Wardenur was a pianist, and played an organ for WOR radio station in Jersey City. In Jersey somewhere. Honey, she was — girl, she could play the piano. And she played this organ, you know, they would have plays and have organ music, and she did that for them. She could play. And when I was up there one time, I went with her to take her piano lessons, and the lady said, ah, “What – you do play the piano or organ?” I said, “No, ma’am, I don’t….” Look like she looked at me like she thought I was about the worst she had ever seen. [Laughs.] And her father made her take piano lessons. And the teacher graded her, and if she got anything below a B, her father would punish her severely. But, honey, she could play a piano and organ. She was good.
But she took TB and died.
She was lovely — Wardenur. She was about 15 here, palling about with my grandmother, her older cousin, vying for the attention of the college boys mooning about them that summer in Bayonne.
New York Age, 21 June 1930.
Wardenur graduated from the Lee Music School a couple of summers later and in February 1931 finished Bayonne High School. A few years after that, her elopement was reported in the Age.
Happy times did not last long. Wardenur contracted tuberculosis, the disease that had killed her aunt Elethea and beloved cousin Jay, and spent her last months in a sanatorium. A short notice appeared in the 20 September 1941 issue of the Bayonne Times:
JONES – Mildred (nee Houser), of 421 Avenue C, on September 18, 1941, devoted wife of Willard Jones and beloved daughter of Irving and Emma Houser and sister of Henry and Irving Houser Jr. Reposing at Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion Church from 9 p.m. Sunday until funeral services at 2 p.m. Monday, September 22. “Murray’s Service.”
She was 28.
P.S. The taskmaster piano teacher was probably the inimitable Miss L.A. Lee of 100 Kearney Avenue, Jersey City, who, according to the Age, opened her well-regarded music school in 1907.
Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. Photographs in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.