Unlike the previous elders I have interviewed and profiled in the past, 101-year-old Aunt Mary, was ready to interview me. One of the first questions she asked was if I knew Michael Strahan. I guess anyone from the media must know Michael Strahan in her eyes. I kindly replied that I knew of him but I did not know him personally, so if any of you know Michael Strahan personally please send him to visit Aunt Mary! She said she wants him to adopt her.
Mary was quite delightful as well as knowledgeable about many occurrences all the way back to World War II.
She is originally from San Antoine, Texas and still has her “83” Oldsmobile that she uses to only drive to the store and back home (she really stopped driving about a year ago). She was married to Fred Yarber, of the Newton Street garage and was fishing buddies with Bill Watson.
She has wonderful friends such as Mamie Hansberry and many more including a nephew Chris, who takes excellent care of her and visits with her daily request of donuts for dessert. Aunt Mary told stories about Central Avenue in its heyday when entertainment and economics were flowing there. She mentioned venues such as The Lincoln Theatre, The Clark Hotel, etc.
She also recalled December 7, 1941 and Pearl Harbor. She had been in her Oldsmobile listening to the radio with her feet hanging out of the car door as her husband was getting the Christmas tree at a Florence and Central lot when the announcement blared that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.
Aunt Mary said she became scared and ran to Mr. Yarber, then hurried to pick up their baby so everyone could be together safely. Shortly thereafter many Japanese properties were confiscated and families were sent to concentration camps. Tokyo Rose was one of their neighbors in Watts who was a messenger broadcaster….as she told the story she told Ricky (my photographer) he could look it up in his phone to verify her story!! I had to ask Chris if he was sure his aunt was over 100 as she looked at some of the photos in his cellphone. She wore no glasses and she was scrolling the photos and maneuvering with skilled precision. She also recalled that people had to get dark drapes for their windows.
Aunt Mary has traveled abroad to Paris and has had many other adventures.