Posted by: Debra LaValley | June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011

Uncle Leo and Aunt Cookie 2002

Today, Aunt Cookie (aka Aunt Aurora) passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was quite the character. I remember staying overnight with them when I was younger. I stayed up late and watched some movie where there were giant bees and the main characters riding large ostrich like birds. A strange thing to remember, but I remember that I had a great time. Uncle Leo and Aunt Cookie loved the beach, and I remember many a family outing at the beach. Highland Lake, now private, was also a favorite spot for us to go to together when I was growing up. I have many memories of both Uncle Leo and Aunt Cookie. I remember being told that she was called Cookie by Nana (Alba, her sister) because she loved cookies. I don’t remember who told me this. Her real name was Aurora. She was born July 6, 1917 in Mount Airy, North Carolina (Andy Griffiths’ hometown). Aunt Cookie love getting together with family. She made the best chocolate cake (Aunt Cookie’s Secret Chocolate Cake that Aunt MaryJane “snuck” the recipe and shared to all of us 🙂 and a great lemon meringue pie – my favorite dessert. She always was offering to make me one. I remember being told that she could pull a tablecloth out from under a set table – I never witnessed it. She may have juggled too.

She never liked her photo taken and would often hide from the camera. I took this photo at the 2002 Mastrioanni Family Reunion. It is my favorite photo of her and Uncle Leo. I am glad that I was able to visit her twice in the past couple weeks. They were nice visits. At one of the visits she told me that she would be seeing her mamma and papa and “Her Leo.” Her son Paul was with her for the past couple weeks. She was 93 years old. She lived a full life. We will all miss her – but are blessed that we knew her and shared time with her. Rest in Peace, Aunt Cookie!

Aunt Cookie’s Secret Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1 t. salt
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
2 t. soda
2 eggs
1 cup Wesson oil
2 t. vanilla
1 cup milk
2 T. vinegar to sour milk
1 cup hot water

Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

This cake is great = even without frosting!


  1. Debbie…I am saddened to hear about the loss of Aunt Cookie. She was a pistol. Such a sense of humor. I remember going to one of your Halloween parties at your mom and dad’s house. I was dressed as a lady of the night and Uncle Leo came up to me and asked me how much I cost. I said well, for such a party fifty cents. Aunt Cookie laughed and gave me 2 quarters. She lived a life filled with love, family and laughter. Rest in peace, Aunt Cookie. You left great memories behind.

    • Thanks, Michelle! I love your memory of them…it was soooo them!

  2. Debbie – what a great tribute to Aunt Cookie…and I am looking forward to making the cake in her honour.

    • Thanks Linda. BTW – the cake can be in a bundt or 13 x 9. My mom usually does it in a13 x 9 pan.

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