Audrey's grand jar collection

by James K Sayre

When we were teenagers, we (my younger brother, sister and I) used to kid my mother, Audrey, about her large collection of empty glass jars. She carefully would clean and save all of the usable glass jars that canned foods had been sold in. (This was probably before the advent of plastic containers; this was in the late 1950s). Audrey had grown up in the depths of the Great Depression (in the 1930s) and so was quite thrifty. Being thrifty was basically a necessity for many folks back then; nowadays, thriftiness is often scorned in our consumer throwaway society, but thriftiness is making a comeback under the banner of recycling and environmentalism.

The funny thing is, that when we kids went out on our own, we each had our own extensive jar collections in our kitchens...

Audrey was born on September 23 in 1919 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and was christened Audrey Bowers. Her parents were Marsden Eugene "Gene" Bowers, born 19 April 1891 and Miriam St. John, born 4 August 1892.

In World War I, Eugene was a U. S. Army aircraft pilot trainer and was stationed in Texas, where he met Miriam. After a quick courtship, which included an exciting flight in one of the training planes, they were married on 20 June 1918. They moved to the Detroit, Michigan area, where Eugene ran a successful electrician business (M. E. Bowers Electric: he didn't care for either his first name or his middle name).

Eugene and Miriam were blessed with two daughters: Audrey, and Joyce, who was two years younger. Audrey studied hard, learned to play the flute and graduated first in her high school class, making virtually all As in school. She paid her tuition at Wayne State University in Detroit by playing flute in the marching band, which played at all the school football games.

In Mount Lebanon, Audrey started, organized and ran the Mount Lebanon Swim Club, which sold season passes to use the outdoor public swimming pool each summer. Audrey also organized the Pittsburgh Flute Club; her organizational talent in this area led to her working as the private secretary to the Dean of the Music School at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. As a concerned and aware citizen, Audrey joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the League of Women Voters (LWV). Audrey was probably my main source of concern and interest in civic affairs and government.

For more information on the marriage of Audrey and Robert, please see the essay entitled, Robert Kedzie Sayre.




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