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The Detroit of the 1940s – complete with penny candy and Saturdays at the movies – was the environment in which Sister Arlene Seckel had her formative years.
Arlene Rose Seckel was born on August 17, 1937, in Detroit to Robert and Ruth (LaBell) Seckel. She was the couple’s first child, followed by Judy, Melvin, Patricia, Arthur, Kathleen and Donald. Donald came into the family in 1956 after Sister Arlene had entered the convent.
The Seckels lived in a series of rental homes during Sister Arlene’s childhood, and their frequent moves meant she attended multiple elementary schools. When the family moved into a subsidized housing unit on Detroit’s east side, in Holy Name Parish, Arlene became the babysitter for a whole cadre of younger children in the neighborhood, and on Saturdays she would walk all fourteen of the kids to the Nortown Theatre to take in the serials. A local grocery store was a regular stop along the way so everyone could buy their ten cents’ worth of penny candy. Sister Arlene wrote in her life story that she thought she inherited her love of movies from her mother, who even named her oldest after Arlene Dahl the actress.
Read more about Sister Arlene (pdf)
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