Friday, November 23, 2007



[adapted from The Farm 1991, by Bonnie Simmons]

Memory is a gift from God.
It is amazing that the human brain
has the power to recall things past and gone
and bring them forward to the now.

Bonnie wrote of her adventures
and trips to The Farm on Refugee Road
in the days when it was a center of
the Ice Family as they were then.

We take the Brice Road exit
from the Interstate, and
turn toward the village
of Brice, which still exists.

We turn down Refugee Road,
just past the Electric Company,
and turn in the driveway
under spreading trees.

Mom stops our car in
the driveway, I step out
to take a good look,
drinking in the aroma
of familiar loved things.

Pull off your shoes and
run barefoot through
luxurious green grass!
This is country! - even though
the huge Metropolis
is surrounding us
on all sides.

The barn is straight ahead,
once painted a mustard yellow,
which has faded to
a pale tan.

A row of sheds
stands along one side
of the parking area,
toward the house which is
behind us, to our right.

To the left of the barn
are the remains of an orchard,
what is left of the chicken-house,
where White Leghorns once lived,
and a shed that housed a
family of ducks, bought to eat,
but kept as pets until
they grew old and died.

Behind the barn, what was
once a pasture is now
overgrown with spindly
trees and bushes.

Behind that now a swamp,
since drainage tiles
were damaged
by the Electric Company
in some of their digging.

We walk toward the house
onto the back porch,
go in the screen door
which bangs shut behind us.

We go down a hallway
with peeling linoleum
on the floor. Turn
the door knob and
step into the kitchen.

Grandma looks up.
She is chopping carrots.
She gives us a hug,
then goes back
to chopping again.

She is dressed in a
faded denim jacket
with her boots on.
Two kerosene heaters
provide the heat in
winter, and even though
summer seems to be here,
she still wears the boots.

Grandpa is sitting in
his chair, watching TV
with a book in his hand,
glancing down to read
a few more lines.

Behind the television
a dysfunctional door
leads onto a time-ravaged,
broken front porch.

The living room is dark,
rich in tone.
The door-frames
are original wood,
intricately carved.
In the place of
some doors hang
heavy, musty curtains.

Grandpa puts the coffee on,
placing just one spoonful
in the pot and boiling it
until it looks black enough.

In the downstairs bedroom
Western paperbacks line
three of the walls.
The bed was removed
some time ago.

There still is a cot in
my old room, where
my uncle slept forty years ago.
When the doctor came to
examine Grandpa the
day before he died,
he placed him on the cot
in that room.

I enter the "family room,"
used for special occasions,
always chilly because of
broken, airy windows.
An old stove -
which I have never seen used -
stands tall and black,
a pipe issuing from its top
that leads into the wall
and away to some
unknown someplace.

Sheet-draped chairs
face each other across
the room.
A dusty green couch
stands guard over
fragile games from
my mother's childhood.

An elderly piano, out of tune,
with broken strings and
clunking pedals stands
before a water-stained wall.

Old Mad magazines
and paperback books
line two walls.
The window-glass is
held together with
duct tape.

As my sister picks out tunes
on the old piano, I pick up
a MAD magazine from
September '66, sit down
in a sheet-preserved chair,
and begin to read.

But this is the Farm!
Its character is given
by the people who
have lived here.

It is an oasis of "folk culture"
breathing the years of
four generations or more,
and "in-laws" and "out-laws."
And familiar loved things.

R. D. Ice

The old house still stands after
many years have rolled by.
The patriarch of the Family
once lived there.

Change is part of life,
and change has come to us.
Someone else lives
in the house now,
things are not the same.

The old house has been
refreshed and refurbished
with a new roof,
a new foundation,
restored to its pristine glory,
a country farm,
but no longer ours.

We are the Old Ones,
and the Family
becomes more important to us.
Old times are treasured,
memories cherished,
of days faded and gone.

We look to the future!
New days lie ahead
and our children and
their children and
further generations will
build new memories
as they seize the
opportunities which
come their way.

R. D. Ice

I cannot go back. Period.
The Farm isn't there any more.
Time and change have moved on.

By age six I had lived in four houses
in four towns in two States.
In the summer of 1935
we all moved to the Farm:
Grandmother Rosa,
Grandfather K. C. Ice,
Juanita, my sister (a tiny baby),
and me, Rhoderick D. Ice.

McGarvey Ice, my father
stayed on in Vinton, Ohio,
to teach in the High School
for another two years.

I was so excited to go to school!
First grade at Brice Elementary!
There is a whole world out there
to learn about and to see!

Brice then was a sleepy little
crossroads town of maybe a hundred.
It had grown up around the railroad
which had a station at Brice.

The Methodist Church was
the life of the village.
We visited it (but I don't remember),
then we began attending the
Reynoldsburg Church of Christ,
about four miles away.

We were not farmers! But,
Brice was a farming community.
We lived on a gravel road,
and Columbus was nine miles away.
It could have been in another world.

Farmers thought of themselves as
business men, important people.
When Jim Leasure came to help
on our farm for a few days,
he was a factory worker, and
had a different outlook on life.
Jim attended the Fifth Avenue
Church of Christ in Columbus.

We eventually began attending there
because they had more children.
Grandmother would load us up
in her 1936 Willys sedan, and
we would drive nine miles to
Fifth Avenue on the edge of Columbus.

The Fifth Avenue Church was
rural in flavor, although many
were factory workers, but they
had moved from rural areas
to find work in the City.



I grew up as a preacher's kid. I was around people all the time. Dad always seemed to praise the Lord, although I sometimes wondered what he had to be thankful for. There were weeks when we had $12. to feed all five of us. But we had a roof over our head, always. And we had lots of friends. Sometimes Jim or someone would bring a bag of groceries.

But I was restless. There was a world out there - just waiting for me! I wanted to do things! I did things with some other guys on the cable access channel. I could see myself making it big! Maybe a rock star! Yeah! That's what I want to be. Someone! I talked about it enough. Dad and Mom saw me on cable TV. My voice made me a natural to be an announcer. I was sort of the emmcee of the show we guys put on. "Question authority" was our theme. And yet, I was me, not someone else.

I got up my nerve and went to talk to Dad. He wouldn't understand. Not at his age. But I had to try. I walked into the living room at our house. Dad was there, sitting in his recliner.

"Hello, son," said Dad.

I sat down across from him, and waited.

"I know what you're thinking," Dad said.

"No, Dad. You don't know what I'm thinking. I know that you're thinking how will you ever live it down if I go to the Big City and make a success, become a Star! You want to keep me here at home where you can tell me what to do."

