By Marie Malone
During the Great Depression, in 1937, in order to survive, my family had to split up. At age 14, I found employment as a live-in caregiver to Mrs. Sally Tomilson of Milford, Del. She was a cripple in her mid-90s, but still remained very mentally sharp. She used a wheel chair and crutches.
I did the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and hand washed on the scrub board. I dressed and undressed and bathed her. She paid me four dollars a week. I could buy a pair of new shoes for two dollars a week and a new dress for one dollar.
In September 1937, I turned 15. I attended Milford High School. Rain or shine I walked to school. I filled the coal stoves with coal and made her lunch. During my school time she took care of herself. After school and on weekends, I did my chores.
During December 1937, Mrs. Tomilson developed pneumonia and had to have a full time caregiver. My family reunited and I went home to Maryland.
Mrs. Tomilson knew that I loved American history. She had attended President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. And she showed me her invitation. She told me what life was like when she lived there in Lincoln’s and (Vice President William Henry) Seward’s time. She lived there during the hunt for those connected to the Lincoln assassination and the attempted assassination of Seward. She lived there during the trials, the hangings and burials.
During the Second Inaugural Ball, it is reasonable to believe that at some point Mrs. Tomilson was touched by Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. It amazes me, Marie Towers Malone, who is still alive at age 90, that I could have had a direct connection with the Lincolns through this memory.
Marie Malone is Homer Safeway Manager Bob Malone’s mother. During World War II she worked in shipping at the Pentagon, sending goods to the soldiers in various units from Africa to Siberia. She raised her children in Washington, DC until 1965, when they moved to Alaska. Their move came as her husband, Josh Malone, was transferred from Andrews Air Force Base in D.C. to Elmendorf. In Anchorage she worked for the National Weather Service, from which she retired. She continues to live independently in Anchorage at the age of 90 and wrote this remembrance prior to Christmas.
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