Maplewood History: It was May-May, Not May-December by Mary Piles

Mary Piles, who has seen a lot in her 43 years of employment at the Citizens National Bank, recounted this story while commenting on the relationship between Waldemar Stertzing and his newly adopted daughter, Gertrude Madden. I started to include it in one of the posts about Stertzing but then thought that this is such a great story that it deserves its own post. 

Mary wrote:

Adult adoption must have been a kind of common thing to do, to adopt a person no longer a child. Many did it through unconsummated marriage.

 We had a customer who was a maid in a home as a teenager.  She cared for the mother of the family during the diphtheria epidemic. The mother eventually succumbed to the diphtheria as did their 20 year old son. 

After the son’s death she remained in the father’s employ. As the years went by, the old gentleman became concerned about what would happen to her when he passed. So he married her in order to protect her from certain members of his family who he thought might turn her out with nothing.  She cared for him faithfully until his death.  At which point she became a fabulously wealthy woman. 

Every week she would take the bus and a sack lunch out to the cemetery to sit in the mausoleum with the 3 people who she loved so well.  I remember when she came into the bank, thinking she was a poor old soul without a cent . She was not what she looked like. She never spent much of her inheritance.  

When she passed away, we ( the bank) were her executor. She left everything to multiple charities.  At the mausoleum, we waited, (alone, we were the only mourners), while they opened the fronts of the plates, took out the coffins and rearranged the burial order. 

The father was placed on the bottom with his wife placed above him. The son was placed on the other side of the mausoleum with the maid placed above the son. We were confused, the cemetery said it was firmly in the contract and must be performed. It seems that all those years ago she had fallen in love with the son, and wanted to restore the correct order, at least in death.

What a wonderful story.  Thank you so much, Mary.

Doug Houser     July 21, 2020

5 thoughts on “Maplewood History: It was May-May, Not May-December by Mary Piles

  1. Thank you, Nancy, for describing to us your experiences while working at the bank. I wish we still had a Woolworth’s lunch counter.

  2. What a beautiful story to start my day!! I worked at Citizens National Bank in 1953-55. I got the job through school in the DOA (Diversified Occupations) program. I started as the “do everything” and worked in the basement. I produced letters on a machine (don’t remember what it was called), and prepared the mail to be sent out. I also took care of stock items and delivered them upstairs when needed. Eventually I was moved upstairs as the “Bond Lady”. My Mom also worked at the Bank as the switchboard operator. We always went to lunch together, usually at Woolworths lunch counter. The person I remember so well from that time was Mr. Box, the Janitor.

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