"Well, son, it's not so much what happens to us. We'll get by, as we always have. It's you. You're going to face tough choices. The Big City has many opportunities. But some are good and some are bad. It may not be what you expect to find when you get there."

"Dad. Don't you always preach that 'all things work together for good.'"

"Yes. But that's when you love Him and ask for His guidance for life. And if you 'screw up,' He is always there to help you get it all back together again. He is the Father who loves you."

"Dad, I do love Him. It's just that I can't live your life. I've got to go to the Big City and make a life of my own."

Mom came in from the kitchen. She stood and listened.

"Norton." Dad put his hand on the recliner and slid himself up on the edge. "I'm still worried about you when you meet the raw life of the city. You've been sheltered even though you don't think so. When you meet with wickedness in the flesh, it could petrify you."

"Dad. This is a college town. This is the big University. Everything happens here. What could be different in the Big City?"

"There is a difference. The students come here to learn and prepare for the future. They may make some mistakes, even serious mistakes, but it's nothing to compare with those who scam and destroy. Some will seem to be your friends as long as you have a dollar. But when you are flat broke, they will dump you in the trash can. And there are pimps and sharks and gangbangers."

"Dad! Give me some credit. I have enough sense to take care of myself. I'm not a baby anymore."

"Norton. Remember we love you. You always have a home here. No matter what happens, you can always come back home. When you need help, we are always here for you. May God protect you."

"Dad. You're loading guilt on me again."

"Norton, that's not what I am doing. We want you to know that we really do love you and care about you. But sometimes you should feel guilt. It's a warning, like when you touch something hot and it burns your finger. Everybody has a conscience. When you do something wrong, your conscience makes you feel guilt. It's supposed to be that way."

"I love you!" Norton hugged Dad and Mom. Then he went out the door.

It would be some time before they saw each other again. Dad was moving to Northern Ohio. Norton was moving in with some friends and staying behind. Later he intended to try to get to the Big City.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007



[This is a true story. Nola was Wendi's sister. Nola died soon after this, and Wendi was not many months later.]

Wendi had finally come to the point
that a nursing home was the only answer.
She was very angry and caused all the
trouble she could, even to the point of
calling 911 with cries for help.

For a while she was permitted to camp out
sitting in a chair on the front porch of
Good Samaritan, under a canopy
made of a heavy blanket. And this
seemed to pacify her for a while.

But in time she came to be at peace
with herself and with the staff who
patiently worked to help the residents.

Christmas time was here!
Wendi allowed herself to be cheerful.
Swirls of snowflakes filled the air,
as the Preacher drove up to the
Good Samaritan Nursing Home.

Inside bits of red and blue paper
decorated the walls, and
all the touches of Christmas were
everywhere to be seen.

Nurses and helpers began bringing
the residents into the dining room
for the big Christmas party.

Helen, 104 years old, walked in
with help from an aide,
to sit by herself in a chair.

Wendi was pushing a wheelchair
toward the front and then she sat in it.
"Preacher," she said, "have you come
to take me home? My cats are
lonesome and they need me."

"Wendi, be glad you are in here
where it’s warm. It is too cold
out in the country at your trailer.
Your cats will find warm places."

Another aide came pushing Nola
still lying in her bed.
"Nola," said the Preacher,
"here you are, bed and all.
Merry Christmas."

Nola was bedfast and had been so
for some time. Yet she was alert
and certainly enjoyed the
singing of Christmas carols.
But she could not speak to answer.

Others came, walking as they could,
some with walking frames,
some in wheelchairs. All
trying to enjoy the spirit of
Christmas, the Season of the Year.

Party favors and bits of
good things to eat. This was a time
of celebration, a break in the
cold gray days of winter.

Each one was tenderly taken care of.
The aides and nurses were going from
resident to resident, missing no one.
But too soon it was over.

The Preacher followed Nola
when her bed was returned to her room.
"Nola, isn’t it wonderful that God
sent Jesus into our world
to be our Savior!
We are people of hope!
One day we will rise to
eternal life, singing and praising God,
for ever and ever!"

"Nola, I’ll say a prayer with you."
"Holy Father, reach down and touch
Nola with Your love and mercy,
give her hope and help her look
to the future You have for us.
Forgive her sins and save her.
Bless all the residents here at
Good Samaritan, and bless those
who are taking care of them.
In Jesus’ name, Amen."



Wendi is nearly 90,
changeable like the weather.
Her two sisters and her brother,
are more helpless than she.

Wendi was sitting on the front porch
of the Good Sam Nursing Home,
with her feet propped up in the wheelchair,
a blanket covering her like a tent.

Wendi! What are you
doing out here?
Are you camping on this porch?

Dad blast you, Preacher!
You've got to get me out of here!
Call the ambulance!
Get me to the hospital!
I'm an old woman
and they are killing me here!

I got to get back home!
My cats need me!
My chickenhouse is there all alone,
and I'm here in this god-forsaken place!
Get me outta here!

Wendii, you can't live
by yourself anymore.
They take care of you here.
Patty works here,
and she sees about you.

Dadblast you!
I tell you I can't stay here!
I got a pain in my side and I'm dying!
Call 9-1-1! Call the sheriff!
Call Miriam!
Just get me out of here!

Usually the preacher can
talk to Wendi and settle her down.
But today she was in a foul mood
and filled with anger.
He shook his head and walked away.

It is another day.
Wendi is walking in the parkinglot,
holding to her wheelchair.

Preacher, hello!
How are you today?
It's so good to be out in this sunshine!
You see that woman working in her garden?
She gave me three cucumbers!
See,I wrapped them up in my blanket.
Ain't they beautiful!

She pushed her wheelchair
to the front porch.
She took the cucumbers out,
sniffed their aroma,
and cradled them like a baby.
Then she smiled, and drifted off to sleep.


[Truth really is stranger than fiction. This is a true story.]

An old man and his two daughters, who were in their fifties, were in a car, heading for Ann Arbor. It was late afternoon.

"Melchorrine. Did I just have a birthday?"

"Yes, Daddy. You were 87. We had a big party. Everyone was there. Do you remember?"

He looked puzzled. Then he leaned forward. "Are we going to get home before dark?"

"Daddy, you have tests at the hospital at Ann Arbor tomorrow. We are staying at the hotel tonight. We'll go back home after your tests are run in the morning.

He shook his head and leaned back against the seat. Then he leaned forward again. "Melchorinne, I don't want to do this. You know that."

"Daddy, you must have these tests run. That hospital in Midland wasn't any help at all. They just think you're old. You weren't getting any better. We've got to get you to Ann Arbor. They helped you at Ann Arbor the last time. You've just got to get better and be all right."

