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Whittle: Big sister inspirational to little brother

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By DAN WHITTLE

With the loss of big sister Mary June Whittle Cox, recently at age 80, I'm the last living child of farm parents Hubert and Ruby Lee Stockton Whittle.
Although June had been ill a long time, I remain stunned at her passing. We lost older brother, H. Van, to Crohn's and cancer in 1991.Being nine years older, Mary June helped raise little

Being nine years older, Mary June helped raise little brother, after our father died. That resulted in sister losing a lot of her youth, due to increased family responsibilities.After Daddy's death, she and Mama Whittle became like sisters, more than mother and daughter. In fact, they shared clothing since cash was still hard to come by in post-Depression years of the 1940s and 1950s.

After Daddy's death, she and Mama Whittle became like sisters, more than mother and daughter. In fact, they shared clothing since cash was still hard to come by in post-Depression years of the 1940s and 1950s.After toiling endless, torturous hours in the cotton fields that fall,

After toiling endless, torturous hours in the cotton fields that fall, June and Mother ordered a new bright red wool coat from Sears-Roebuck. When it finally arrived at P.O. Box 52, at the tiny Canalou, Mo., Post Office, they giggled like school girls, for that red coat had cost nearly $10 hard-earned cash from picking cotton.As we motored toward home, Mother suggested she'd use the coat to attend important farm business meetings up in Sikeston, Mo., and June could wear it to important school events. The year was 1952, one of the hardest, tundra-like cold winters we experienced on our small Bootheel of Southeast Missouri farm.

As we motored toward home, Mother suggested she'd use the coat to attend important farm business meetings up in Sikeston, Mo., and June could wear it to important school events. The year was 1952, one of the hardest, tundra-like cold winters we experienced on our small Bootheel of Southeast Missouri farm.The next morning when the temp was in the low teens,

The next morning when the temp was in the low teens, June and Mother witnessed two farm neighbors, "Long Tall" Lum and his little short-legged wife, Polly, walking from their sharecropper shanty house the more than 2 miles to Canalou.As farm neighbors, we normally enjoyed watching short Polly frequently jumping and skipping a step or two in order to keep up with her long striding husband. But this day, any humor was lost due to the intense cold.

As farm neighbors, we normally enjoyed watching short Polly frequently jumping and skipping a step or two in order to keep up with her long striding husband. But this day, any humor was lost due to the intense cold."Look Mother, little Polly doesn't have on anything but a short-sleeve shirt," June instructed as they looked out our farm house window to the north.

"Look Mother, little Polly doesn't have on anything but a short-sleeve shirt," June instructed as they looked out our farm house window to the north.
"She must be freezing to death," Mama Whittle added.Without saying a word, Mother and Sister eyeballed each other: That's when June walked to their closet, snatched that bright red new wool coat off the hanger, and literally ran it out to our gravel road, and wrapped that new coat around Little Polly's shivering shoulders.

Without saying a word, Mother and Sister eyeballed each other: That's when June walked to their closet, snatched that bright red new wool coat off the hanger, and literally ran it out to our gravel road, and wrapped that new coat around Little Polly's shivering shoulders.In addition to having to grow up too fast, sister June was also impish. She was the one who taught little dummy Danny the wrong words to the gospel song "Bringing in the Sheaves."

In addition to having to grow up too fast, sister June was also impish. She was the one who taught little dummy Danny the wrong words to the gospel song "Bringing in the Sheaves."Not being a bright child, I stood in front of the entire Canalou Baptist Church congregation one Wednesday night, belting out the words: "Raining in the Sheets, we shall come rejoicing Raining in the Sheets."

Not being a bright child, I stood in front of the entire Canalou Baptist Church congregation one Wednesday night, belting out the words: "Raining in the Sheets, we shall come rejoicing Raining in the Sheets."Maybe the best one she and older brother ever pulled on little brother also involved "religion," when Mother had taught me a new little prayer to say when country preacher man, the Rev. A.C. Sullivant and wife, Alice, came for Sunday dinner.

Maybe the best one she and older brother ever pulled on little brother also involved "religion," when Mother had taught me a new little prayer to say when country preacher man, the Rev. A.C. Sullivant and wife, Alice, came for Sunday dinner.What Mother didn't know was sister and brother had taught Little Danny Whittle a new prayer that morning out behind the church. So when it came time to say the prayer over Mama's fried chicken and gravy, she bragged to Bro. Sullivant Little Danny would say the prayer. That's when I boldly voiced my newly-learned prayer: "Praise the Lord, the Holy Ghost, the Biggest Hog, Gets the Most."

What Mother didn't know was sister and brother had taught Little Danny Whittle a new prayer that morning out behind the church. So when it came time to say the prayer over Mama's fried chicken and gravy, she bragged to Bro. Sullivant Little Danny would say the prayer. That's when I boldly voiced my newly-learned prayer: "Praise the Lord, the Holy Ghost, the Biggest Hog, Gets the Most."No sooner had those words escaped my lips, Mama Whittle's right hand knocked me a winding, completely out of my chair as I scooted across the kitchen floor.

No sooner had those words escaped my lips, Mama Whittle's right hand knocked me a winding, completely out of my chair as I scooted across the kitchen floor.As it turned out, I don't know whether Mother was more embarrassed by my prayer, or the fact she slapped her youngest son up beside the head in front the preacher man. Wowee!!

As it turned out, I don't know whether Mother was more embarrassed by my prayer, or the fact she slapped her youngest son up beside the head in front the preacher man. Wowee!!We were hard-working farm country people. Our "country folks" heritage became apparent one Sunday afternoon, when an older Air Force man came courting sister June. Her new beau kind of bragged he had been to England and Spain. That's when he asked Sister if she'd ever been out of the country. To which, June replied: "Why yeah, we went to see two St. Louis Cardinal's baseball games last summer." Enough said!

We were hard-working farm country people. Our "country folks" heritage became apparent one Sunday afternoon, when an older Air Force man came courting sister June. Her new beau kind of bragged he had been to England and Spain. That's when he asked Sister if she'd ever been out of the country. To which, June replied: "Why yeah, we went to see two St. Louis Cardinal's baseball games last summer." Enough said!

June later married that military veteran, Thomas J. Cox, and helped nurture him in his studies to become a highly-in-demand CPA used by banks and corporations all over the U.S.

Tom perished in a one-vehicle accident several years ago. They are survived by four beautiful children, Leslie, Tommy, Donna Gail and Lori, and me, the little brother.

In looking back on sister June's life, the best living example in the eyes and heart of little brother was the day she wrapped that new bright red store-bought wool coat around the shivering shoulders of little farm neighbor Polly.

Mother or June never wore their new hard-earned coat.


Amen.

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