, yeah, at least somebody understood in mom and dad took it seriously yo, I remember one time I told Grandma they're called burnt that I don't remember why I said this but I said, well, I'm all my grandparents favorite.

20:58 Evidente you have it said yeah, I think so. I don't know. I mean I really believed in was because of the way Grand their brunch was really clearly showed favoritism toward me and it was well and to talk about family Dynamics. I think that might be part of y e Line on gang up on you so bad too because you just kind of like we didn't have to but I think that's part of it.

21:42 Anyway

21:48 What kinds of things well if Monopoly any time we played Monopoly I was always going to lose so I have to be stuck them in Eli was going to win. It wasn't like I was going to win either and you know, what will never play Monopoly again because I suggest I I just gave away my man. But I don't know. What did we I mean we did a lot of

22:29 Kid teasing stuff out. I don't know.

22:34 Like if we ganged up on you we might tickle you like crazy or we might.

22:39 You had a lot of water and you and I fought a lot to do and I don't remember it. What happened?

22:55 Well, it had good parts and bad parts. I would say.

22:59 I think I really looked up to you a lot. I know.

23:09 Lots of things for me that I can remember lots of times where

23:18 It was fun to have siblings. Like we were each other's best friends. We lived out in the country and only had each other to play with basically cuz even when we had neighbors, they weren't very fun. Usually usually not

23:33 And so we had a lot of really cool like imaginative stuff out, you know slowed and boats down the creek and making mud pies isn't playing Pirates walking around you remember walking around in the ladders? Yeah and attack in the yeah, cuz then did the deck was the pirate stuff a little bit, and I don't think I think we made each other walk the plank but I don't think we ever tied anybody's hands up to no. No, no and we would play games inside you when we're supposed to be doing chores like with a vacuum cleaner. I play that game where waiver bird cat cat in the birds the kid that was supposed to be vacuuming with the cat and was trying to catch and we were when you could only be around all had to get over.

24:24 Who's some pretty silly stuff? I don't even play games in the car to where there was a mother's house. Yeah, we had to fold the laundry. Oh, yeah, you always got to be the queen and I had to be the servant to helpful the sheets.

24:49 Yeah, I would have to bring you the Royal Train of the sheets. And then there was you know, his dad always had stuff that we're taking somewhere. So they're being too by 8 to come back through the car. And so it was a counter and it was like the the store or if we're not in the account and the car I don't remember that and a lot of times I remember making menus for the meal. We were going to have and like fancy like we pretended that that the dinner we were having at home was in a restaurant and we fold the napkins up and weed.

25:32 Do you remember making a mess of no I don't for what mom was cooking or would we were actually that was probably after.

25:42 Because I think I was pretty regularly cooking dinner from about age 10 o really cuz Mom was cuz I had to go over when you went to college mom was in grad school. He made me a bunch of little menu cards to do that for new. Do you remember the first time I ever made tuna and taters know but I remember one time when he made spaghetti with an Insider's I didn't know the difference between the Big T and A little tea on a recipe card. And so I put the Big T of salt in a recipe that called for the little tea and it's pretty reasonable and I don't think we had it any other options really am I mean, we had what we had so I'm pretty sure we had to end it weighs food.

26:34 We grew up in Virginia in North Western Rockingham County about 4 miles outside of Timberville.

26:48 Little farm kind of place we had sheep and honey bees and fruit trees that didn't really produce much and Chris Christmas Rays. I remember walking into the creek. Let me tell you about the spaghetti, okay?

