Marion Mayville worked almost her whole life. She just never worked for anybody else.
She worked for herself on the old Dairy Dart, a soft-ice cream truck she ran in her hometown, Brigantine, in the 1960s and ’70s. Her only child, Marion Lamb, remembers her mom working all afternoon, going home to cook dinner — then heading back out later to sell more ice cream.
Mayville, who died last month at 90, got into that business after her husband, Bill, fixed up an old custard truck for her. That wasn’t the only time Bill’s repair jobs did well by the family.
About the time the Dairy Dart was ending, Bill was working on an old dump truck outside the Mayville home. A guy asked if he wanted to make some money with the truck, hauling sand and gravel for the new Brigantine Bridge.
“‘Sure,’ he said — although he knew nothing about hauling,” Lamb says. “So at 49 years old, he started a new business.”
As many wives do, Marion kept the books for the family business, Mayville Hauling, which ran for 30 years and grew to include a fleet of dump trucks and tractor-trailers, plus a gravel pit in Estell Manor. But Marion also drove backhoes around the pit, and was company president — two things many wives of her day didn’t do.
Her granddaughter, Carolyn Breen, of Wayne, Pa., says that because her “Mom Mom” was just 4-feet-10, she needed to sit on a cushion to drive the backhoe. But Marion always liked driving, and her last car was a sporty, red Toyota Solara.
“She told me, ‘That car hauls a--,’” says Lamb, shaking her head.
Another sporty car was part of the family’s best business deal ever. Bill and Marion had visited Brigantine for years, but didn’t get a house there until 1962.
And they got that house — an old motel office that the historic northeaster that year pushed out into a nearby street — by trading it for a 1961 Austin-Healey 3000 that Bill owned. They bought a lot for $3,000, a long block from the beach, had the house moved there and went full time in Brigantine in 1966.
They said the two-bedroom, one-bath house was temporary. But it stayed Marion’s temporary house for 46 years — Bill died in 2001.
Still, it was big enough to share every summer with their two granddaughters, Breen and her sister, now Beth Jones. Breen, 49, recalls spending a few summers there with both her great-grandfathers — and with a changing cast of “couch people” Marion and Bill welcomed into their home.
The girls always loved the “Mayville Inn,” but the best time was probably the Dairy Dart days. Because any ice cream that didn’t sell, “We would eat it every night,” Breen says.
Marion didn’t believe in waste. And that was one of the perks of working for herself.
A Life Lived appears Tuesday and Saturday.
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