Mary Ida McCuen was born on November 5, 1910 in Dovesville, South Carolina. She was born to Reverend and Mrs. Will McCuen (Ida Burts). Sadly, Mary's mother died on Easter Sunday 1914 when Mary was only 3 1/2 years old. Miss Julia, a lovely lady in the community, lived with the McCuen family and took care of Mary and her two brothers after their mother died. In 1917, Mary's daddy made an unfortunate choice when he remarried and Mary had a very difficult childhood with a wicked step-mother.
Upon graduating from high school, Mary went to the Baptist Hospital in Columbia to train to be a nurse. She graduated and became an RN. Mary served in the Army during World War II and also during the Korean conflict. She became a Second Lieutenant and remained in the reserves after World War II. She was a nurse at the Veteran's Hospital in Columbia for the remainder of her career.
Aunt Mary never married but she had eight nieces and nephews that she adored and treated like we were her children. Whenever she came to visit us, she would bring me a box of animal crackers and take me to town to buy a toy. At Christmas and birthdays, there was always an envelope with money.
We spent several days with her every summer and she always had ham and potato salad for us when we arrived. While in college, a friend was married in Columbia. She allowed my friends to come with me to her house and get ready for the wedding. There was a bad storm that afternoon and when we arrived, she was so worried about us getting there safely and was sitting reading her Bible and praying.
When I had my first apartment, Aunt Mary gave me money for a house warming gift. While doing graduate work at USC in Columbia, I spent two nights a week with her when I had evening classes. As the work load increased, she invited me to live with her that summer so I would not have to commute.
Aunt Mary was a very caring and generous person. If she had a nickel, she wanted someone else to have it. When she became aware that her hair dresser's special needs son needed a burial plot, she bought another one for herself and gave hers to the woman's son. She gave 30-40% of her income to special causes, most of them benefiting children. She had such a difficult childhood and wanted to keep that from other children. As a family member has said, she was 280 degrees the opposite of what she saw as a child.
Pink was Aunt Mary's favorite color and I like to think that this is where my love of pink came from. It is my privilege to have her beautiful set of china which has pink flowers. The pattern is Old Rose by Arcadian. Her crystal is here as well. She had two Hummel figurines and they are now a part of my collection.
Having no children, Aunt Mary left her house to her eight nieces and nephews. Upon receipt of my portion, I was able to purchase a beautiful Yamaha small grand piano. She had a picture in her living room of a lady playing the piano. This picture was offered to me and I was so happy to have it to hang in the room with the piano.
Even though I have these wonderful gifts from Aunt Mary, the greatest treasure I received from Aunt Mary was her unconditional love. Thank you Aunt Mary for the influence you had on my life. What a beautiful legacy!