Two Sisters
Toni and Mavis

Toni and Mavis were three years apart and both told of their childhood as being quite happy despite being poor. It was the depression and I guess everyone was poor. Toni, whose birth name was Helen, had a very outgoing personality, and my mother, on the other hand was very quiet. Until they were nearly grown, Toni held her hand in everything and even spoke for her. To say they were close is an understatement. My mom often talked about how despondent she was when Toni got married and moved out. Although Toni doted on her little sister, she loved teasing her, always knowing just how to get at her.

My mom told me about the time she was a little girl and she picked a black speck out of her belly button. It was probably dirt, but Toni and Nancy (a cousin) told her she was going to die because she picked it out and she believed them. There was also the time when she had a loose tooth. There was this old lady who was a grandma to Eileen Ison, a little girl they played with. All the kids said she was a witch. My mom had played with Eileen one day and came home to discover a loose tooth. Must have been her first loose tooth because she didn't know what to think. Toni told her that the 'witch' made her tooth loose; and of course, she believed her. She believed anything Toni told her.

I guess Toni would have been about eight or nine years old and my mother about five or six when they lived in Kings Addition. My grandpa, Surry, worked at the steel mill in New Boston, Ohio and would bring them a sack of penny candy every day without fail. He walked to and from work through the bottoms and across the railroad bridge that crossed the Ohio River to New Boston. They would meet him running every day to get their candy. He'd make them divide it evenly and they would put it in their pockets. My mom had a sweet tooth and hers wouldn't last long. I can just picture them on the front porch of that old house (it's still there) dividing out that candy. Toni would say 'let's eat a red one, let's eat a green one' and so on until all the candy was gone. All the time, she was slipping hers back in her pocket and my mom's candy would be gone and Toni would still have a pocket full. Wonder how many times she got her with that one?

My mom told me about the last time her dad came through that field, but this time he didn't have any candy. She was six years old and Surry had taken a severe beating from a drunken man over a bicycle for the boys. I assume this was probably the next day; he had gone to work, but came home early. They met him outside and asked about the candy, but his only reply was "not today." My mom remembers him talking out of his head and at some point he was taken to the hospital in Portsmouth and died. I know this event in my mom's life left an everlasting hurt in her heart and some sort of fear I don't think she ever got over.

My mother passed away in 2004 from colon cancer and is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in South Shore, KY. Toni never quite got over losing her sister and succumbed to health problems herself. She had begun treatment for lung cancer, but passed away in March 2005 from peripheral artery disease, less than a year after my mother. She too is buried at Mt. Zion. Where else, but beside her sister.

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