When Great-Aunt Myrtle lost her husband, Clarence, in 1950, she picked up the fractured pieces of her life and returned to work. For the next 36 years, she was the no-nonsense proprietor of McAllen Upholstery Shop in McAllen, Texas, a woman ahead of her time.
When Richard developed tuberculosis in the late 1920s, he moved his family to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to receive treatment. He recovered and the family decided to stay
The Hembrocks took Great-Aunt Myrtle’s father, Hans, and mother, Catherine, to live with them above the shop. According to the 1940 U.S. census, Great-Aunt Myrtle was a housewife. She and Clarence had no children.
A Family Affair Business
Great-Grandma Stolley hand-braided rugs to sell in the shop and Great-Aunt Myrtle offered sage advice and skillfully sewed drapes that their clients greatly admired.
She Went Out With ‘The Girls’
Great-Aunt Myrtle was active in the Firefly Garden Club, McAllen Business Women’s Club and a service group called the Zonta Club of West Hidalgo County. She continued Clarence’s commitment to offering top-quality products and service, plus she kept abreast of changing styles, trends and materials. All the while, Great-Aunt Myrtle honed her business skills.
Great-Aunt Myrtle’s nephew, Richard Jr., his wife, Grace, and their four children, who also lived in McAllen, always treated her with great kindness and respect.
She Never Forgot Her Sweetheart
Behind Great-Aunt Myrtle’s favorite chair on the shelves of the rack was a collection of miniature china shoes. She told me that every month when Clarence went downtown on a Saturday morning to get a haircut, he would stop by the drugstore. He’d buy his sweetheart a token of his affection. Although her last home was small, Great-Aunt Myrtle always displayed those shoes given to her by the love of her life.
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Here are more inspiring (and surprising) women’s stories I hope you’ll enjoy:
Reflecting my cherished Western Canada and Texas rural roots, I am irresistibly drawn to the stories of country people whose lives resonate with purpose, courage and hope. I invite you to read more about them at www.elainethomaswriter.com to see other stories I’ve saved.