"But I don't want to go! Why couldn't I just take an aspirin or some baking soda? Why couldn't I just stay home? I want to stay home!"

Alice Jean spoke. "Daddy, we want you to have the best care. That's why we are doing it. We love you."

"All right. All right, but I'm not doing this just because you say I have to. This is my choice and my decision. I guess I will go to Ann Arbor to their hospital." He leaned back again.

They continued down the highway. They took the exit and threaded their way through the city traffic. Finally they drove into the parking garage under the hotel. Melchorinne and Alice Jean got the suitcases out of the back of the car. Alice Jean took the suitcases, then stood to see if she would be needed to help.

Melchorinne helped Daddy to get out of the car. She helped him walk to the elevator. They rode to the main floor lobby.

Alice Jean checked them in and got the key to the room. "Come on," she said. "It's on the eighth floor."

Melchorinne helped Daddy into the elevator. She braced him against the wall and held his arm. Alice Jean set the suitcases in the corner.

The door opened at the eighth floor. They walked down the hallway and stopped at 814. Alice Jean unlocked the door and they all went in.

"Daddy, sit in this chair," said Alice Jean. "I'll turn on the TV and you can watch the news. We will get things unpacked."

Melchorinne helped him to sit down in the chair. The news was interesting. He sat for a while. He looked intently at the bright pictures that moved across the screen.

Then he looked around and tried to get up. "I've got to go to the bathroom."

Melchorinne helped him stand up and led him into the bathroom and closed the door behind him.

About two minutes passed. He shouted, "I'm ready."

Melchorinne went in, helped him to stand up, and led him back to the chair.

After a while, Alice Jean said, "It's time for bed, Daddy. We'll help you get ready."

The girls helped him out of his clothes and into his faded yellow pajamas. They helped him into bed and covered him up. They turned out most of the lights, but left the one on in the bathroom so they could see to do things.

By then Daddy was asleep. They turned the TV down low and watched it for a while. Finally they turned it off. They had to get ready for bed themselves. It was a peaceful night.

Morning seemed to come quickly. The girls quickly got up, took care of things, and got dressed.

Daddy still lay in bed, soundly asleep, snoring gently. "Mel, let's go down to the lobby and get something for breakfast and bring it back up here. Daddy is sound asleep. We'll be back before he wakes up."

"Let's do it. We'll hurry." But as soon as they shut the door, he suddenly opened his eyes. He lay in bed for a few minutes, then struggled to get up.

Finally he sat up on the side of the bed. "Melchorinne! Alice Jean! Where are you?"

He pulled the covers off on the floor, and finally stood up. He staggered around the room, holding on to things. Finally he went to the door, took hold of the knob, opened the door, looked around, and stepped out into the hallway.

The door locked itself shut behind him. He turned and tried to get the door open again. He pounded on it weakly, but nothing happened. He stood for a while, leaning up against the door, looking around wildly. Finally he started down the hallway.

He would lean against the wall, then move on a little bit, trying each door he came to, hoping to find one unlocked. But no one would answer the door.

He came to the elevators, stopped, leaned against the wall and looked at them. Then he reached out to punch a button.

The elevator door opened. He stepped inside. The elevator began moving downward, then stopped at the fifth floor.

The door opened. A man and a woman stepped inside. He got out.

Turning to the left, he staggered down the hallway, trying doors, looking for one that was unlocked.

He felt exhausted. He leaned against the wall, resting himself, until he could move on. All this was very tiring for him.

"Here, what are you doing?"

Two of the maids who cleaned the rooms were coming down the hallway. They could see he was in his pajamas and had no shoes on.

"Who are you? What are you doing?"

"I'm trying to get back to my room."

"What's your room number? We'll help you find it."

"I don't know the number. I can't remember. The girls brought me up here. They know the number."

"What girls? Who are you here with? You're not alone, are you? Someone must be taking care of you."

"My daughters, Melchorinne and Alice Jean. They brought me down with them to go to the hospital. I think I have something to do at the hospital this morning, some tests or something."

"You say you can't remember what room you are in? Are you lost? What's your name?"

Daddy studied a moment. "I'm Erick, Erick Butcher."

"Erick Butcher?"

"Edith, you go call the desk. See if there is a Butcher registered anywhere."

Edith came back in a few moments. "There is only one Butcher family registered, and they are black. I don't think they are his family."

"Go call them anyway. You never know about these things."

Edith came back. "They said they aren't missing anyone. He doesn't belong to that Butcher family. I called the desk again, and they have no idea who he might be."

"Say, what name is the room registered in? Is your daughter married? What's her last name?"

"Both of my daughters are married. I can't remember the names. Melchorinne's husband is Ronald. I remember that."

"He certainly doesn't have any identification on him, dressed like he is."

"Mary, you're in charge. Make a decision."

"O.K. Let's take him down to the lobby. Let them take care of things. It isn't our problem."

"I'm cold," he said. "I'll bet you are," said Mary. "You don't have anything on but those pajamas. I'll get you a big towel off the cart." She proceeded to do so.

He wrapped it around himself as well as he could. Then Edith and Mary helped him into the elevator and they started down to the main floor.

The door opened into the lobby on the main floor. About seventy people were scattered around the lobby. A few turned to look, and began staring when they saw this strange sight. Daddy just stood in the doorway for a moment. The towel fell to the floor. His hair was tousled; his faded yellow pajamas gaped open; he was barefoot. More eyes turned to look at this strange spectacle.

Then he saw the girls over to the left, at the coffee shop. "Melchorinne!" he shouted. "What are you doing here!"

By now everyone was staring. The girls left the coffee shop counter and ran to him. They took his arms, hurried him across the floor, and got him back into the elevator as quickly as they could.

At the eighth floor they rushed him out of the elevator and hurried him down the hallway to their room.

"Daddy! What were you doing? What were you thinking?"

"I was trying to find the bathroom."

"But there is a bathroom in here. You were in it. Why would you go outside the room?"

"No there's not! There is no bathroom in here. I looked everywhere. I looked under the bed. There isn't any bathroom anywhere in this room. I had to go outside."

"Oh, Daddy! You'll be the death of us yet!"

"Mel, I was never so embarrassed! I wish we were back home! Help me get him ready. We've got to get him to his appointment. Let's get packed and get out of here! I was never so embarrassed! I wish we were back home!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Rhoderick D. Ice

Cass Railroad State Park in West Virginia. A living memorial to how things used to be when lumber was king in these hills.

I stood at the Cass train station waiting for the Shay Locomotive to come down the hill. I was thinking about the times of old and what it would be like back then. In my mind I was there.
Crowds of people had come to this boom town of Cass to work in the lumber industry. You have to go where the work is. I was here to find a good paying job.

"Chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff." The big Shay Locomotive now coming into the station sounds different from most steam trains. The big Shay has three cylinders which chuff away in a smooth rhythm. It came backing into the area in front of the depot, pulling a string of logging cars. Two Shays were hooked to this train. It takes a lot of power to get up to the top of this mountain. The Shays go all the way up to Bald Knob to bring back logging cars loaded with logs.

I walked around the Shay to look it over. It is beautiful, gleaming black, with polished brass fittings sort of a golden color. I could feel the heat from the firebox in its middle and see bright red flames through the cracks. Steam sprayed out here and there.

The fireman was shoveling coal into the firebox of the boiler. Pungent black smoke billowed out of the smokestack. The pump on the side of the boiler chuffed away as it pumped more water into the boiler to keep it full. Suddenly the safety valve sent up a blast of steam. Too much pressure would burst the boiler.

Jim Jenkins, my good friend, came over to me.

"Roger, I got my ax from supply. I'm ready for the big day!"

"Jim! I'm ready too. Imagine, cutting those big trees way up on Bald Knob Mountain! We've sure got our work cut out for us."

"Yeah, but think of payday! All that money at the end of the week! It is a job, and jobs are hard to find in this day."

The Shay's whistle gave a long blast. Men began hurrying to get on the train. We climbed on a logging car and braced ourselves against one of the posts sticking up from the edge of the car. The posts were to keep the logs from rolling off.

The whistle gave a short blast. There was a jerk as the Shay began pushing the cars up the hill. We went past the repair shops, moved a little faster past the water tower, and then up to speed toward the first switch-back.

The train slowed as it came to the switch-back. It gently eased into the long switch-back siding and then stopped. The brakeman jumped off and ran to pull the switch which would direct the train up the mountain on the other set of tracks. The switching rails moved with a "thunk" solidly against the other rails. We were ready to go on up the mountain.

Now the Shay was in front with the logging cars behind. We were on the way to the next switch-back. The switch-backs angle across the side of the mountain and make it possible to get up the steep grade.

"Chuff-chuff-chuff" went the Shay's three cylinders. We came to a steeper section of track and the Shay's drive wheels slipped. "Chuffchuffchuff." The engineer released sand which went down a chute to where the drive wheels met the track. The sand gave enough bite to give traction again, and we continued on up the mountain.

We arrived at the next switch-back and the brakeman jumped off to throw the switch to send the train up the next set of rails. He pulled the lever and the switching-rails moved. This time the Shay would be behind the logging cars again. It was safer that way. The heavy Shay had good brakes, and being at the bottom of the train would help control the heavy load of logs when coming back down the steep mountain.

"Jim! Here we are at the top! Brrr! Isn't it cold up here on Bald Knob Mountain! How the wind blows!"

Jim took a deep breath. "Yeah, so cold and clear and fresh! Makes me feel good to be alive!"

We stood a moment and just looked around. We could see mountains in the distance. They were probably over in Virginia. They seemed a long way off.

The small village of Spruce was up here on the mountain. It was mostly barracks for the workers to live in. There were sheds and barns and all the things we would need to stay up here for weeks at a time.

"OK. You ready? Let's get to work." Max Joist, the Foreman, led us into the forest and showed us where to work today.

Jim and I were to work on the same big tree. It takes a lot of chopping to cut a big tree down. Our axes were so sharp you could shave your whiskers with them. This wood is hard and you must have a sharp ax.

"Here we go!" Jim said. He gripped the ax with both hands, reared back, and swung as hard as he could! "Whomp!" A chip flew out of the tree-trunk. Then as he reared back for another swing, I swung my ax and chopped into the tree. "Thunk!" Another chip flew. We kept chopping away one after another.

Finally, we seemed to have the tree cut almost through. We heard a cracking noise and the tree began to lean over.

Jim yelled "Timber!!!" We ran to be in a safe area.

The tree came down with a crash and a thump that shook the ground, breaking limbs from other trees as it fell.

We began chopping the top out of the tree, then we chopped off the branches to prepare the trunk of the tree for loading on the train. By this time I wasn't cold anymore. The sweat just rolled down my face. We did stop now and then to drink plenty of water from the jug at hand.

The foreman came up to us. Two men followed him dragging a steel cable. They dug under the tree trunk and hooked the end of the cable around it. The foreman blew his whistle and the steam skidder began reeling in the cable, dragging the log - as it was now called - sliding it over the ground to the loading area - skidding it, as the loggers say.

We followed to see things as they happened. When the log was dragged to the logging car, men put props under it and attached more cables so that it could be rolled up onto the car. They guided the log as the cables pulled it up. When the logging car was filled with logs piled one on another, the Shay Locomotive would take it down the mountain to be sawed into boards.

"Clang!-Clang!-Clang!" Someone was pounding a gong. "Food!" the men shouted and we all began running to the cook-shack. We were famished!

Ham, lots of pinto beans, fried potatoes and onions, biscuits and cornbread. Plenty of good coffee, strong enough to float a horseshoe. And lots of pure fresh mountain water. What more could we want! We ate and ate and then ate some more. It takes a lot of energy to work in the woods cutting trees.

Back to work! Lots more trees to cut!

When we couldn't see anymore in the dark, it was time to quit. We were totally exhausted! We walked with the others back to our bunkhouse and fell into bed clothes and all. I was asleep before I hit the bed.

The sound of the steam whistle finally brought me awake. Another day was here. All of us washed as quickly as we could in the icy water. Then we ran to the cook shack.

Pancakes - only they called them flapjacks. They were thicker than the pancakes I knew, and heavier. But they did taste delicious to a hungry man! Molasses and butter to go with them. Biscuits too. They called them cat-heads. And brown gravy which they called poor dew. Lots of good greasy bacon. You do need all these calories when you work in the woods all day. And again that coffee that would take the varnish off a board. After a cup or two of the coffee I began to really wake up and feel alive! All that fresh air and exercise! I could live to be a hundred!

The foreman walked in the door and gave a blast on his whistle. "Get to work! It's a new day! Let's get at it!"

"Boss, you're a real slave driver!" one man said. Another just groaned.

Jim and I sighed, and headed out to cut down one more tree, or several. Will we ever make it to the end of this week? Payday! Won't you come soon!

But dreams end and I was standing by the tracks as the Shay came into the station. I'm glad I don't live in the past. But what memories! I'm ready to get on this train and ride up to the top again!



[This is based upon what memories I have of Vinton and the things I have heard about from different ones. I have changed names and used my imagination to create the details. Yet this is as accurates as I could make it.]

