Aunt Mary and Uncle Danton

(1898-1964) (1895-2001) 

Olga S. Hardman

Danton Leon Caussin, brother of my mother, Leah, married Mary Margaret Dixon in Pittsburgh, PA, on November 6, 1920. Mary was born on a farm in Flat Rocks, Preston County, the 7th of 9 children. At the time, there was a popular saying that espoused that the seventh child born into a family would be very versatile and would be able to do anything. Mary would come to regret that she was the seventh child in the Dixon family, because everyone expected her to be able to do anything and everything simply because she was the seventh child. 

Mary came to Clarksburg to live and work for the telephone company in 1919 and it was then she met Danton Caussin. They met at a dance in Clarksburg and frequented many dances throughout their dating years.

I remember my Aunt Mary as a beautiful woman who could do just about anything. She was a marvelous seamstress and a great cook. Right after she and Uncle Danton were married, a salesman traveling through the community with a sewing machine on a wagon stopped at their house to make a sales pitch. Mary really wanted that machine, although she did not know how to sew at the time. Of course, Uncle Danton's concern was paying for the machine, but since Aunt Mary really wanted it, he and the salesman struck a deal and the machine was purchased "on time" - so much down and so much a month. And Aunt Mary really learned to sew - she became an expert. 

Mary and Danton had three children:  Eugene Dixon (born Nov. 4, 1923,) Danton Leon, Jr. (born Oct. 24, 1927,) and Mary Kathryne (born Aug. 17, 1928.)  Danton Leon, was killed in his mother's arms in an automobile accident when he was only 8 months old. The accident occurred on his father's 33rd birthday, July 7, 1928. Eugene, an insurance adjuster, was also a talented arranger of music for the big band sound and he produced many arrangements for various dance bands around Clarksburg, including his own. He died of a massive heart attack at the age of 53. Mary Kathryne is a Professor of Dance at WVU and Coordinator of the Dance Program.

Since Aunt Mary and Uncle Danton lived just across the side-street from us, I was often at their house. Mary Kathryne and I walked to and from school together through our entire elementary school education. We played together as children and cut up lots of dandelions for soups, stews, etc. as we mimicked our mothers at their cooking chores.

I recall that when I was very young, Uncle Danton kept several hutches of big Belgian hares. He even got the nickname "bunny" for the expertise he acquired in this pursuit. Even today, many older people refer to Danton as "Bunny" Caussin. 

While Mary Kathryne was growing up she was a dance student of Mary Berger and regularly appeared in dance recitals. Aunt Mary had become such an adept seamstress by then, she could fashion Mary Kathryne's recital costumes from pictures.

I probably became closest to Aunt Mary when my children were babies. Since I still lived across the street, this time in the garage apartment behind the Caussin family home, I often carried my first-born over to see Aunt Mary after he had had his morning bath. The nicest compliment she could pay me, a new mother, she often did, "Oh, honey, you keep him so nice." We often sat on the deck of their home in hi-back deck chairs passing my new baby back and forth to admire. That baby, my oldest son Michael, grew to love Aunt Mary and Uncle Danton so much, that when his son was born he named him after Uncle Danton.

Aunt Mary was a wonderful cook. I still remember the taste of her home-made bread, various jams and jellies, all kinds of pickles, and chestnut dressing for the turkey. Mary Kathryne continues the family tradition and still makes chestnut dressing for her family's Thanksgiving dinner. Besides the great food on Aunt Mary's table, one could always find a lovely bouquet of flowers. She loved fresh flowers and almost always had some, if available, on her dining room table.

Among Uncle Danton's many avocations, raising roses was one of his favorites. Near the top of his vegetable garden he had another small plot that was radiant with bloom from his roses throughout the summer. When we were young, Mary Kathryne and I often made ourselves corsages using Uncle Danton's prize roses with the fern-like foliage from my father's asparagus plants as fill.

This family like most of the other family units in our clan always had a dog. I remember best a rather nondescript brown dog named Tippy. He was as much a regular part of the area outside the Caussin kitchen door as the door mat on which he lay. Tippy was the Caussin family pet for many years.

Uncle Danton has had a beautiful, productive life for almost 104 years, but unfortunately Aunt Mary died an early death from a massive heart attack when she was only 67. I remember vividly the night Uncle Danton came over with an anguished cry to tell my mother that Mary had just died. It was a warm September evening, my family had just retired for the night, and we heard Uncle Danton's sad news through the open window. Although Aunt Mary has been gone from us for 35 years, I can still hear her hearty laugh. She had a lilting laugh that came from the depths of her being. It always put a smile on my face to hear her and I loved to tell her funny things just to hear her laugh.

I hope she knows what a beautiful contribution she made to my life for her short years among us. Her beloved husband is still an inspiration to every member of our family as he continues to show us how to live courageously and love abundantly. (See Danton L. Caussin.)

© 1999 Olga S. Hardman