us and shirley


Well, here she is with me and my sisters Cher and Jean. My aunt Shirley is 87 years old, and is the last remaining sibling of my father’s family of nine brothers and this one sister. She is a special lady.

She was born in 1927, the same year that Babe Ruth hit his 60 home runs and the same year Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic. She was born in the middle of all those brothers – which made her and her mother the only females in that house in Parkville.

You can bet she was influenced by such a horde of the boys in the house. They played baseball, softball, football . . .well, she was not to be left out, so she developed into a fine athlete in her own right.

Even as a young boy, I was aware of her athletic prowess. She played on women’s softball teams – I have seen pictures of her in uniform. She played golf and did well at it. She was a bowler – I have bowled at her side and watched her form of grace when she stood on the lane.

She was a fan as well. Being a big baseball fan myself, she and I would talk about the Minnesota Twins many times. She understood the game, and it was clear she loved it, which of course endeared her even more to me.

Shirley is a metropolitan lady. Most of her brothers lived in smaller towns, some having never really left their home town of Parkville, Minnesota. Shirley, though, along with her long time friend and equally wonderfully lady Irene “INKY” Engfer, lived down in St. Paul, right there on Hurley Street, just off Robert Street. Shirley worked at the American Can company, Inky worked at the Montgomery Wards building. They lived there with Inky’s mother, who lived to be 102. As I write this tonight, Inky is 94, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she tops her mother’s numbers. These two wonderful ladies, in addition to their active lives, were also great models of family.

By the way, think of that. Shirley at 87, Inky at 94 – they have 181 years between them.

But like I said, Shirley, with Inky at her side, were wonderful family members. If there was a baptism of any new baby in the family, they were there. If there was a confirmation, a wedding, a graduation, they were there. Family reunions always brought the two. The would be seen at Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays –

And they are such joyful ladies – they smile, they laugh, they talk about how important it is to remain active, even at their age. Inky hasn’t been able to be as active as Shirley lately, but Shirley just today told me how she’s out bowling twice a week, averaging about 150.

And that’s not all. They live in a retirement community, where they participate in many of the events there. They ride the chartered buses from that community to plays, to athletic events, to local casinos…and it is not so long ago that they traveled extensively all around the country, seeing so many of the sites that our country has to offer.

I am pleased that Aunt Shirley is there for us – and that Inky is with her, too. They are an inspiration to all.