The year was 1934 and the Depression had struck with a vengeance. President Franklin Roosevelt was in the second year of his first term. In this little southeastern Ohio town called, Vinton, people were coming out of their houses and gathering at the High School in preparation for the Annual Fourth of July Bean Dinner.

"Roger! Today is the Bean Dinner! Let's go to the parade!"

"Parade! Parade!" shouted Roger, age 5, bouncing up and down. "Daddy, I want to go! I want to go to the parade! I like the band and the firecrackers! It'll be such fun! Is Mother going?"

"Her stomach is sick again today. She is going to stay home."

"I wish Mother would go. She would like the music and the parade. Is Grandma going?"

"Your Grandpa is doing surgery this morning. She has to stay home and help him."

"I wish Grandmother and Mother both would go. It'll be such fun. I like to have fun! But we'll go together, won't we Daddy!"

Roger and his father, Virgil, began walking down the street and turned toward the High School at the edge of town.

At the High School, Jimmy Freshcorn, the constable, walked around speaking to everyone and keeping order. Some were shooting off firecrackers and rockets and waving sparklers that showered sparks into the air. Others were standing and talking and watching and waiting. Roger Hefflin and his father joined the crowd. Virgil lit a sparkler and gave it to Roger. Roger waved it around and laughed with glee at the sparks shooting out.

In the Park overlooking the town, Ike Hooper, the cook, had been busy since the day before. Beans and some chunks of salt pork simmered and bubbled in a huge iron kettle. A big wooden barrel of soda crackers had been brought in. A huge pot of coffee was beginning to simmer on the fire. Everything had been made ready for the Celebration.

Four WWI veterans had dressed in the Civil War Blue of the Union Soldiers. Everett Wood was the commander. Harry Green carried the American Flag. Mark Keener and Jack Sturm stood holding their rifles. All eight members of the marching band stood holding their instruments, ready to begin the celebration.

"Attention!" shouted Everett. The veterans snapped to attention.

Everett raised his hand in a salute. "Forward, march!"

The band began playing "Stars and Stripes Forever." With Everett leading, the veterans marched up the hill toward the Park, with the band and the crowd of people following. Roger ran ahead to catch up with the band and marched along behind them, trying to keep in step.

At the Park, the veterans stopped in front of the bandstand. The band took their places in the bandstand. The people gathered on either side to give the veterans room for what they were about to do.

The flag-bearer stood at the top of the steps, holding the Flag high.

"Attention!" shouted Everett. "Salute the Flag!"

Everyone raised his eyes to the Flag and saluted. Then each put his hand over his heart. "I pledge allegiance, to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one Nation, [under God,] with liberty and justice for all."

"Present arms!" The two veterans with rifles turned to look out over the town below them and stood at the ready.

"Ready, aim, fire." The two rifles raised and shot in unison, the sound echoing from the hills.

"Ready, aim, fire." A second volley of shots rang out. This was repeated twice more. Then they lowered the rifles, turned and stood at parade rest.

Thomas Bidwell, the mayor, went up the steps to stand on the edge of the bandstand.

"Ladies and gentlemen. Miss Effie Cheltenham will now sing 'The Star Spangled Banner,' assisted by the band. "Let's all sing along with her."

Everyone saluted the Flag and stood at attention, waiting for her to begin.

As the band played, Miss Effie began to sing. "Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light..."

When Miss Effie finished, the mayor spoke again.

"Friends, we honor our great Country, the U. S. of A. And we honor the soldiers who gave themselves and sometimes their lives to make this Nation great. They left home and family and friends to go off to war in defense of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In the Revolution, they fought to set our Nation free from British rule to gain our Independence. In the War Between The States, they fought to preserve our Nation. In WWI our soldiers fought to set the world free. Even now our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is fighting against this terrible Depression that has paralyzed our Nation. He declared a bank holiday, closed the banks and reformed the currency. We stand with him in his efforts. We pray that good times will come again. Let's all give a big cheer for our President!"

Everyone shouted and whistled and stamped their feet!

Then the band struck up "America" and Miss Effie sang again.

"My Country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee we sing..."

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the mayor. "Our Civil War soldiers had to live on dry beans and hardtack crackers. An army marches on its stomach, and it takes lots of food to keep it going. In honor of these soldiers we feast today just as they did: dry beans seasoned with salt meat, cooked in an iron kettle over an open fire. We don't have any hardtack crackers, but we do have these soda crackers. There's plenty of coffee in the big blue coffeepot, and lots of good, fresh water at the pump. As soon as the Reverend Brother Ed Harris says the prayer, you can all help yourselves and eat all you can hold. Thank you for being here today! We appreciate your donations that help make this Dinner possible. And now, Brother Harris."

Brother Ed lifted his hands, and the crowd grew silent.

"Oh holy God, bless this Day of remembrance and these Thy people. May we ever remember the soldiers of the past and all that we owe them. Bless our President and help him to act wisely. May good times come again and this Depression be over. Bless the one who cooked this feast. Bless us as we share in this meal, and as we eat, may we remember the privations of those soldiers who had to live in this way. May we be thankful for the freedom we enjoy and the blessings of life. We ask Thy blessings on us all, through Jesus Christ, Amen."

Each family had brought bowls and spoons. This was before paper plates and plastic spoons. You used it, washed it, and used it again. Recycling was the only way possible.

As the line passed the kettle, Ike Hooper, the cook, ladled beans into the bowls. Etta, his wife, handed out the crackers from the barrel. Eunice Freshcorn filled the coffee cups from the big pot. The people sat down at the tables and began eating.

Roger ran to get in line, with Virgil following.

"Here, Roger, let me help you."

"Daddy, I can do it myself. I'm a big man now."

Roger turned to the cook. "Mr. Ike, here's my bowl. Fill it up for me. I like those dry beans just like the soldiers used to eat."

Virgil picked up a stack of crackers and held out his cup to get coffee. Roger picked up a tin cup of water. They sat at a table and began to eat.

"There's plenty more," shouted the mayor! "Come back for seconds and
thirds and as much as you can hold! It's the Fourth of July Bean Dinner!"

The people ate and then went back for more. The festivities lasted until the bean kettle was empty.

Then the band took their places in the bandstand and began playing a series of stirring marches.
The people sat at the tables and listened with appreciation, some tappiong their feet and waving their hands in time to the music. Roger stood up and tried to emulate the band director.

"Daddy, I like the music and the band. I want to learn to play in the band. Can I have something to play music on?"

"I have a cornet that I play in the circus band during the summer. You can play that. I'll help you to learn."

"I wish I could play in the circus band."

"Maybe you can when you are older."

