About the author
Mrs. Clayton, born Violet Mae Steele in Moline, grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, the seventh of ten children born to her Native American mother and her Welsh father. She lived most of her life in towns along the Mississippi River.
The fabric of her life was woven with the threads of social stigmatism and adversity. Multiple marriages, divorces, a limiting eighth-grade education, single parenthood, poverty and racism were leading players in her life’s story.
Nevertheless, throughout her life she used her native intelligence so well that she managed to own a bakery, a restaurant, a waste-disposal service, a stock car racing track, a wrecking service, a scrap yard, a chauffeur service, an insurance adjusting service, and real estate. She did all of this in addition to working in various factories and driving a semi-truck. She was the personification of the American Dream.
Mrs. Clayton was a “liberated woman” long before it was fashionable. She could completely rebuild and repaint her personal Harley Davidson 80, build a house, and speak at City Hall meetings. She grew her own garden vegetables, pickled and canned her own harvest, and raised livestock.
Her customary style was a pair of jeans (with a shirt that had pockets) and bobbed hair, but she could and did present a stunningly attractive figure in a business suit as well. She was plucky, opinionated and unafraid to throw a punch. She might have been dubbed the belle of the “Show-Me” State, but she had no time for pretension. She was a comedienne at heart, and she loved to embrace an unexpected moment of laughter. She was Annie Oakley and Lucille Ball combined--the child her mother hadn’t quite expected and had once tried to give up for adoption before having second thought.
She came to be known as Ultra-Violet because she wasn’t afraid to live. She lived graciously and harmoniously with the attention and controversy her unique personality attracted. Being born into a politically incorrect ethnic group during the Great Depression of the 1930’s was a challenge she wrestled with daily. She could have been anyone or no one. But she chose to be Ultra-Violet.