Step inside the past with a new Vintage Daze Short Story, The Grotto. This snippet is written for Tuesday Tales, where a group of authors write to a word or picture prompt each week. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘mirror.’
I’m going in a slightly different direction with this story as Sophie visits her almost 100-year old grandmother and gets her peeks into the past one memory at a time. With Grandma born and raised in West Bend, Iowa, most of the snippets will feature northern Iowa, with many focusing on West Bend’s grand jewel – The Grotto. Enjoy the tale, then go check out the other delightful tales you’ll find at Tuesday Tales.
Sophie tucked her cell phone into her short’s back pocket and eased down into the chair, prepared for a lengthy visit. She had a premonition that she wouldn’t be popping in and popping out this afternoon.
A smile flickered along the edges of Esther’s pale, thin lips. “I remember when they built the prisoner of war camps.”
“Here? In Iowa?” Sophie’s question was tinged with a tone of disbelief. The quizzical expression she wore matched her doubt.
“Oh, yes. There were several of them. Closest one to us was in Algona, just down the road a piece. German POW’s were held there. The camp in Clarinda held Japanese POW’s. But the Germans in the Algona facility are the ones I think of at Christmas time. You ever go see the nativity scene at the Kossuth County Fairgrounds?”
“I did. Years ago. My Girl Scout troop made a trip out there when I was little.”
“And…” Esther watched her granddaughter expectantly, as if waiting for more to follow.
“Well…it was a nativity scene. I think they had it spotlighted with festive lights…I was little, Grams…don’t remember all that much about it.”
Esther swatted at the air between them in an agitated manner. “They probably told you. Seems I got the story about it every year your grandfather and I drove over to see it. Children…probably talking to your friends the whole time and not paying attention to the docent.”
Sophie lowered her eyes and looked abashed. “Possibly…”
“The figures in the nativity scene were made by the German soldiers held in the camp.”
“From way back then?”
Nodding her head in agreement, Esther looked pleased that she’d managed to maintain her granddaughter’s attention. “First year they were held there, a pastor from a local church was snuck into the camp to see what the soldiers were up to. He reported later that they spied the prisoners huddled around a scene they’d crafted from the Iowa soil, singing ‘Silent Night’ in German, and praying to God in their native tongue. Said it brought him to tears.”
A scratchy edge started to taint Esther’s words. She stopped and swallowed a few drinks of water. Sitting the glass back on the small side table, she continued her tale. “The next year the Camp Commander asked the German prisoner who’d created the figures to make a larger Nativity scene for the next Christmas. And they did. Lots of figures – the whole mammoth display that’s still showcased now.”
As Esther spoke, Sophie pulled out her phone and started tapping across the scene. “Whoa! Here it is right here.” She turned the screen towards her grandmother.
Check out the other delightful tales you’ll find at Tuesday Tales.