Glad to know sister

Columnist’s Note: This is part 2 of a two-part column about growing up with a sibling in Warren, Ohio:

Back then (circa 1945-48) in my sister’s Harding High School years, the Niles boys dated the Warren girls and the Warren boys dated the Niles girls. Don’t ask me why.

Wayne, who had played center for the Niles Dragons came onto the scene. He was nice looking but had a short fuse. He started dating Shirlee. He was a brick layer and Shirlee worked at Strouss-Hirshberg’s.

The dating blossomed into an engagement, which became a marriage in October of 1951. In 1952, Shirlee had her first son, Bryan, who was quite a strong-headed little boy. In 1954 came Chad, who was pretty mild-mannered. In 1956, Todd was born. He was always trying to please and even called himself “Toddy Good Boy.”

A subsequent pregnancy had to be terminated. She had hoped for a girl, but the doctors told her that it would have been a boy. Shirlee was quite sad and depressed about that loss.

Wayne got a job at Republic Steel as a fire brick layer in the open hearth furnaces, but later got into a management program. He went to Youngstown College (later, Youngstown State University) in the evenings and earned a degree in education. Shirlee held the fort and was very busy rearing three pretty wild boys. She really had her hands full and the relationship between her and Wayne was quite fiery.

Even though Wayne had that short fuse, he was generally good to me. In my high school and college years, I worked with him as a brick layer’s helper on weekends when he wasn’t at his regular job. I value the advice he gave me when I was contemplating dropping out of college: “Get that sheepskin!”

And so I did, although I had exasperatingly little enthusiasm. I just felt I was on the wrong track. He also helped me with my themes when I was in high school and I think I owe it to him that I can write pretty well.

Bryan became a very successful businessman and has a pretty good marriage. Chad is a do-it-yourself kind of guy who married a very nice Thai girl. Todd became an attorney and was quite successful in Sweden in airliner leasing and selling. He was married twice. He died of esophageal cancer in March of 2015.

Wayne passed away three years ago. Shirlee spent the last five or so years of her life as an invalid.

Although my relationship with my only sibling started off quite roughly, things did mollify over the years.

I can’t imagine the sorrow Shirlee went through when her youngest son died. It must have been a tremendous burden for her. But as she said recently, “I’ll be seeing Todd again very soon.”

Here’s to you, Shirlee! In spite of all, it’s been a good life knowing you. Nobody ever promised us a rose garden. We both have spent all that time living in good old Warren.

Mumford, of Warren, can be reached at columns@ tribtoday.com

COMMENTS