Born: February 1, 1917
Mound City, Pulaski County, IL
Age at Death: 68 Years
Aintee was my mother’s first sister out of four. She moved from Gary, IN to Cleveland, OH where she was employed as Head Nurse at a local hospital. She and my Aunt Dorothy were the only two out of the five girls who didn’t have children. My mother visited her just about every year; and I accompanied her a couple of times. Even though I’m the spitting image of my mother, a few have said I look like Wilhelmina.
Whenever Aintee and her husband, William SMITH (who called her, “Wilhelm” — with a hard “H”), came to Gary, they brought their humongous albino Boxer, “Duke.” That was their “child”; and we all loved him — just had to jump out of the way when he started doing what boxers do — slobberin’. Momma, Daddy, Aintee, and Uncle William played bridge while us kids munched goodies, played board games, and tried to stay out of Duke’s way. Houses were small then; and he almost took up the whole room. He would just lay there and let us step on or over him. Every year, I’d ride with Daddy when he took Momma to the bus station for her trip to Cleveland. One year, we drove her all the way and stayed the night before dropping her off for her two-week visit.
My bond with Aintee grew stronger when my son’s father moved to Cleveland and my son spent a couple of summers there. She made sure to spend time with him and made it her business to get to know his father as well.
My Mother and Aintee were more solemn than their younger sisters. As I advanced through my teen years, our fun conversations continued; but the topics took on a more thoughtful nature; and her tone changed to a more serious one. In retrospect, I can see she was engaging me to think. The five sisters had a very strong bond. But, Wilhelmina’s closest sister was Dorothy. Those two were thick as thieves. I truly believe Aintee died of a broken heart two months after Aunt Dorothy’s unexpected death.
This photo of my mother (Floretta) and Wilhelmina appears to have been taken during their early career years. Aren’t they a lovely pair? Grandmomma had two more like them and three boys, too! We called my other aunts, “Aint Dorothy”, “Aint Ella Mae”, and “Aint Bobbie.” But there was only one, “Aintee.”
She shares her birthday with Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes, Actor Sherman Hemsley, Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Actor Clark Gable, and Comedian Garrett Morris.