I want to share a little bit about one of my favorite aunts, Aunt Mary Clay Thomasson. She was dad’s sister, ten years older than he. Aunt Mary Clay played on the 1930 girls’ basketball team at Sharpe High School. She never married and all of the nieces and nephews were her kids. One of her favorite sayings was, “El, I’ma tellin’ you.” I can still hear her say that.
She lived with Grandma and Grandpa and worked at the shirt factory in Paducah until she retired. Every afternoon when she got home from work, she would work the crossword puzzle that was in the local newspaper and could complete it in a very short time. My sister and I both still like to work puzzles today; I guess we got that from her. She also got McCall’s Magazine which had the Betsy McCall paper dolls and clothes inside. My cousin Angelyn and I both tried to be the first to cut those paper dolls out of the magazine. We also cut the models out of Aunt Mary Clay’s Sears & Roebuck Catalog and used them as paper dolls. One Christmas, she bought Angelyn, Cheryl and me a Betsy McCall doll; I believe Cheryl still has hers.
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, Aunt Edith and Uncle Chapel took Cheryl, Angelyn and me to the Ice Capades in Evansville, Indiana. I believe Aunt Mary Clay and Aunt Avis came along to help with us girls, but I could be wrong about that. About the only thing that I can remember about the show was some of the skaters dressed as stewardesses and pilots, and a plane fuselage was one of the props. But, I loved watching all those people skate around the rink; they looked like they were having so much fun.
When I was five years old, I fell ill with cerebrospinal meningitis and spent several days in the hospital. Aunt Mary Clay stayed at the hospital with me since Dad had to work and Mom had to care for my baby sister. At one point, hope for my survival was fading so the doctor decided to give me a massive dose of penicillin and told my parents that if I survived the medication dosage, I stood a good chance to live. Yep, I survived but I’m allergic to penicillin.
After Dad passed away, Cheryl took Mom and Aunt Mary Clay on several road trips. One particular extraordinary trip was to Cape Kennedy where they watched a space launch. She also took them to her home in Georgia. When Aunt Mary Clay became ill and was in the hospital, most of us kids were there with her until the end. While we were planning her funeral services, we discovered that her middle name was actually Isabella, not Clay. Angelyn and I both admitted that at least one of us would have named our girls Isabella had we known. After Aunt Mary Clay’s death, we went to her house to take the things that meant the most to us. We all found treasures that would always remind us of our dear aunt. Grandma made dozens of quilts and there were enough for each of us to have at least one. I also found pictures of my dad and letters that he sent to Grandma when he was in the Navy.
Aunt Mary Clay was a special lady and I hope you enjoyed getting to know her.
See ya next Wednesday.