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Things aren’t quite the same in East Elizabeth

Elizabeth Brown of Elizabeth, also known as Betty Brown, and as she liked to call herself, Mrs. Wayne Brown, was well known for her abilities in the kitchen. She loved to cook, mostly to bake, and her pies were award winning and delicious.
She was also “in the know” about Democrat politics, the Elizabeth townsfolk and its history, and wrote a column, East Elizabeth, for this newspaper for 38 years (from 1963 until June 6, 2001).
She died on Feb. 13, and the material wealth that made up her life and that of her late husband, Wayne Brown, a former commissioner, were sold at auction Saturday, Aug. 10.
“Her life is being laid out in front of everybody,” said her great-niece by marriage, Amy Watson of Elizabeth, while helping to set up early Saturday morning for auctioneer Paul Beckort. “It’s kind of sad to see her entire life on a couple of wagons and card tables.”
Actually, there were numerous wagon beds filled with an array of dishes and other household goods, books, collectables and all those things that draw people to estate auctions.
Sad, true, but the auction will, perhaps, allow the Browns’ legacy to live on with the folks who bought a little piece of their lives.
Amy’s goal was to win the bid for the large cardboard box of cookbooks and handwritten recipes that her Aunt Betty left behind.
“Aunt Betty was an excellent cook. She made great pies; she was known for her pies,” Amy said. “It’s something for me to remember her by, and attempt to make pies like Aunt Betty.”
I’m not such a baker, but I do make some fairly awesome stuffed mushrooms and pretty good shish kebobs, and I have a large collection of cookbooks that I hope someone will want.
Amy said preparing for the auction was difficult for the family, especially Brown’s son and his wife, Jerry and Eleanor of Seymour, with whom Betty stayed during the last months of her life (she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease).
“It was hard to let go,” said Jerry, who was born next door to the present home and reared in Elizabeth.
Among the hardest were the Christmas decorations and such, he said.
“When it was Christmas, her house was just full,” Jerry said. “She really liked Christmas.”
“We really don’t have any place to put it all,” he said, referring to himself and his brother, Stanley, of Seymour. “But once everything is gone, we can’t get it back,” he added.
The family kept some favorite mementos, of course, and among those were some of the lists Betty kept, which included the names of each child who visited on Halloween Eve, for a trick or a treat. She would report those visitors in her weekly column, until the number of children grew so large and space limitations made it impossible to include. Obviously children were an enjoyable part of her life, as with many of us.
The column was an important part of Betty’s life also. “If she could, she would have kept doing it until the last minute,” Jerry said. “She enjoyed everything that she did.”
It was nostalgia that drew Jenene Smith of Borden to stop at the auction, while her husband, Wally, worked on the Koetter construction project at the South Central campus southwest of town that day.
“I started getting into it when my parents passed away,” she said. “I got interested in old stuff.”
(Her father died in October last year at the age of 99; her mother in 1996 at the age of 93.)
Jenene and others certainly had a large choice of items. At times, two bidding “rings” were underway, and there were 184 registered bidders so bidding was keen, Beckort said.
The biggest hits were “Hop-Along Cassidy sweaters,” and other collectable items from the 1940s and ’50s. The house also sold, and it really doesn’t matter who bought it or how much they paid.
The important part is that, hopefully, the house will again be filled with life. And perhaps stuffed wall to wall with Christmas cheer.