The Rosary #9

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Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to the prompt ‘corn.’ Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

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Alice opened the book back up to where they’d stopped reading the night before. Soft words tumbled from her lips and the two boys listened attentively while Bobby slept soundly in the cradle by their side.

“Glory me!” exclaimed the girl, clapping her hands in ecstacy; “it must be jus’ elegant to have a Magic Umbrel!”

Cap’n Bill coughed. He had a way of coughing when he was suspicious.

“Magic,” he observed gravely, “was once lyin’ ’round loose in the world. That was in the Dark Ages, I guess, when the magic Arabian Nights was. But the light o’ Civilization has skeered it away long ago, an’ magic’s been a lost art since long afore you an’ I was born, Trot.”

“I know that fairies still live,” said Trot, reflectively. She didn’t like to contradict Cap’n Bill, who knew “ever’thing.”

“So do I,” added Button-Bright. “And I know there’s magic still in the world—or in my umbrella, anyhow.”

“Tell us about it!” begged the girl, excitedly.

“Well,” said the boy, “I found it all out by accident. It rained in Philadelphia for three whole days, and all the umbrellas in our house were carried out by the family, and lost or mislaid, or something, so that when I wanted to go to Uncle Bob’s house, which is at Germantown, there wasn’t an umbrella to be found. My governess wouldn’t let me go without one, and—”1

Heavy steps sounded from the front porch and a hearty voice bellowed, “Hello, my munchkins.”

“It’s Daddy! Harold flew off of his mother’s lap and raced towards the front door with William in close pursuit. The door flew open and their father bent down to embrace the two young boys that dove into his knees and threw their chubby arms around his legs.

A beaming Alice dropped the book on the rocker’s seat and followed in the boy’s wake. “You’re home,” she murmured and snuggled into her husband’s arms for a tight, long overdue hug.

Later that evening, after the evening meal, the boys finally settled down and were tucked into bed. Sleepy Bobby had awoken, been pacified with a bottle, diaper changed, and he was back asleep. William Sr. and Alice finally had a chance to sit and chat with one another in front of the fire.

William’s head nodded and dropped to his chest before he jerked back awake. He shook his head as if trying to clear the cobwebs. “Delicious meal, Alice. So nice to have my wife’s home cooking again. I’ve missed it. And you.”

“Why, thank you. Just a simple meal. I’m sure not like the fancy one’s you’ve been able to partake of. A new recipe…Sautéed corn…wanted to try it to see if I wanted to use it for our Thanksgiving meal.”

“T’was very tasty. I’m sure it will be delicious along with the roasted turkey you do so well. We will be having pecan pie, too?”

A glimmer of humor shone in Alice’s eyes and her lips turned up in a mischievous grin. “Well…you know…”

 

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

 

1 Snippet of Sky Island used with permission from Project Gutenberg

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The Rosary #8

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Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to the prompt ‘knife.’ Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

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The long list of never-ending tasks rolled through Alice’s mind, all the things she should be doing. Then she looked down at Harold’s huge, blue eyes sending a silent plea for his mother to read them a story. She never could resist a set of brilliant azure eyes. It was what first attracted her to the boy’s father.

She took his hand and guided him towards the rocker. Thankfully, the baby was still sleeping soundly in the cradle, despite the commotion with Mrs. Gossett’s visit. No sooner had Alice settled into the rocker and Harold and William climbed into her lap. Excitement shone on their faces at the possibility of special reading time with their mother.

Alice opened the book to their place marked with a hand stitched and tatted bookmark that she’d made herself when William leaned into her chest. He tipped his head up, his blond locks falling back. “Mama? When’s Daddy coming home?”

His question cut through Alice’s heart like a rough, jagged knife tearing through flesh. Her breath caught in her throat and for a brief moment, words couldn’t form. Blinking back unexpected tears, she bent her head and snuggled the four year old into her bosom. “He’ll be home soon, darling. Your Father will be back as soon as he’s able. By Thanksgiving for sure.”

The reading was forgotten for the time being as mother sat and rocked the two oldest boys. The boys that thought they were no longer children. They were now ‘big boys’. Until they were injured – or missed their Father. Alice couldn’t blame them. She missed her husband as much, or even more, than the children did. She understood her husband’s occupation and the need to be away for weeks at a time. It provided well for the family. They weren’t the wealthiest in the community by far. But they had plenty for their essential needs. They weren’t scrambling to survive as some of the other less fortunate families were. She almost felt guilty sometimes for simply wishing to see more of her husband.