"I don't want to wait until I am older. I want to do it now."

Finally, toward the end of the afternoon people began leaving. The band gathered up their instruments and started back to town. It had been a most wonderful day! The Fourth of July Bean Dinner!



It was a bright summer day and farmers were in their fields harvesting the wheat.
Roger Hefflin was in the barn yard at his home. He was oiling the chain of the upside down bicycle, and just getting it ready to go for a long ride.

Three bicycle riders came speeding into the driveway and slid to a stop near him, spraying gravel. It was his good friends, John and his brothers, Marshall and Ronald.

"Hey! Roger! Let's go see the threshers! They're over at the Campbell farm today."

"Sure! I want to see that steam engine run! I'll be ready in a minute." Roger wiped his hands and then set the bicycle up on its wheels. He ran into the house.

"Grandmother, we're going over to the Campbell farm to see the threshers. I'll be back by supper time."

"All right, Roger. Have a good time. Be careful around all that machinery. Machinery is very dangerous, you know."

It was two miles to the Campbell farm. This was farming country. The roads were gravel and there was very little traffic. Everyone knew everyone else and people didn't need to lock their doors. The boys were allowed to roam freely with few restrictions. They had already done their chores, and this was Saturday. Time to have some fun.

It was half a mile to Brice, a tiny crossroads settlement. The riders slid to a stop in front of Oscar Ware's General Store to get some hard candy for their trip.

"Who's got money," John asked. They searched their pockets and came up with 25¢. That would buy a lot of candy in those days.

Then they went on up the slight hill toward Campbell's. As they passed Hempy's Grove, a picnic park on the bank of Black Lick Creek, they could see the cars of the city people who came out here for weekend picnics and general good fun. The boys could not imagine paying for things they had all the time.

They went across the Covered Bridge which spanned the Creek, and on the other side was the Campbell farm. They could see Mr. Cherry's big steam tractor and the threshing machine in the field beyond the barn.

Joey Campbell came out of the barn. "Hi guys!" he yelled, and came running over to them.

"Joey!" they all chorused. "We're here to see the threshers!"

"Follow me," Joey said. Joey felt very important as he led the way. They ran out into the field.

The steam tractor was huge, towering above them. It was shiny black, and a smokestack stuck up out of the boiler. The rear wheels were higher than their heads. The boys circled around it, looking at everything and reaching out to touch it. They came around to the rear of the tractor where Mr. Cherry was building the fire in the boiler of his engine. The children stood as close as they thought they dared, and watched with wide eyes.

The fire had started to burn, and he was putting pieces of wood into it, and finally some small lumps of coal.

"Mr. Cherry," Joey said, "we're here to see your steam tractor!"

Mr. Cherry looked up to see them. "Hey, you kids! Keep your distance. I don't want you caught up in the belts or something."

"We'll be careful," Roger said. "We just want to see everything. We want to hear the noise and see your steam engine run. This is exciting to us. We hardly ever get to see such things."

Mr. Cherry got his oil-can and began oiling things around the engine. There were so many places to be oiled. The boys watched with interest and followed Mr. Cherry around the tractor as he worked.

"Mr. Cherry," asked John, "how much steam do you need to move your tractor?"

"I can move it with 25 pounds pressure. But it needs a full head of steam to have any real power, about 100 pounds."

He turned a valve to blow a jet of steam up the smokestack. This made the air whoosh through the firebox to make the fire burn hotter to raise the steam pressure more quickly.

"Mr. Cherry," asked Ronald, "how much horsepower does your engine make?"

"Eighteen horsepower."

"Wow!" chorused the boys. "Eighteen horsepower!" They were thinking of the power of eighteen horses.

It was now time to begin operation. The big thresher had been pulled in position and the men blocked the wheels with bricks so that it couldn't roll or move. The boys turned to watch the wagons which were now coming through the fields toward the threshing machine.

Mr. Cherry blew a blast on the steam whistle, then pulled the throttle handle to let steam into the motor. He needed power to back his tractor into position. He moved it back and forth to get it into just the right position to power the thresher.

Two of the men struggled with the heavy drive belt. It was at least a foot wide and probably an inch think. The men dragged it to the steam engine and lifted it up to hook it around the big drive pulley. Then Mr. Cherry backed the tractor just enough to tighten the belt. He pulled the throttle handle again, and with a chuff-chuff the engine began powering the threshing machine.

On the tractor the piston rod moved in and out and the big flywheel turned. The flywheel turned the pulley mounted to it and this moved the belt. The belt then turned the pulley on the threshing machine and things began to whir and clatter. It was exciting to see the belt moving and slapping as it took the power to the thresher.

"Hey! You boys! Don’t get too close to that drive belt!"

The boys moved back just a little.

Out in the fields the wheat had been cut and tied into bundles by a machine called a Binder. As it was pulled through the wheat, it both cut the stalks and tied them in bundles using heavy string called binder-twine. Men took pitchforks and jabbed them into the wheat to load the sheaves (as the bundles were called) on wagons to bring them in to the threshing machine. Nowadays, of course, a machine called a Combine goes out in the field and cuts and threshes the wheat in one operation.

When the first wagons arrived at the thresher, the men climbed up on the wagons, again using pitchforks. They began throwing the sheaves into the mouth of the feeder machinery of the thresher.

The feeder pulled the sheaves into the machine where rotary knives chopped them up. Things inside beat the wheat stalks. A huge fan blew air through the threshing machine. The air separated the grains of wheat from the straw, and blew the straw out into a pile on the ground. The grains of wheat came out another pipe into a wagon that was waiting beside the thresher. When that wagon became full, another wagon would take its place.

The full wagons were taken to the Mill in Brice. The Mill bought and sold grain; ground grain for the farmers to feed their animals; and sold all sorts of supplies the farmers would need.

"Hey, you boys! Want to ride along to the Mill?"

All five boys came running!

"Here, two of you can ride on the tractor with me. The rest of you get on the wagon."

"Thanks, Paul," they said. "We're ready to go!"

Paul drove the wagon full of wheat down the road to the Mill at Brice. The Mill had huge scales that would hold both tractor and wagon. This made it possible to weigh everything and then calculate the weight of the wheat so Mr. Campbell could be paid for it.

Paul drove on the scales and the boys jumped off and stood out of the way. Mr. Cook, who owned the Mill, came out of his office.

"Good morning, Mr. Cook," Paul said. "Just look at this wheat! Isn't it beautiful!"

"It's a good year," said Mr. Cook. Then he went back into the building to read the weight of the wheat on the scale. After the wagon had emptied the wheat into the bin, Mr. Cook would weigh the tractor and empty wagon again and subtract to find the exact weight of the wheat itself.

