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HENRY CRAIG ARNOLD
Your Uncle Henry being still alive when this is written and, being a mild hypochondriac, likely to outlive me, perhaps I should put on the soft pedal and not be too frank in discussing him. However, too great caution on my part is superfluous, I am afraid. We all, somewhat unconsciously, have little peculiarities which are amusing to those around us and in regard to which we are, more or less oblivious, either through ignorance or lack of full appreciation. Yet I am pretty well satisfied that, while I will no doubt say a good many things about him that may sound a little sarcastic and catty (if that is not a too feminine term to fit the case), he is going to emerge from the narrative as a pretty decent sort of an individual, in regard to whom you will have little occasion to feel ashamed and much to be proud of.
Henry was born February 2, 1877; this puts him in General Grant's administration as President of the United States and, to you and most certainly to your children, will seem very far away. As a matter of fact, he ante-dates me by less than two years (twenty-one months to be precise), so I can't poke fun at him on that score. He was named after either Henry C. Arnold, nephew and partner of my father, or Henry H. Arnold, my father's brother - probably a little of both. The similarity of his initials always made me think, when we were kids, that he was named after the nephew. As related elsewhere, he got his middle name from our maternal grandmother and thus escaped being a sort of reincarnation of old Henry Clay, as about ninety percent of the Henry C.'s in the world seemed to be, when I was a boy.
As a baby, Henry was notorious for being able to take care of himself and get along without attention - much like Stuart's Janet, when she was little. All his childhood pictures show him with the most sullen look on his face that one could imagine; he really wasn't as much of a crab as the old pictures made him look. I always have thought that one reason why he looked so mad was because they made him wear long curls - half way down his back - even after he was old enough to wear pants. He was a sort of negroid, or at least swarthy, Little Lord Fauntleroy, although he antedated Mrs. Burnett's book by a number of years and, therefore, was not one of her victims.
In his boyhood, Henry was a quiet, sort of dignified kid, the very antitheses of my own manner. I was a bubbling, loud-mouthed little runt, while he was steady and not particularly excitable, although he had a violent temper when he was aroused, which wasn't exactly a rarity. We got along about as well as brothers usually do - that is to say, practically not at all. He was older than I and larger for his age; he could and did lick the pea-water out of me more or less habitually. It grew kind of monotonous, as years went by, and I found it more agreeable in the long run to let him bull-doze me rather than to combat him - I practically always, except by rare accident, got licked.
While we were in Indiana, Henry was a year ahead of me in school, but when we came to Chattanooga, they put us in the same grade. I always felt sorry for Henry on that account (you can of course see my lovable, sympathetic disposition creeping into the picture here), it seemed such an unnecessarily humiliating thing to do to him. To tell the truth, I never heard him complain about it; I guess he just didn't give a damn. When we separated, he going to a private school, while I went to the public school, he gradually drew ahead of me and was able to go to college one year before I did. I remember that, at the time, I felt that that was nothing more than simple justice, of belated arrival. He went to P.M.C. a year ahead of me and we were there together for my first year. I don't know how much of my phenomenal (?) success as a college student was due to the steadying influence of Henry during my first year but I am prepared to give him credit for much of it. He was there only two years, while I finished the whole four.
At P.M.C., Henry made quite a reputation as a foot-ball and base-ball player. While he was somewhat larger than I, he was, as athletes go, a small man. Had he not been quite so small as he was, I am satisfied that he could have made the big league as an infielder and I am far from fully convinced that he could not have done it anyhow, if he had ever made a real effort to do so.
Immediately after Henry left P.M.C., he went to work for Loomis & Hart Mfg. Co. That was in the summer of 1896 and there he has remained ever since, throughout the various changes in management, corporate ownership, etc. As a matter of fact, he has never drawn a dollar of salary or wages from any other firm, in all his life. The only jobs he ever had, when he was a kid, were in the plant.10 He started in, in 1896, as a sort of order-book clerk, worked up in a short time to keeping the books and, right on the same job all of the time, developed himself into one of the best informed comptrollers with whom I have ever come in contact - and I have seen a few.
