Monday, April 4, 2011

Audrey Elizabeth Styles 1920 - 2011

I think the one thing mom gave me besides a best friend of 48 years, is a connection to history. I wish now I had taken notes. Born in rural Pennsylvania during the depression and a war bride.
She loved this bridge. It is known as the Tunkhannock Viaduct built between 1912 and 1915. It held the title of the largest concrete bridge for 50 years. Audrey's father help build it. Rex Holley worked as a steam shovel operator for coal mining in West Virginia. He moved to Pennsylvania to work on a large railroad construction project that ended up making the record books. While staying at a boarding house he met my Grandmother working as a house keeper and by 1920 they had a second daughter, Audrey. Mother always said that if not for that bridge, she wouldn't be here today. I guess neither would I or her granddaughter.

Audrey attended secretarial school admittedly to avoid getting a job right away. After graduating she moved in with her older sister and her new husband who had settled in Point Pleasant NJ. I'm trying to picture Mom as a college girl in the 1940 version of "Jersey Shore." Audrey met a local young man and got married at the age of twenty. She was widowed at the age of twenty one.  Her husband John R. Carleton was killed in the Battle of the Bulge.


Now being a war widow, the Department of Defence gave her preference hiring for a position at Naval Weapons Station Earl in Colts Neck NJ. She worked there for many years and met her second husband, a WW2 navy veteran. Audrey married him and gave him two sons a year apart. Within a decade that husband died of a stroke. Widowed again this time with two young boys and a mortgage.

About 1962 she met another sailor Frank Styles, I guess she had a thing for men in uniform. They married and had me in '63, he went to Vietnam in '64. Their rocky marriage ended 13 years later when he died leaving her with a rebelioness teenage boy. Widowed the third time. I could write pages about her humor, wisdom and strength. Tell all of you about her tough farm girl attitude, and a mean right hook that could drop a 15 year old boy where he stood. I remember one time she was staring off into space and I asked what she was thinking about. She tearfully replied "I bet if he hadn't died in the war, we would still be married."

When asked about marriage: "My cooking has already killed three, no more."

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