27:15 I'm alright, the noodles were kind of like they have flower on them anyway, so they were multigrain or something. And then if you didn't cook them just exactly the right amount of time. I cook them too long. I don't think probably thinking either or maybe the water wasn't hot enough cuz cuz it seemed like they were kind of tough in the middle was pretty good except that Dad decided to add garlic was he always did he would come in while you were cooking and a staff and I think he had messed up taking the top off the garlic and so there was a place in Arlington. But garlic powder. Yeah, at least we didn't use garlic salt has can you imagine lol

28:15 Stop taking a garlic. Well, I remember having the the most garlicky garlic butter in the world. And he made too much of it too. Cuz I was also a dad thing to like not make a normal, like six times what you can possibly need next month of whatever it was cool beans cool beans. I remember some bad things but the ones highways color cool beans are the ones he had made some kind of trying to make jelly and BBQ beans one of the other so he remade them into something else and that was a good and the next thing we knew we had so many things of beans and of course we could have wasted so it went in the fridge and got pushed to the back cuz nobody was going to eat them because they're so bad and they had foil over them. And so one time when we are cleaning out the fridge we looked at it and it was the most beautiful mold array I've ever seen in my life. I mean green.

29:15 Blues like aqua and that is all fuzzy and and that's when Dad decided they were cool beans put the foil back on Roku beans a marker on top and we stuck in back in the fridge. I don't know where that I forgot to ask. But okay. Wow, he wrote some notes download us all and all the babysitter. Gosh. What about her? I just don't remember much better. Maybe that's that's okay. Okay, let's go on a lot of times. We would go to both grandparents, especially for Christmas weed hit one.

29:59 While we do our stockings at home and then we'd hit one in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. Usually grandparents helbert in the morning cuz they were closed and then grandparents bunch in it later in the day cuz we could travel on Christmas Day and there was no traffic and it wasn't too bad. I'll get and nothing was open to prevent try to get there and it was just a DC so it wasn't ridiculous trip either Arlington. Yeah Traditions. I think the Christmas stockings were and maybe when we were younger when we were kids, I think we might have alternated which grandparents we were at in the morning because I do remember a couple of stockings at Grandma's but

30:48 And

30:51 Yeah, so I don't know when that exactly changed but we started doing Christmas at home or two as we got older. Did you ever pay to get your presents? No, I didn't have a good let me tell you about this when I woke up. I couldn't go to sleep cuz I was so excited and I heard mom fill the stockings. So I went and got my stocking cuz we could get it as soon as we were so I looked through everything and I ate all the candy that made myself sick and I read my book and I still wasn't asleep and it was like 3 in the morning. So I snuck downstairs. My present was it was the year that Cabbage Patch dolls were the thing you got the white one better. It was from a bizarre and it was really ugly and I saw it that night and it would came in a old plastic car seat from a real, baby.

31:50 And it didn't fit and I just really didn't like it and I saw it ahead of time and I knew I didn't like it and then I had to pretend that I liked it the next day cuz I've been begging for 1.

32:02 I must have been in fourth grade, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.

32:14 Oh, it was under the Christmas tree downstairs downstairs at the foot of the stairs.

32:21 You got your Cabbage Patch doll before I got one and it did come from somebody had handmade it at the at the elementary school Bazaar sale thing and I think Mom was pretty excited about it because he couldn't afford one of those other ones who later I got really bad gift. I've been begging for a jean jacket and April sethman didn't like us jean jacket and Carol sethman at that time babysat me sometimes and the gene check. The caller was the colors you were supposed to have for the square Levi normal colors that people still wear. Now this had a puffy round something.

33:10 Stuffing in it. It was really ugly and I felt like I had to wear it cuz I had begged and begged for a jean jacket, but I never asked for what I guess I never asked for clothes again. I don't remember really begging for anything because I kind of knew that I probably couldn't get whatever it was.

33:28 And I remember.