Shortly after he started to work, Henry met a girl by the name of Orphia Snodgrass, the daughter of a pretty well to do competitor of Loomis & Hart in the lumber business, who ran a mill up the river at the northern edge of the city. Old Man Snodgrass (as everyone called him) had two sons and a whole house full of daughters. Henry and Orphia were sort of kid sweethearts for years but hadn't attracted much attention. Finally the old mad died and one of Loomis's boys came into the office and said to Henry: "Henry, I am afraid you are over looking an opportunity; Old Man Sondgrass left a hell of a lot of money and has a lot of good looking daughters; you better get busy and pick out one of them." Henry replied: "That sounds to me like a pretty good idea. Maybe I will do something about it." Late in 1901, only a matter of months after that conversation, Henry and Orphia were married and, I am inclined to think, young Loomis thought he had originated the idea.
Orphia was far and away the best one of the Snodgrass girls, according to my notion, and made Henry a fine wife. She was one of the best hearted women I ever knew and took such good care of Henry, all through the twenty-three years of their married life that, when she died suddenly in the fall of 1924, he was left temporarily helpless. They never had any children - afraid of the experiment, I always thought.
Some time after Orphia's death, the two widowers were living there together in the Chattanooga home, Father passed out a characteristic bit of advice, saying: "Henry, you are too young to live out the rest of your life as a widower; you ought to get married again. Now don't go and pick out any broken down old widow; select a healthy young woman and raise a family." Henry agreed, in almost the same words he had used years before, when marrying one of the Snodgrass girls was suggested, and in a short time married his secretary. You all know Clarice, so I don't have to expand on her, and Betty is the family they were to raise.
I am not going to take time out to analyze either Clarice or Betty for you. I expect to see them many times again and to have a damned good time when I do. If you want their characters picked to pieces, you will have to do it yourselves, I like them too well to attempt it now. Wait until they do something I don't like, if they ever do and I will read their titles clear to mansions in the sky.
Henry was always thrifty. The Scotch blood came strong with him. Even when we were kids together, I could always make more money than he could but I never had as much as he. Father touched off the three of us one day, when he was quite old, by saying: "The boys have always been just like they were when they were children. If I ever gave Bob anything, he would squander it; if I gave anything to Henry, he would save it; and Jim, well Jim just blows it on his family." As a result of this steady thrift, Henry managed to build himself a modest little fortune. From the present outlook, it doesn't seem as though Clarice and Betty would ever have to worry over finances, when Henry sees fit to depart permanently.
I haven't told many anecdotes about Henry. This isn't his biography anyhow. I have forgotten and forgiven him for all the lickings he used to give me and we get along fairly well together, although I am suspicious, at times, that he does not fully approve of me. Why should he? No one else ever has.
I almost forgot to tell you how Henry got sick. This is very important, since he has never recovered. He had always been an active, athletic type of boy and when, at the age of nineteen, he started to work at a sitting-down job in an office, he had no one competent and interested enough to give him advice. If he had married your mother, in place of me, she would have made a prize-fighter out of him. He never did eat right. It was years and years before the vitamin craze; antedating even the passion for green stuff and vegetables. Between the sudden taking up of a sedentary life and his limited diet, it is somewhat understandable that pretty soon some of his internal mechanism went on strike. "Acute Bright's Disease" was the original malady, followed, after a slow recovery, by every ill that flesh is heir to - that he had ever heard of - except actual sickness. He became such an invalid that he had to give up tennis, when he was about sixty-three. He never played golf, which was perhaps just as well, as he probably would have to abandon that sport by the time he passed eighty and it would have limited his activities terribly. Our old Grandmother used to say that Henry wasn't going to live very long but, I am sure, if she could have foreseen that he was going to become an invalid, she would have revised her opinion and given him a much longer life-expectancy. He is older now (1945) than she, poor lady, ever got to be and is about the best preserved specimen to be approaching sixty-nine, that I ever saw. Nevertheless, I am fearful that, even without accident, he may not live much beyond ninety and I am pretty confident that he will not reach the century mark; beyond that I have no forecast.
10When we were kids, I had a job collecting money for the wood sold and Henry ran the freight elevator in the warehouse. Each received $3.00 per week, until, my superior efficiency and industry earned me a raise to $4.00, with the admonition that I wasn't to tell anyone about it (meaning Henry, I doubt not). When I couldn't keep the secret, Henry chucked his job on the elevator, saying he wasn't going to run that old elevator for $3.00, if Jim gets $4.00. The fact that he was under orders to grease the elevator the next Monday morning - a terribly dirty job - may have influenced his decision, I have always suspected so.
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