Monday, June 8, 2015

Maybelline cousins,1934, 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 Great Depression, the Maybelline family worked and played together.  They were known as a tight knit tribe., They loved playing cards at each other's homes on Friday night and Sunday picnics after Church. 

My father, Billy Williams, loved Spring time at his Auntie E, and uncle Ches' home in Chicago.  He'd romp around with his cousin's June, Marilyn and  Bobby,  when he wasn't at Dundee Military School.  

Auntie E. made everything fun.   Her gaiety and charm was infectious and her laugh could light up a room.   Uncle Ches ran the distribution part of the Maybelline Company and was always ready with a quick joke or a good song.   He'd pile the kids in the car and thought nothing of cruising them  up and down Michigan Ave,  just for the fun of it.

Billy and his cousin June were best buddies.   They loved playing house by throwing a sheet over the kitchen table and crawling underneath it. Auntie E made sure they had homemade snacks and their favorite toys. 

Occasionally the whole gang joined up at Auntie Mabel and uncle Chet's home for Sunday dinner.   Bill and his cousin Shirley, liked to dress up and play Doctor and nurse,  while little Tommy volunteered to be the brave young patient getting shots.  Baby Joyce was just an infant in her mother's arms in 1934,  but she too joined in as she grew up. 

Auntie Mabel's wonderful home cooking was well known in the family and her hugs and kisses gave Bill a real sense of  stability.   Mabel was the Mother figure of the Williams family; sweet, modest and never overbearing or grandiose like Billy's mother,  Evelyn, a true city girl.  Auntie Mabel was naturally beautiful though not a glamour puss, like auntie E and Evelyn. However she was Maybelline's namesake and Tom Lyle's inspiration for his eye beautifier, soon to be coined Mascara in 1935. 

Mabel wore pencil thin eyebrows, had flawless skin and a smile that would melt your heart.  She represented motherhood, apple pie and America. 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 role model, his parents were never able to give him.  uncle Chet with his dry sense of humor and  sharp wit was an important figure throughout Bill's life.

As much as he loved visiting auntie Mabel and auntie E, his favorite place was uncle Noel and auntie Frances home.  They had four children and cousin Allen was like a brother.  They played Cowboy and Indians, wearing real cowboy hats, holsters and matching Western duds right out of a Tom Mix movie.

Allen's little brother Dick, followed them around and annoyed them while they played with their men.   (WW1 metal soldiers.)  Dicky would eventually  tired and crawled into his big sisters, Helen or Neppy's lap, while they sipped  lemonade on hot Summer days.  

Uncle Noel, was Vice President of the Maybelline Company. He was his brother, Tom Lyle Williams, trouble shooter, while TL, was in California, at the Villa Valentino, making Maybelline's beautiful print ads.
Occasionally Tom Jr. joined his cousin's for special occasions.  He was a student at Duke University. Captain of the Football team.

Billy and his cousins were protected from the harsh reality of the Depression,  thanks their uncle Lyle,  and the family working together at the Maybelline Company.

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

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