She chuckled to herself as another thought crossed her mind. Or, to have more time to read new delightful books like Mrs. Gossett can. Instead of following the small green thread of jealousy, she held the two boys tighter and dropped a kiss on the top of their heads.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

Grandma Jones’ Kitchen

Two weeks ago I visited my dad in northwest Arkansas for a late Father’s Day celebration. My sister was there too and we had the chance to spend a day and drive around the Harrison/Bergman/Myrtle area in search of family history. We wanted to see the train trestle that Papa Goss, our great-grandfather, helped build in the 1930’s. Although we didn’t know enough of the area that we could get close to the Bergman area where Grandma Jones grew up (and Papa had his still in the holler), we still felt close to her as we drove the hills that she was born in a hundred years ago.

IMG_2241[1]We stopped at York Cemetery where great-grandma Goss (Mary Iona Logan Goss) is buried, alongside Grandma’s little brother (Thomas Claude) that died a week before his first birthday, before Grandma Jones was born. According to the family tales, everyone was out working in the fields and one of the uncles was supposed to be watching Thomas Claude. The toddler climbed up on the table and ate some corn that had spoiled and died. We’re so spoiled in today’s time with our electricity, refrigeration, and modern conveniences. I’m glad that we’re not out trying to scratch out a living in the Ozark hills. Oh, some days it feels like we’re still trying to scratch out a living, but I’m doing it from the comfort of my air conditioned house, in front of my computer or in the air conditioned stores that I service in my part-time job – as I go to the refrigerator and grab a cold drink, pull something out of the freezer for dinner, and rummage around in well filled cupboards for snacks and dinner accompaniments. I’m not wealthy and some months fret about paying all the bills, but you know – overall I am so, so blessed!

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With Grandma Jones so much in my thoughts these past few weeks, for my book sale this month, I’m offering Grandma Jones’ Kitchen for $10 – including shipping. (Regularly priced at $11.99)

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There’s family recipes in the book, some old, some newer along with lots of family memories, pictures, and some tidbits like cooking on an old wood stove. Along with a few recipes for making modern day moonshines – in honor of Papa Goss and one of his earliest occupations – before he settled down to working in the vineyards in central California and playing checkers downtown with Charlie Norcross.

Here are two recipes from Grandma Jones’ Kitchen.

Copper Pennies

Many Jones’ family members think of Grandma Jones and her Copper Pennies. She loved this dish and brought it to many potlucks and family gatherings.

2 pounds carrots, sliced and cooked (Grandma used 2 cans of cooked carrots)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced and separated

2 medium green peppers, thinly sliced

1 can tomato soup

2/3 cup sugar

¾ cup vinegar

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

½ cup oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Place vegetables in a bowl. Combine rest of ingredients and pour over vegetables.

Cover and marinate overnight.

This will keep several weeks in the refrigerator.

 

More

Dorothy Stayer Nolt’s mother, Ruth Stayer, made this dish to take to potlucks at the stone church in Glendora. Bea Jones loved this recipe. Uncle Rufus Royer (Amy Stayer’s brother) said it’s called ‘More’, because the more you eat, the more you want.

There are two recipes here. Amy Stayer’s version and the original 1929 recipe.

Amy Stayer’s version:

1 lb. elbow macaroni, cooked

1 lb. hamburger, browned

Chopped onion to taste, browned with the meat

1 can cut corn

1 can peas

1 large can stewed tomatoes

1 can pitted olives

Mix together and cover with grated cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and a little brown.

 

Original 1929 Recipe

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked

1 lb. ground beef, browned with onion

½ lb. pork, diced

1 can corn

1 can tomatoes, or ½ can tomato soup

1 can peas

1 can pimentos (small)

Cover with grated cheese and bake until warm.

The Rosary #7

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Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to a the prompt ‘worn.’ Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

sky island

“Alice?” Mrs. Gossett peered over her spectacles at her hostess. “Have you heard a single word I’ve said?”

