Monday, March 12, 2012

Aunt Mabel

Aunt Mabel and The Twins Bud and Sis 1941

Today my cousin Barbara Keehn called to tell me that her mother, my aunt, died this past Sunday.

My Mom (left) and Aunt Mabel at her surprise retirement party from Pepperridge Farms

My Aunt Mabel was ninety years old and in failing health.  She and my Mother worked together for twenty-four years at the frozen foods (layer cake) division of Pepperridge Farms.  Yes, they were the Lucy and Ethel of the conveyor belt line.  The stories they used to tell when management sped up the line.  Just like Lucy and Ethel at the chocolate factory.

My Mom and ten paternal aunts at the Tipton Family Reunion 1960
(My Mom is second from the right in the back row and Aunt Mabel to her right with arms folded)

I had many aunts (my father had ten brothers).  Aunt Mabel was one of my very favorites.  When my brother and I were young and lived in the center of Downingtown, almost every Sunday our parents would take us "out in the country" to visit Ed and Mabel (we never called them "Aunt Mabel" and "Uncle Ed.")  Mabel was from the South and to her dying day had that melodious, infectiously happy Southern accent.

We started our Sunday visits early!  This was about 1948 - I'm 3rd from the right

The Tiptons gather at Ed and Mabel's place in the county for a Sunday outing (I'm in the first row fourth from the right with arms folded - my brothers are to the right of me) - 1951

What I remember most about Aunt Mabel was her home made southern biscuits and fried chicken.  Oh my God!  I've never had better since.

Ed and Mabel had five children.  The two oldest were fraternal twins "Bud" and "Sis."  Real names Edward, Jr. and Joan.  They were twins but as different as twins could be.  Bud was very dark (reflecting our grandmother Hester Lewis's Indian ancestry gene pool) and Sis was blonde.
Me with Sis and Bud and our cousin Louise - we all graduated in 1959

My cousins Sis and Bud with Mabel and Ed after their graduation 1959
I am the same age as Bud and Sis

The other three children were Barbara, Janet and the youngest Linda.

Barbara was my brother Isaac's age.  Janet was my brother John's age.  And Linda, well Linda was the baby of the family.  Sadly she died was too young about ten years ago.

Me (skinny with arm on hip) with my brothers John and Isaac and cousins Bud (arm around me) and Janet
After a Summer Sunday of hard play - 1951
Yes, almost every Sunday up until I was about twelve years old we used to go over to Ed and Mabel's in the country and have the best time enjoying a kind of life that we could never have on the cement sidewalks where we lived in a second floor apartment at 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA.  Oh how I remember running in open farm fields on those late summer days playing hide and seek with my cousins.  Some of the best memories of my childhood that I will never forget.

However, as sometimes happens our families gradually grew apart.  We would see Ed and Mabel and The Kids at the family reunions and sometimes at the family funerals.

Me, Mickey and Aunt Mabel at Disneyworld -2000

In 2000 I won a four day trip for two to Disney World as a recipient of the President's Award for Best Guest Service Representative of the Hampton Inn.  No one was available to accompany me on the trip.  My Mother had a suggestion.  She said "Mabel would love to go!"  I asked her and sure enough, my Aunt Mabel was up for the trip!

Aunt Mabel getting ready to eat at the Luau

We took a plane out of Philadelphia International Airport and landed in Orlando, Florida.  We were met at the gate by our driver (the thrill!) bearing a sign with the name "Tipton".  First class!

We had an absolutely wonderful time, even getting to meet Mickey himself!

Sad to say, that was the last trip Aunt Mabel made.  Her health started to fail a few years after that.  I am so glad I asked her to go on this jaunt to Disneyworld.  She was a joy.  Always a hearty laugh and never an unkind word about anyone.

Aunt Mabel and me at the Epcot Center, Disneyworld - First Class! - 2000
This past October I held a family reunion.  Aunt Mabel couldn't make it, she was too ill.  She was being cared for by her son Bud, my cousin.  Our cousin Tommy Tipton hadn't seen his aunt in a while so I suggested that he visit her.  This might be the last time he would see her.  I'm glad he did.

I do not know of anybody in my family who didn't like and love her.  We always left smiling after visiting Aunt Mabel.

If there is any solace in her passing it is this, she is now in heaven with her longtime co-worker my Mother and I bet they're having one heck of a time on that layer cake line!

Mabel Ruth Tipton 


Mabel R. Tipton of Downingtown Mabel Ruth Tipton passed away on Sunday, March 11, 2012, at her home in Downingtown. She was the wife of Edward Tipton, with whom she shared 58 years of marriage before his death in 1998. Born in 1921 in Lansing, N.C., she was the daughter of the late Virgil and Bessie Thompson. In 1985, she retired from Pepperidge Farm, where she worked for many years in the frozen foods department. She is survived by a son, Edward Tipton Jr., of Downingtown; daughters, Joan Salluzzo, of Lancaster, Barbara Keehn, of Downingtown and Janet Drozdowski, of Waldron, Ark.; seven grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, all of whom brought her great joy. Her daughter, Linda, preceded Mabel in death in 1998, as did granddaughter Kimberly in 2005. A funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 15, at the James J. Terry Funeral Home, 736 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, where family and friends may call from 9 to 11 a.m. Interment will be in Union Hill Cemetery, Kennett
Published in The Daily Local on March 13, 2012

Four fabulous Moms - my Aunt Miriam, Mabel, my Mom and Aunt Teresa - 1945
Aunt Mabel and my Mom - 2008


  1. That was a lovely tribute; you do a fine job.

  2. Oh, I'm sorry to hear. I'm glad you were able to enjoy such wonderful times with her.

    My condolences.

  3. My father came from a large family so there were always aunts and uncles about. Too bad that they were very old when I came to be; most of my memories of them were going to their funerals.

  4. Thank you Dr. Spo. You are very kind and generous.

  5. Thank you Rick.

  6. Scott,

    I grew up with many aunts and uncles. Some of aunts are my good friends. We weren't that far apart in age. My Aunt Mabel is one of the last. I'm feeling more alone each day.

  7. I enjoyed these wonderful memories of your Aunt Mabel- a great tribute!
    I had eight aunts and now only two are left (and one of them has Alzheimer's). The family is dwindling quickly.

  8. I love seeing the relationship between your Mom and your Aunt. You can tell that they were great Friends.
    Take care.

  9. Mark,

    You're very perceptive. Yes, my Mom and my Aunt Mabel were best friends. I felt so sad for my Aunt Mabel when she came to my Mom's funeral last year. She knew she lost her best friend. I think that's when she started to really go downhill.

  10. Jon,

    You understand. I was perhaps closer with my aunts than most of my uncles. Maybe it had something to do with me being gay. All I know is that we all got along fabulously. I'm glad you had the same relationship with your aunts.

  11. anne marie in philly7:41 PM

    dr. spo stole my line!

    what an interesting life your aunt led. she saw much in her 90 years.

    my sympathies on your loss.

  12. Thank you Anne Marie. You're a sweetheart. :)


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