Sisters, brothers and Jimmy Hoffa

Cindy ArpOur Town Outdoors

The other day after a funny, satisfying conversation with my sister, I thanked Mother for having the two of us. Mother’s been gone since 1994, but I still talk to her, sometimes several times a day.

Mother grew up with an older, protective brother named James. James let mother tag along when he went dancing but one night they came home early when James saw mother dancing with the notorious teamster Jimmy Hoffa. James cut in, told mother who she was dancing with and they left!

Mother loved her brother but longed for a playmate. She claimed that when the time came, she’d have two children close in age so they could play together. Mother got her wish. Sister Judy and I are twenty-three months apart and are each other’s best friend; a situation that gives the both of us love, friendship, support and more than a few giggles. We still play together.

Mena Card (mother of sisters) Addie, Belle and Charlotte

Some of the best sibling stories I know involve my father’s three sisters. In a family of six boys and three girls, Belle, Addie and Charlotte stuck together and remained close their entire lives. One often told family story is the trip Belle and Charlotte took to Atlantic City. They were young and both smoked, but with two aunts who helped found their Soddy Methodist church and a grandfather who gave the land to build the church, they never smoked in public.

As they strolled along the Boardwalk, Charlotte pulled out a cigarette. Belle said,” Charlotte, you better put that away. We might run into somebody from Soddy.” Charlotte replied, “We’re not going to run into anybody from Soddy. That’s over 500 miles away.” Just then two faithful church members walked up and said, “Charlotte and Belle, what are you doing here?” Belle looked at Charlotte and said, “I told you so.”

A more sobering story involves a trip to New York City. At this time Addie was married and worked as a secretary there. It was a bad marriage; no details were given to the younger generation except the sisters said they had to get Addie out of there. I assume it was an abusive situation. Charlotte and Bell took a train to the city, went to Addie’s workplace, stopped at her desk and said, “Come on, Addie. You’re leaving. Let’s go pack.” Addie left with them.

Later she was a secretary for the Justice Department in Washington. There she met and married a man who was president of the National Plumber’s Union. His name was Ed, a delightful Scotsman from Glasgow. Saved by her sisters, Addie found happiness.

My sister and I know we are lucky to be so close. We talk about our problems, give each other advice, laugh a lot and bless our family. Pam Brown (b. 1928), said “A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.” A beautiful, true fact, but as the slightly younger sister, I will also include this quote by Robert Brault: To my big sister, who never found her second Easter egg until I’d found my first.”

Cindy Arp, teacher/librarian, retired from Knox County Schools. She and husband Dan live in Heiskell.


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