In Memory

Mary Arata (Hudson)

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

06/12/09 09:30 PM #1    

Suzanne Helms (Yanok)

Mary was the first woman to die in our class, maybe around '71. Maybe Gerry Wicks remembers.

I grew up in Sleepy Hollow with Mary but in grammar school she got to go to public school while I had St. Anselm's. When we were 4 or 5, Mary and I began ballet classes together and our Moms became best friends, yacking while supposedly watching us. Mary and I took ballet on Wednesdays throughout grammar school. She was very graceful, a natural, but I should have turned to tumbling.

In the 6th Grade, we added ballroom dancing at Marin Military Academy. One Friday night we had to dress up in mini-ballgowns of satin, net and tulle and were picked up and escorted to some auditorium in downdown San Rafael, given orchids bigger than our heads and made to walk the line on a platform out into the audience for the beginning of our cotillion. It was our mothers' idea to prepare us for our debute! I still remember my escort's name but not Mary's: Marty Martinovich. Anyway the four of us got bored, kicked off our mini-heels and played basketball behind some bleachers. We made a deal with our Moms; ballroom dancing including 8th Grade and ballet but no debutes! In the next two years more Sleepy Hollow girls joined us and it was more fun.

The adults' friendship lasted until they passed on a few years back. After they moved to PA, Alice Arata would phone my Mom every other day. After Mary died Alice realized what she had really missed and would constantly cry into the phone to Mom or me if I happened to answer it about Mary. It was sadly obvious Mary was her favorite child of the many.
Our families always had brunch together after Mass on Sundays in Fairfax and the adults went out together Friday or Saturday nights.

In the 5th Grade I was given a baby sister who was the same age as one of Mary's brothers. Om Easters we went to the Fairfax Pavilion and the 4 eldest children got to hide eggs and chocolates for the smaller kids. That was so much fun, to use the old phrase "laugh riot" is appropos. Mary and I just loved watching the group of 8 or so kids it had grown to do by high school trouncing greedily through the greenery.

Mary had the most beautiful hair and curled mine for me, teaching me this in grade school. We also shared the same role in the Marin Ballet Aquacade (with Nancy Friel in the pool). Going into high school, Mary introduced me to Nair, a new wonder drug. In h.s. she got a $20 per month allowance even tho they were so poor but had to buy everything with it and did.

The family seemed poor but in my eyes Mary was one of the wealthiest girls in the Hollow because, since the 7th Grade, every Fri and Sat night she was booked solid for babysitting. She was packed every weekend, the most popular sitter in the Hollow, giving me her spare jobs.

Even tho they had expensive acreage, the Aratas never enlarged their two bedroom house with six persons sharing the one bath. This with George Arata, a funny, gentle man, working but as a kid I thot Mr. Arata must have worked as a Standard Oil gas station attendant instead of in Bush St. Headquarters in S.F.

They seemed so poor! Mary had to share bunk beds with 1 brother and 2 sisters. Finally in the summer of '56 before h.s., they added on another bedroom/bath which Mary shared with another sister. The third sister and almost-teen brother shared the old bedroom while the infant baby had a bassinette for about 3 yrs. in the master bedroom.

Also, one of the first things I noticed when seeing their house was how the landscaping, including the lawn, had died in the whole yard around the house and the dead plants were just left there. It was very dusty like the Joads' and the dust got in the house but no one seemed to notice/care. Dad told me they didn't want to put in a sprinkling system.

If anyone wanted to see Mary after school, they had to go to her house. Mary, as the eldest, had to care for the younger ones. And she was never able to see one movie over the weekend in 14 yrs. because of charges at home...or go horseback riding but sometimes swimming for a short while. Mary cheerfully did her duties, loving her place as the eldest sibling in the family and loving her parents and all the other siblings. She was our class rep to Macy's along with Kathy Marcone. Mary couldn't say "No" to anyone.

Mary had to stop everything at 5 to set the table and make dinner or help with it.

Later college, she became best friends and, I believe, roommates with Gerry Wicks.

Mary was always kind and generous to me and I teased her somewhat for letting her mother rule over her so. Twenty bucks wasn't worth it. The whole family had moved back east to Pennsylvania where Mary settled down after college and nursing school with her husband, Tom. She became a nurse and housewife and mother. Friends that easygoing are hard to come by and I miss Mary to this day and have a lump in my throat now.

May she rest in peace and know we all loved her.

Suzanne Helms Yanok

07/02/09 04:01 PM #2    

Elaine Bernasconi (Noonan)

What a beautiful piece you have written about Mary. It has brought back so many memories. I remember the good times we had together and never really knew all that you have so beautifully written. I've always wondered what happpend to Mary. I would always get a card from her at Christmas. One year I called because I hadn't heard from her. It was such a shock to hear form her husband that she had passed away.
Thank you for the wonderful memories.