"I've got it, Paul. Here's a receipt for the load. I'll settle up with Mr. Campbell when the wheat's all in. Keep it coming!"

The boys jumped into the wagon and Paul headed back to the Campbell farm. He would hitch the tractor to one of the other wagons, to bring another load of wheat to the Mill.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


WENDI Chapter 4
R. D. Ice

Wendi had been staying with Little Nancy and her children, for almost two years now. Wendi still could not stand the children. They yelled and screamed and ran through the house! But what other choice did she have. She could not live by herself anymore, in that converted chicken house. She was in her eighties, and that did make a difference.

The children ran screaming through the house for the umpteenth time. The little three year old boy threw a ball that bounced off her head.

"Dang children!" Wendi shouted. "Can't you do something!"

"Now, Wendi," Little Nancy said softly, "children will be children. I'm trying to keep them quiet."

"I'm going for a walk," Wendi said. As she went down the street she thought about Maude McDaniel. Maude ran that rest-home. Maybe she could get back in with Maude. They hadn't parted on very good terms. But it didn't hurt to try. There surely wouldn't be any children there.

Wendi walked on down the road. She turned as she heard a car. She waved her hand.

"Wendi. Where are you going?"

"Herb, gimme a ride out to Maude McDaniel's. I got to talk to her today."

"Climb in. I'm going near there anyhow."

He dropped Wendi off at the driveway to Maude's house. Wendi walked up through the trees, and pounded on the door.

"Wendi! What are you doing there?"

"Now Maude, I got to find a place to stay and I'm coming back to live with you. Those children are about to drive me batty! I got to get another place to live. So I'm coming to live with you."

"You are not! No way! I won't go through that again. You were mean to Aunt Lea. And everything went into your pockets. I just won't put up with you again!"

"Now, Maude, have pity on an old lady like me."

"You had your chance. I kept you here several months. And I ain't going to do it again! You hear!"

Wendi tried to push on into the house past Maude. But Maude grabbed her and shoved her back."

"You let me in, Maude! You hear! I got to have a place to stay!"

"No you don't! Get out of here, Wendi! I ain't going to let you in! You go on down the road!"

Wendi waved her fist at Maude.

"I'll get you, Maude McDaniel! You just wait! I'll put a spell on you! I'll turn you into a snake or a dog or something!"

She turned and walked away, back to Little Nancy and the children.

The three children ran screaming through the house. Wendi put the pillow over her head and tried to go back to sleep. Finally she just got up.

Wendi came into the kitchen and sat down. Little Nancy was just taking a pan of sourdough biscuits out of the oven. [Sourdough biscuits can be made with flour and water and the sourdough yeast that was kept in a little stone pot. Little Nancy made these when there was no baking powder nor shortening to make regular biscuits. They were tough and hard, but nourishing.]

"Gimme some breakfast!" Wendi said, pounding on the table.

Little Nancy set a biscuit in front of her.

"Is that all you got! Sourdough biscuits again! And we ain't got any butter!"

"I'm sorry. This is the end of the month. We are out of everything. We're lucky to have flour to make sourdough biscuits."

"I suppose you ain't got any coffee either?"

"You can have hot water tea."

Little Nancy set a cup on the table, and filled it with hot water from the teakettle.

"This is the best we can do 'till your Social Security check comes Monday. You're getting what me and the kids eat. Be thankful."

"Hmmp," Wendi said. She broke a piece off the biscuit and dunked it in the hot water to soften it. Then she chewed on it fitfully.

The children came running through, screaming with glee. The little three year old boy grabbed up Wendi's biscuit and ran.

"Dang children!" Wendi said. "Why don't you do something!"

"Children, go out and play. Watch your little brother. Don't let him get in trouble."

The children went out the door and then began banging the porch swing against the house.

Wendi snorted. But she thought to herself, she better be careful. She had to have a place to live. Dang this being old and feeble.

Little Nancy gave Wendi another sourdough biscuit. Wendi finally ate it, then went into the front room and turned on the TV.

"Wendi! Today is Social Security day!"

"Hmmp. It's about time. I gotta have some real food!"

But the mail would not be here for a while. Wendi ate her sourdough biscuit and drank her hot water.

"The mail man is coming!" The children came in shouting and jumping up and down.

They heard him come up on the porch and open the letter box. Reba, the oldest girl, ran out to get the mail. The other children followed.

"It's here!" she shouted, as she came in waving the letter. "We can go to the store! We can get chips and dip and pop!"

"And baking powder and lard!" Little Nancy said. "We can have real biscuits again!"

Even Wendi was excited. "And a bottle of whiskey to put in the coffee!" She got herself up from the chair and hobbled out to the car. They were going to Shop & Save.

They stopped at the Bank Drive-in first so Wendi could cash the check.

When they got home they made pigs of themselves with chips and dip and all the goodies.

"Oh, my stomach!" Little Nancy said. "I surely ate too much! But it's so good to have food again!"

"Take a few spoons-full of that whiskey," Wendi said. "That'll help your stomach. I do it all the time."

Little Nancy got the whiskey and took a big swig. Then she went to lay down on the bed. She hoped her stomach would settle down soon. It pained something fierce.

The children continued eating chips and dip and drinking pop. They also screamed and ran around the house gleefully. But finally they quieted down and went to bed.

After a while they woke up and started again.

The three children came screaming into Wendi's room!

"Wendi!" Reba screamed. "I can't get Mommy to wake up!"

"What're you talking about? Can't you let a body get any sleep!"

"But something's wrong! Mommy just lays there, and she's cold!"

"Cold? What are you talking about, cold?" Wendi struggled up out of bed and hobbled into the other room.

"Oh my Lord!" Little Nancy was cold and stiff. The whiskey bottle lay on the side stand, empty.

"Reba, dial 9-1-1! Get an ambulance out here! Get the Emergency Squad! Tell them to get here quick! And call your Granddad!"

Reba ran to the phone and the others followed.

"It's my mother!" she screamed into the phone. "Get here quick! Something's wrong with my mother!"

Then Reba dialed her grandfather, Emerson Scott.

"Granddad! Something's wrong with Mommy! I called 9-1-1! Please come and see!"

In just a few minutes Emerson Scott arrived.

"In here, Granddad!" Reba said.

Emerson Scott rushed into the bedroom. Little Nancy was lying on the bed.

"Oh, Lord! What has happened?" He went to the bedside and put his hand on Little Nancy's head.

"She's stone cold dead! How can it be!"

The ambulance from the Emergency Squad slid to a stop out front.

Wendi held the door open. Sam Johnson and Sue Wright came into the house.