Wearily shaking her head, Alice admitted to her shortcoming. “I’m so sorry, dear. My mind simply wandered and I don’t know quite where I went for a moment. What were you saying?”

“Ah, it doesn’t matter.” Mrs. Gossett tsked-tsked, the displeasure showing on her face. “I can understand though. Even though it isn’t very neighborly. But with the young ones about…” She hesitated and frowned in the direction of the children playing quietly in the corner. “…I can see how it happens though. You look plum worn down.”

“Yes…well…”

Without further ado, Mrs. Gossett sat her tea cup on the side table and suddenly stood. “I shall go and leave you to your young ‘uns. Maybe you’ll get a chance to rest when that dilly-dallying husband of yours comes home.”

Alice felt the rage flare up at the base of her neck and rise towards her temples. “He’s not…he’s working…he doesn’t mean to…” she sputtered.

“Now don’t go getting all riled up, dear. I didn’t mean anything askance. It’s only that he’s never seems to be here much, leaving so much on your young shoulders.”

Counting silently to ten, Alice rose also to see her guest to the door. Her chest heaved with the deep breathes she took, trying to remain calm and civil. With neighbors so few and far between, it wouldn’t do to anger one of them, although many steamy words piled up at the base of her throat.

At the door, Mrs. Gossett turned and appeared to try to make amends. “When I finish Anne of the Island, would you like to borrow it?”

Alice grinned, not sure if she were more pleased about the possibility of reading a new story, or happier that her annoying neighbor was leaving. “I’d love to. It’s been so long since I’ve had a new book to read. And I dearly love to read…” She glanced around the room and at her children, well behaved for the moment. “…when I get the chance to, which isn’t often now a days.”

“I’ll bring it by when I finish it. Just take care please, to not let the children ruin it.”

Biting the inside of her cheek, Alice nodded before carefully replying. “That I’d never countenance. The boys know how dear I think books are. Even their own few volumes they treat with care and respect.”

As if understanding what was happening, little Harold grabbed a cloth bound volume from the shelf and dashed up to his mother. “Mother, read us some more of Sky Island, please.”

The Rosary #7

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Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to a picture prompt of our choice. Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

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“I haven’t heard of that one. Related to Anne of Green Gables?”

“Yes, it’s the third book in the series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Just came out. Stephen brought me two brand new books last week. That one and The Song of the Lark. I haven’t started that one yet.”

The green threads of jealousy wrapped around Alice like a tight cord. Not only did her snotty neighbor have time to read, she also had two brand new books. Life just wasn’t fair.

Mrs. Gossett’s continued droning on. “You’d never believe what she said…Can you believe the audacity…When all I really meant…”

Alice nodded here and there at what seemed appropriate moments and muttered interspersed noncommittal ‘Uh-huh’s’ as her mind wandered far from the room that got smaller as her guest’s ego got bigger. If William didn’t make it home this weekend, it may be another three weeks before she’d see him. The oil industry was not a kind or considerate master. She only hoped he’d be home for Thanksgiving. She mentally went through the cupboards and made an inventory of what she had on hand and started a preliminary check list in her head of what she’d need to purchase at the mercantile. She remembered a tin of walnuts she’d seen pushed to the back of the shelf. She hoped they weren’t mealy. Although, with the bumper pecan crop they had earlier in the year, it wouldn’t matter. Pecan pies were definitely on the menu. She’d have to pick up some raisins. She hoped Mr. Stockton had them in stock. She probably had enough cinnamon sticks to get by, but barely. It seemed the spice tin was running low if she recalled. Apples still filled bushel baskets in the cellar. If she could get her hands on a few precious oranges, she’d be one happy mama.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

The Rosary #5

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Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to the prompt ‘soaked.’ Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

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The next day found Alice snapping at the children for all sorts of real and imagined transgressions. She realized that her short disposition was mostly attributed to missing her husband and being the sole parent for so many weeks on end. But knowing the cause of the problem doesn’t always magically solve it. She vowed to be more patient with the three young boys. After all, William was due to arrive home soon. If not in the next few days, then certainly by the end of the week.

A sharp rap on the front door started them all. William ran towards the door at full throttle. “Father!”

“William Serle Blodgett! Stop!” Alice commanded in a loud tone that offered no room for debate. The youngster screeched to a halt as Alice headed towards the door. “It’s not your Father. You know he wouldn’t knock on the door.”

