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Our Family’s 20th Century History in Biographies .. 5
Alison D. (Berger) Boor

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Maud Berger Strauss (Aunt Maud) June 22, 1893 - March 22, 1970, age 77
Claude C. Strauss (Uncle Claude) September 1, 1884 - September 21, 1955, age 71
Buried at Zion Blue Mountain, Strausstown

Maud & Claude Strauss The first mystery about Aunt Maud is the spelling of her name. All her official documents spell it without an “e” on the end, but in church bulletins, newspapers—even her brother’s letters, autograph books and birthday cards that she signed, the “e” is there.

As a young girl, Aunt Maud features in Aunt Carrie’s photo album—they must have been friends. She is rarely smiling in these pictures, but there are a few where she is.

For many years, Aunt Maud worked in a stocking factory which was on the other side of the street from the Berger house, (in the back), owned by the Anthonys. Mom has several rugs crocheted by Aunt Maud with leftover stocking rounds from the factory; this was a wedding gift. Aunt Maud was slow at doing things, which drove Grandma Berger crazy. Also, Aunt Maud would bring home anything that she’d find, any animal, even a cow. One time a girl at work was crying because she didn’t have a place to go, and Aunt Maud brought her home for awhile. Aunt Maud would take her lawn mower through the streets, all the way out to the cemetery, where she would mow around the family plots (before the cemetery became perpetual care). She was a member of the Sinking Spring Lodge, Patriotic Order of Americans, Rebekah Lodge, Hamburg Odd Fellows, the Strausstown Women’s Club and the auxiliary to the Strausstown Fire Co. She really wanted to be married, and marrying Uncle Claude in Bernville one day before turning 37, 6/21/30, put an end to her being an “old maid” just in the nick of time.

Uncle Claude worked at various jobs (once at a turkey farm), but also at Hower’s general store, half a block away from the Berger house. His first wife died in the 1918 flu epidemic. Mrs. (Lily) Hower was his sister, and his other sister, Mrs. Bright, raised his daughter Kathryn. Aunt Maud wanted Kathryn to live with them, but Mrs. Bright liked getting Kathryn’s paycheck (according to Mom) and wouldn’t give her up. Aunt Maud and Kathryn always got along well, though. Kathryn (wearing a blue velvet dress) married Karl Dreibelbis on October 22, 1938; their only child, Barbra, was born in 1939 (she later married Forrest Epler).

When Uncle Claude began courting Aunt Maud (among other things, he walked her to church), he was living at Howers. He had known Aunt Maud a long time before they got married. After they married in 1930, Uncle Claude moved in with Aunt Maud and Grandma and Grandpa Berger. They only had a few years of living alone together after Grandma’s death before he died. He was a very kind and easygoing man. In the family files are three very sweet letters from Uncle Claude to Aunt Maud before they were married. They were very devoted to each other, and would purr at each other like kittens—and then laugh. They were both very involved in the church; at the time of the church’s 100th anniversary in 1939, he was the Secretary of the Joint consistory and the VP of the Sunday School; Aunt Maud was a teacher in the Sunday School and President of the Aid Society. In 1955, Aunt Maud planned a 25th anniversary party for the two of them at Miller’s Hotel in Strausstown, and then Uncle Claude was so ill he was unable to go. She had the party anyway. When Uncle Claude died, Aunt Maud shared the inheritance money, which wasn’t much, with Kathryn.

She used to say that “if you come in the back way you go out the back way,” and she followed this advice when visiting! If there were 13 people at the table for meals, Aunt Maud would stand instead of sitting down and making the number unlucky. If there was any food left in a dish, she would stand there and eat it with a tablespoon right out of the dish—she wouldn’t throw a thing away.

I remember Aunt Maud as a very dour woman, but we have a wonderful photo of her and Uncle Claude smiling at each other. Mary Alice has fond memories of her popovers, “she brought them to all the summer picnics in Nana and Poppop’s back yard. They were kind of like cinnamon and sugar covered doughnut holes and they arrived in a silver dish with a rounded lid. Of course the grandnieces knew what was inside and we would haunt her until she let us have one. She always gave in, even before the main courses were served. She gave in rather readily. I think she enjoyed that she had something we all liked so much.”

She suffered various illnesses. She took very ill during the flu epidemic in 1918, and had pneumonia then also. She once said that she never felt well, that she always had a headache. She took thyroid medication. She would go to the doctor and tell the doctor what was wrong with her! Toward the end of her life she moved in with Aunt Flora and Uncle Dan, and it was in their home on Front Street in Reading that she died of a heart attack, although the house in Strausstown was not sold until after her death.

Linked to  Alison D. (Berger) Boor
Maud B Berger 
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