33:31 A lot of things that lots of other kids would be getting like, you know, the Letterman jacket or the class ring or whatever even by that point. I mean we talked about this the other day, like I just knew we couldn't afford stuff and I knew we were pretty poor. Did you work so hard in school? I mean you had pretty much as all through high school pretty much it when I was in fourth grade. I got straight A's for the first two six weeks. I means actually for the whole year, but at the end of the second 6 weeks

34:00 Dad said

34:03 He had been looking at the newspaper in hearing the news about the cost of tuition and college and thinking about having three kids and planning for how they were going to get educated and whatever and I think our grandparents had already started putting a little bit of savings account money away for us on each birthday, but he he told me pretty directly that. This is wonderful. And this is how you're going to be able to go to college and if you don't get grades like this, we can't afford to send you a college. So yeah, so that's why I mean I couldn't imagine not going to college. Yeah. I mean there was no other real paths that out for us, although he told me once if I wanted to be a truck driver, that would be okay. As long as I was a good truck. Yeah, we're fortunate. I didn't realize until I went to college that.

34:58 You know having for college-educated grandparents is kind of unique at first people our age. I don't remember any of that Bunch. What took off really? Yeah, I think so. Maybe not. He just started writing and yeah, but I mean, he was very nice. Yeah, but still haven't had that kind of a legacy I think feels

35:22 More special once I got to school and realized I don't not everybody has this but the other thing I would say about education is that I feel like Mom and Dad are really supported us and some wacky and you guys more than me I said, yeah, but I mean they would he would have supported you if you stayed in theater or if you were a truck driver whatever bizarre thing you came up with ultimately. I think that's the big lesson that I have for my parents and our family despite whatever quirky things there are and we could talk for another 3 hours about stuff. I never doubted that I was loved. Yeah, I never

36:04 Doubted that I could do what I wanted to do if I can figure out what that was because that was one of the messages we got you can figure out how to do anything and

36:18 It's the third thing that I really hold on to you is you don't have to have a lot of money to have a good time. Do you remember hearing that over and over? No, but I can see that it fits our situation really what I remember dad talking about it a lot of time, you know like and we would do that. We would go to National Park and have a picnic or we would always had picnics in our backyard, but we went to a lot of I mean we got to some cultural stuff but it was usually the inexpensive kinds of things or things that a whole family could go and do and in a lot of ways that's really something that we're blessed to have had because a lot of people don't have that kind of upbringing

37:05 Appreciate I mean just music lessons and having music around all the time.

37:12 And that was more cultivated from the helper outside cuz grandmother was so and a music herself and gifted that way but

37:21 Yeah, we're pretty lucky people. Yeah, yeah.

37:31 Paul and Sharon Alberts

37:34 And our grandparents were Walter and Boots punch on Mom's side and Janet and holla at helbert home. Dad on That 70s. Yeah, and I love them all. Only Colin is still with us 96.

37:51 Yeah.

37:54 Like everything else you wanted to ask her. Yeah, but we don't have time to talk. We have plenty of time and just will be recorded exactly but thanks for talking about especially the education stuff was really good.

38:10 I don't know where that came from. A little bit about that what I mean, are you I just feel really sorry that you have that much pressure.

38:26 I had I mean, I know you put a lot of pressure on yourself, too. But but to have him say you're not going to go to college if you don't if you don't keep this up.

38:38 Yeah, and I never had that kind of fear. I mean, I just I just knew that I was going to go to college. I think I was another thing I sent it ties back to the how gram of the Brunswick treated you differently to there was some pressure put on me by both mom and dad is the oldest child that came partly from their own experiences. Both of them being that was child cuz I remember sort of complaining about having to cook dinner or having to be responsible for you guys or whatever and being told you're right. It's not fair, but that's what you get to do with the oldest child and we know because we were the oldest too and so I feel like some of that responsibility and pressure

39:25 I mean, I'm still allowed to screw up and stuff. But but it was definitely very much there and it has kind of shape to I am my own sort of the responsible one most of the time and sometimes I kind of envy you and Eli being a little more free-spirited and you know, I think I'm the responsible one. You're the creative one in Eli can do whatever the heck he wants. He's the favorite boy kind of I mean, I don't think that they love him anymore than they love you or me. But yeah.

40:02 I hate to some degree. He walks of water a little bit Yeah Yeah.

40:09 Well

40:11 Thank you. Thank you, and I love you. I love you, too.