Harold sidled up behind his younger brother, wise enough to stay far back after his brother’s rebuke.

Alice opened the door and a woman swished in, her taffeta skirts rustling around her ankles. She headed towards the stuffed armchair in the corner, the one usually reserved for William Senior – when he had the rare chance to be home.

Alice looked at the woman’s back as she passed and bit her tongue before speaking. “Mrs. Gossett. Why don’t you come in?”

“Thank you, dear. Don’t mind if I do.” Settling herself down on the plump cushion, she primped the tidy bun at the nape of her neck. “Be a dear and bring me a cup of tea, won’t you?”

“Why certainly. I’ll go put the kettle on.” Alice turned quickly towards the kitchen and drew in a sharp breath of air. Best she get out of the room and count to ten before returning to her demanding guest. After placing the kettle on the stove, she pulled out two tea cups and saucers. She glanced at the honey pot on the shelf. It would serve the dragonlady well if she served it black and claimed to be out of sweetener. She knew she couldn’t though. As much as she’d like to, being rude to a guest was something she couldn’t bring herself to do. She chuckled to herself though as she thought of ‘spilling’ the tea on her guest, getting her fine taffeta apparel soaked.

Alice claimed the rocker before attending to polite chitchat. “So, Mrs. Gossett…what brings you out this way this morning?”

“I’ve been reading all morning and I simply couldn’t turn another page without going cross-eyed. I decided to come visit and give myself a break.”

Alice felt the muscles around her jaw tighten. “How lovely…to be able to while away the morning reading. I can’t say as I remember what that felt like…” She stopped before going any further, afraid of what words might spill out of her mouth. “What fine book is claiming all your attention this fine November morning?”

Anne of the Island.”

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

The Rosary #4

Each week in Tuesday Tales, a group of writers write to a word or picture prompt. This week we write to the prompt ‘silly.’ Come stop in while ‘The Rosary’ takes a trip back to Texas in 1915.

Be sure and check out the other story snippets this week in Tuesday Tales.

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Alice was glad for the herbal healing tricks her grandmother had passed along. They came in handy for this rural stretch of Texas that she and William found themselves raising their family. It was 1915 and the Texans in their community thought they were well advanced into this new century. Alice thought differently. Compared to life in the metropolis in West Virginia where they hailed from, this was still a new and rough-edged country life. She realized it would be silly to expect anything more modern. ‘New-fangled frappery’ the elderly neighbor to the east of them called modern innovations.

However, Alice often found herself surprised at how many old time remedies passed down through the generations still worked miracles, even though they weren’t anything modern and new. The comfrey leaf soon staunched the blood and Harold calmed down enough that Alice could examine the wound. She was thankful when she saw that it wasn’t deep and was much smaller than she’d expected it to be. It didn’t take long before Harold grew fidgety sitting on his mother’s lap and wriggled down to go join Harold in play. Alice took advantage of the moment and simply sat in the rocker, watching the two boys play while Bobby slept on in the cradle, oblivious to the prior commotion.

The rocker squeaked slightly on a loose floorboard as Alice kept the chair in a constant, slow motion. With no little ones on her lap, she almost lulled herself to slumber until a metallic bang startled her to instant awareness. Both boys stood mutely at attention, each pointing a finger at the other. “Children, what on earth are you up to now?”

William, still pointing, spoke up first. “He threw a piece of the Erector set.”

“It’s your fault. You’re being a meanie and tried to grab it from me.”

“Because it was my turn to put a piece on. You weren’t sharing.”

“But you….”

Alice clapped her hands together sharply, stopping the argument mid-sentence. “Boys! That’s enough.” She placed her forefingers on each temple and rubbed them in small circles, closing her eyes as she emitted a deep sigh. Inhaling deeply, she opened her eyes and put her sternest mother face firmly in place. “William. Harold. Go pick up your toys and take them to your room. Then I want you two to stay there while I get the bread in the oven and get the potatoes cooking.”

“Mom….” William wailed.

She lowered head and raised her eyes towards her eldest son, squelching his protest before it got started. It worked. The boys glared at one another, but set about picking up the toys and toted them off, mumbling under their breaths to each other as they stomped down the hall.

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