Carolyn Burton Thomas


After graduation, I went to work at Illinois Bell in Cairo as a telephone operator. It was a job I really enjoyed, especially since my best bud, Donna Tolbert, worked there also. A year later, I married Will Chandler from Charleston, Mo., and Donna married John Holman, also from Charleston. The two guys were friends also. Unfortunately, my marriage ended five years later, but out of it came my only child, a beautiful daughter named Sherry Lynne. We lived in Grapevine, Texas, until 1970 when Sherry and I moved back to Cairo. I worked at various unfulfilling jobs, until 1972 when I got a job as deputy clerk for Circuit Clerk, Ford Barkett. This was a job I really liked. I spent twelve years and five months working there and left as Chief Deputy in 1985, when Sherry graduated from Cairo High. During this time, I met and married Charles Robert Thomas of Benton, Ky. He was, and still is, a riverboat pilot. He adopted Sherry when she was nine. We moved to East Cape Girardeau, Il., in 1984. A few months later the position of Village Clerk became available due to Pam Roth Smith moving to Carterville, Il. I was appointed to the position and held the office until I moved from East Cape in 2000. It was an elected position and I was subsequently elected to three four- year terms.

In 1988, I obtained a job with the Division of Family Services in Cape Girardeau, Mo. I left that job as Assistant Clerical Supervisor in February, 2002. While most of my peers are now contemplating retirement, I am embarking on a new career. I start school in September, 2002, to become a Medical Transcriptionist. After school, my goal is to be able to work from home.

I guess my most important "job" now is a "Grammy" to Ashlyn Taylor Brown who was born on March 11, 1999. She lives in rural Cape Girardeau with her mom and dad. My daughter, Sherry, now works for Zimmer Broadcasting in Cape as Senior Traffic Manager.

My only claim to fame happened in 1980 when I became a poster child for the home pregnancy test product, EPT. I wrote the company a letter regarding their product and they called and asked if I would do a magazine ad for them. After all the logistics were worked out, my daughter and I ended up flying to the Big Apple. We were truly country bumpkins in the big city. We were treated to a stay on Lexington Avenue in downtown Manhattan and given spending money. After I went to the studio to have my picture made, we were on our own to explore the city. While there, we saw Barbra Streisand in a parking garage and visited Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Sax Fifth Avenue. My picture was in every well- known magazine in the country. I still have copies of T.V. Guide, Cosmo, and Good Housekeeping with pictures of me in them. So I guess I've had my "fifteen minutes of fame".

In 1992, my husband and I divorced and I continued to live in East Cape. Now to make ends meet (and to live in the style to which I had become accustomed), I worked at Division of Family Services during the day, still worked at Village Clerk of East Cape, and took on the task of running the East Cape Mobile Home Park/Campground, and also collecting water bills for the village water district. I had little time for a social life, but enjoyed the challenge of fitting all my jobs in during a 24-hour period.

In 1999, my former husband came back into my life and we re-married in December 2000. We bought a beautiful home on Bean Ridge Road outside of Thebes, where we live with our Persian cat, Chelsey; our Scottish Terrier, Raisin; and our Miniature Schnauzer, Jazmin. Life is good. We have a small travel trailer and go camping as time permits. After not working for a while now, I am ready to get back in the swing of things and start going back out into the real world. I don't want to get too use to being a couch potato...it doesn't pay enough!

When Cairo High was torn down, I managed to salvage three huge chunks of concrete with part of the words Clendenen Building on it. I have moved those heavy pieces of my past six times, but I still have them with me and they are now in a place of honor in my front yard. I feel like they are a part of me and who I am.

In 2001, while celebrating my September 11th birthday, the world as we knew it suddenly changed. It brought back into focus all the things in life that are really important, i.e., God, family, friends. I am so thankful to have the Pilot Light site and to be able to re- connect with acquaintances from my school days. I have made new friendships and re-established old ones. A huge amount of pleasant memories have resurfaced due to some of the "topics" that were discussed on the PL. There has also been some stimulating repartee which Miss Vicki had to monitor. Ha! In closing, I would like to thank Vicki, Ken, and all who had a part in making it easier for us all "to reach out and touch someone". Thank you and God bless.