FINE FOLKS LIVE IN FINE HOMES
The Sizer family from Monett, Missouri, were in and out of our lives until Arley died in 1953. After the Depression, they invested in manufacturing and lumber companies in Missouri and Athens, Tennessee. When Fielding Parker Sizer, Jr. became new owner of the Athens Table Company, he turned to Arley with his years of experience at the factory, even during the dark years of bankruptcy. Mr. Sizer turned the day to day operations over to Arley, and the recovery and rebuilding began.
Mr. Sizer and other family members would drive down to Athens every few months to check on the plant’s progress. Harriett always had them over for a delicious home-cooked meal when they were in town, and Mr. Sizer seemed to enjoy his time chatting around our table. He and his wife Corinne had a son Parker who was about 9 years older than I, and Mr. Sizer had infinite patience with my talkative young self!
Only once did Arley make a reciprocal trip to Missouri. He went by train and sent several postcards from there. In one he said he was “staying in Mr. Sizer’s home and they sure are fine folks and have a very fine home.” This photo was their Christmas card one year—even the name of the house seemed elegant.
This likely was the farthest Arley ever traveled from home, and his return trip was very eventful! Going through Arkansas, the train followed the White River. Record flooding slowed the train so much that it took 8 hours to travel just 40 miles! Often it stood still for hours waiting for the water to recede from the tracks.
As I remember Mr. Sizer, it wasn’t his wealth or fine home that made him “fine folks.” Instead, it was how he saw the true capabilities and character of my father—even though he had very limited formal education and no wealth. He seemed to think we were “fine folks,” too.
After Arley’s stroke in March, 1952, he wrote him a warm letter on company letterhead. “I do hope you will forget the Athens Table Company entirely until you have your health back. Your health and well-being is my first concern, and we will get along the best we can during your absence. This is the best chance to take your accumulated vacation which has been coming to you for a long time,” he wrote. And that consideration continued to the end.