October 28, 2013

My Aunt Mamie

I will never forget her. My Aunt Mamie was my grandfather's sister. She was born on December 11, 1907. My birthday is December 12. She thought it was perfectly wonderful our birthdays were just a day apart. 

Mamie cared for and helped raise her six younger siblings after her mother, Elizabeth RAY ALLEN (Sissy), died in childbirth. I'm sure she did a lot more than "help" raise them - her father was a moonshiner and spent more than a few nights in jail. Mamie was 21 years old when her mother died giving birth to Marvin Eugene ALLEN. 

The family lived in the New Light area of Wake County, NC. That's just north of Raleigh and just south of the Granville County line. 

At some point, probably in the early 1940s, Mamie moved to Raleigh where she took a job in the laundry of Dorthea Dix State Mental Hospital. She and her sister Henrietta walked from Neuse (near the intersection of present day I-540 and US 401) to Dix - approximately 11 miles following the railroad track to work each way. 

Later, she became a very accomplished seamstress working for Caudle's Tailor Shop in downtown Raleigh by day and moonlighting by night to make ends meet. She lived in a small house on Bloodworth Street and then in a two story house on Pace Street, both near downtown Raleigh.

Her father Eugene was living with her in the house on Pace Street when he died. Her brother Bill - who was diabetic and was suffered from mild mental retardation- also lived with her. I never heard him speak but he always had a smile a mile wide.

Aunt Mamie was the hardest working woman I've known. She cared for her father and her siblings all her life. She had a 6th grade education and never married.  She extremely humble and devoted herself to caring for her family. 

Somewhere along the way she learned how to make the MOST FABULOUS 8-layer chocolate cake I've ever tasted. I was not allowed many sweets as a child (perhaps that explains a lot!), but Aunt Mamie would always sit me down at her little kitchen table and put a piece of cake and a big glass of orange juice in front of me as though she thought the juice would negate the cake.

Aunt Mamie died in 1982. She is buried in New Light Baptist Church Cemetery just a few miles from where she was born.

No comments:

Post a Comment