07/24/09 05:18 PM #3    

Janet Wilhelm (Richman)

I would like to take up where Suzanne left off.

Though Mary and I weren't close friends in high school, we became very close when we both went to Holy Names College in Oakland and then to St. Joseph's College of Nursing in San Francisco. While at Holy Names, we had "Mixers" with St. Mary's College, which was then, an all male college as Holy Names was an all women's college (this was 1960, everyone). At one of the mixers, within the first several months of our Freshman year, Mary was asked to dance by a handsome young man from Southern California. His name was Tom Hudson. I think, for Tom, it was love at first sight. It wasn't for Mary, but she liked him very much. Tom was persistent. Even when Mary and I transferred to St. Joe's, Tom continued to ask Mary out.

Before I go to the next chapter, I want to say that Mary was the most kind and generous person I had ever met. I know we always say that about people who have died...especially when they are young. In looking back and remembering our time together somehow I knew there wasn't that normal egoism of youth, and as pointed out by Suzanne, that probably was no accident. But she had an innocence about her that was without guile. She was totally unaware of how beautiful she was both physically and emotionally. Good Lord, that girl had the most beautiful physical body. She was the envy of all of us struggling with weight and all the other issues that young women struggle with. Her struggles were of a different kind.

When her family moved to Pennsylvania, Mary was very homesick to be with her brothers and sisters. She decided to transfer to a nursing school in the state to be near her family. She excelled at Bryn Mawr Nursing school. And after graduation, she and Tom struck up their relationship again as he had moved to New York City to work as a stock broker. In August of 1965 they were married and Gerry Wicks Carbone and I were privileged to be bridesmaids in their wedding. After their honeymoon, Patty (my roommate from Nursing School) and I lived in the same building in NYC. Mary and Tom had a cute apartment with a level out patio (unheard of in New York), and Patty and I lived on the 4th floor (in a not so cute apt). Not long after, Mary and Tom moved to New Jersey where they started their family. Lisa was born in 1966 (an absolute dead ringer for Mary), then Will 2 years later and Matthew in the early 70's. By then, I had also married and we saw Tom and Mary and the children on several occasions when they came to California where I had returned after living in New York for a year. And Mary and Tom stayed on the East Coast.

Mary and Tom were happily married with 3 lovely children when she tragically died shortly after the birth of Matthew. Mary left a legacy of beautiful children and a husband who devoted all his young adult life to raising them until his remarriage after Matt graduated from high school. Her daughter Lisa graduated from Osteopathic School in New York state and married a classmate and lives in St. Louis with 2 children. Will went to college in the Pacific Northwest and is married and living in Portland, OR. And last I heard, Matt was working in London in the financial sector of an investment company, I believe.

I have kept in touch with Tom over the years (though I haven't spoken to him in a few years...) and Mary is still very present in his a good way. In spite of some things written about Mary and her family, Mary's love for her parents and siblings was genuine and without complaint. Her love for Tom was not without its ups and downs (whose marriage isn't?) but unquestionable for him and most certainly for her children.

Mary was "too good to be true." She lived, loved, suffered and died way too early. She is remembered by many of us whose lives she touched.

Janet Wilhelm Richman

08/18/09 07:25 AM #4    

Joe Behm

Suzie, what a wonderful tribute! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know Mary at MC, but what you wrote spoke volumes and truly brought tears to my eyes. Her family and friends would be proud to read about your memories of Mary. Thank you very much for sharing them with us.

And thank you, Janet, for continuing the story of Mary's later life. She was obviously one of a kind, and after reading your memories of Mary, I better understand why many of our classmates speak so passionately of her. She certainly had a good friend in you!

Joe Behm

05/26/10 03:45 PM #5    

Carole Perelli-Minetti (Campagna)

 As our 50th reunion draws near, I can vividly recall the times Mary and I shared science outlines and notes, and passed notes, in our classes at MC and became good friends. She was  an incredible seamstress. Mary would come to my home on weekends and teach me sewing short cuts to dress and coat making. We used to double date in college, when we were both at Holy Names College in Oakland, and I remember a particularly hilarious evening when we attended a stand-up comedy show in San Francisco. Mary got a terrible case of the giggles which infected everyone seated around us and we were almost escorted out. When I had my first child, Mary phoned and wished me the best and added a few humorous suggestions for dealing with motherhood. Mary was such a lovely,giving,  genuine person and I still miss her humor and friendship to this day.

Carole (Perelli-Minetti) Campagna

go to top 
  Post Comment