Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Maybelline Kids during the Great Depression.

Left to right - Bobby, Dick, Tommy, Marilyn, Shirley, June, Allen, Billy, Neppy, Helen, Tom Jr and baby Joyce in Chicago in 1934.


       Though times were uncertain during the Depression, the Maybelline family continued to work and play together and enjoyed getting together at each others homes, for card parties and picnics on the weekendsBilly loved Spring time at his Auntie Eva, uncle Ches' home in Chicago and romped around with their children June, Marilyn and  Robert when he wasn't at Dundee Military School.  Life seemed  more secure than when he was home with his parents Evelyn and Preston who were more interested in their own relationship than having a child.  

      Auntie Eva made everything more fun with her gaiety and charm and though Uncle Ches ran the distribution part of the Maybelline Co. he was always ready for a laugh and though nothing of cruising the  kids up and down Michigan Ave.  just for the fun of it.  Billy and his cousin June were best buddies and often played house by throwing a sheet over the kitchen table and crawling underneath it with snacks from the pantry filled with toys. 

       Occasionally the whole gang joined up at Mabel and Chets' for Sunday afternoon dinners and Bill and his cousin Shirley liked to dress up and play Doctor and nurse while little Tommy volunteered to be the brave young patient.  Baby Joyce was just an infant in her mother's arms but she too learned to join in as time went by. 

      A visit to Auntie Mabel's meant wonderful home cooked food, lots of hugs and kisses and a sense of real stability.   Mabel was the Mother figure of the Williams family; sweet, modest and never overbearing or grandiose like his own mother Evelyn could be.  Auntie Mabel was naturally beautiful though not a glamour girl like auntie Eva and Evelyn even though she was Maybelline's namesake and Tom Lyle's inspiration for his eye beautifier.   Mabel wore pencil thin eyebrows, had flawless skin and a smile that would melt your heart when she took an apple pie out of the oven. But mostly she represented purity, peace and love though out Billy's chaotic childhood.    Auntie Mabel's husband  Uncle Chet was in charge of producing Maybelline mascara and was the epitome of the good husband and father.  Billy longed for a strong, grounded roll model and uncle Chet with his dry sense of humor and  sharp wit became an important figure throughout his entire life.

       As much as he loved visiting auntie Mabel and auntie Eva his favorite place of all was uncle Noel and auntie Frances and their four children.  Billy and his cousin Allen played Cowboy and Indians wearing real cowboy hats, holsters and matching outfits suited for a Tom Mix movie.  Allen's little brother Dick followed them around or annoyed them while they played with their men, (WW1 metal soldiers,)  until he finally got tired and crawled into his big sisters, Helen or Neppy's lap, while they sipped  lemonade on hot Summer days.  

    Uncle Noel was second  in command at the Maybelline Co., and the main troubleshooter when Tom Lyle was in California at the Villa Valentino in the Hollywood Hills.    
     Occasionally Tom Jr joined his cousins for special occasions, but was usually too busy at Duke University, where he was captain of the football team. 

     All in all Billy and his cousins were protected from the harsh reality of the Depression thanks to Tom Lyle and the family working together thorough as the Maybelline Co.  continued grow.

Read more about Billy Williams and his cousins in The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It.

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