Wendi led the way into the bedroom.

Emerson Scott stepped back, out of the way. Sam got down beside Little Nancy and began checking her vital signs.

"I don't get anything at all!" he said.

"Do you know what happened?" asked Sue Wright.

"The children came running in and woke me up," Wendi said. "They said their mother was stone cold and they couldn't get her to wake up. I told them to call 9-1-1."

Sam called in on his cell-phone. "I got a woman, in her thirties, no response, body is cold, apparently deceased. From her color it might be her heart."

"Sam, transport to the Hospital. You can't make the diagnosis. The doctor will check. 10-4."

Sue brought in the stretcher. She and Sam put Little Nancy's body on it, then took her to the ambulance. They sped off to the Hospital.

"Granddad, what'll we do now?" Reba asked.

"You all come home with me," Emerson Scott said. "Me and your Grandma will figure it all out. I can't believe Little Nancy is dead! Surely it's all a mistake!"

Nancy Scott just came in the house from the store. [She was Big Nancy.]

"Emerson Scott, what is going on? What is Wendi doing here? Where is Little Nancy?"

"Little Nancy is dead! I can't believe it! But the Emergency Squad people said it is so!"

"Emerson Scott. Are you out of your head? What are you telling me?"

"It's true, Grandma," Said Reba. "We couldn't wake her up and she was so cold!"

"She dialed 9-1-1 and the emergency squad came and took her to the Hospital," Wendi said.

"Emerson Scott! Why are you still here? Get in that car and we'll all go to the Hospital. We've got to find out what is happening!"

Big Nancy led the way into the Hospital. Wendi followed them.


WENDI Chapter 3
R. D. Ice

Wendi had to give up living in her converted chicken house. No heat and no water. This winter had turned out very cold. What was an 80 year old woman to do? She was crippled up with arthritis. With no other choice, she moved in with Maude McDaniel who ran a nursing home out in the country near Butterfield Junction.

But she wasn't happy. "Maude, it's just like being in jail," she said. "I can't go down to Hardee's and get my biscuits and gravy. I can't go downtown and walk up the street. All I can do is set here and look at the walls."

"Wendi, what do you want? It's warm. You know the others. They're all friends of yours. Just be happy."

But she wasn't happy. In her frustration she would move things around and sometimes hide them. She would complain of being cold, and then she was too hot. Nothing seemed to satisfy her.

One day in late January when the weather had warmed up somewhat, she dressed in her warmest clothes. She had a silver-glitter top some cheer leader had given to Heart & Hand. She always wore her long underwear. She had dark knit pants and fur lined silver boots. She put on her red toboggan and wrapped a silver scarf around her neck. She put on her heavy fur coat she had fished out of someone's trash can. Then she sneaked out and walked into Butterfield Junction. She knew a few people there. Surely she could push herself in somewhere.

She walked down a side street and went into a house.

"Wendi! What are you doing in my house?"

"Now Elsie, don't get your dander up. I got to have a place to stay. That Maude run me out. I can't put up with her anymore."

"Wendi, you can't stay here. I'm all alone and I can't put up with you. You got to find someplace else. You just can't stay here."

"Now Elsie, just one night won't hurt. Just put me up for tonight. I'll go out tomorrow and find some place to stay."

Well, you can't stay here. But I suppose one night won't hurt anything. I got an extra bedroom upstairs to the right. But you got to get out of here tomorrow morning!"

Next morning she wandered over to the gas station. She knew the man who owned it. Maybe she could get something out of him.

A young girl was behind the counter. Wendi had never seen her before. "Where's the old goat who runs this station," she asked? "I want him to give me a place to stay. It's cold these nights."

The girl looked her up and down. "Mr. Scott will be back soon. I don't know as how you will get anything from him. His granddaughter, Little Nancy, is in the back. She takes in stray cats and dogs and such like."

"I know her," Wendi said. "I'll go see her."

She went into the storeroom in the back, picking up an item or two along the way which she stuffed into her pockets.

"Wendi! What are you doing out on this cold day?"

"I need me a place to stay. I been out at Maude's, but she run me out. I'm too old to be doing things like that."

"You can stay with me a few days. You can keep the children company. Come along with me now. I'm on my way home."

"Children!" Wendi said to herself. "We'll see about that. But it is cold."

So Wendi was soon in the little house on the hill.

The ambulance from the Emergency Squad slid to a stop in front of Little Nancy's house.

"She's in here!"

Little Nancy was holding the door open.

They rushed in to find Wendi lying on the floor. Sam Johnson got down beside her and began checking her vital signs.

Wendi moaned and tried move.

"Do you know what happened?" asked Sue Wright.

"I don't know just what happened," said Little Nancy. "She came staggering out of the bathroom and fell on the floor. She was so sick! She vomited all over. Do you think she might have had a stroke?"

"Oh my head!" Wendi moaned again and made an effort to sit up, but she could not. She rolled over on her back and spread her arms out. Her face showed the distress she felt.

She continued to moan. She moved her arms and legs a litle, but was too weak to do much more.

"Oh my head, my head" she mumbled.

San Johnson continued to work with her.

She opened her eyes and looked at him.

"There ain't nothin' wrong with me, Sam Johnson. You get away from me. I'm feeling better. I'll get up from here just as soon as I can."

"We better take her to the clinic," said Sue. "You don't know what might be wrong with an old woman like her. We better play it safe."

"Old woman!" snorted Wendi. She tried again to sit up, then fell back, only semiconscious.

They lifted her on the stretcher and loaded her into the ambulance. Then they rushed off to the clinic. Little Nancy followed along in her car.

"What have we got here?" Dr. Hefflin felt Windi's forehead, then took her pulse. "Wendi, what have you gone and done to yourself this time. Have you been drinking that liniment you make up?"

"Doc Hefflin, you old goat. There ain't nothing wrong with me. I don't know why they brung me here. I wisht I was back home in my chicken house out in the country."

Little Nancy spoke up. "Doctor Hefflin, Wendi went in the bathroom to take one of those pills you gave her. After a while she came staggering out and fell down on the floor. I was scared she had a stroke or something. I called the emergency squad right away."

"Is that right, Wendi? A nitro pill? For your heart."

"Yeah, you old goat. I took one of those nitro pills all right. My throat was feeling scratchy so I swallowed the pill and washed it down with some of that cough syrup you give me."

"What! You could have killed yourself! Don't you know better than that!"

Wendi closed her eyes. All this talking had worn her out.

Dr. Hefflin just shook his head. "Nancy, you did the right thing by bringing her in. I'll give her a shot to help her get over this. Then you can bring her back in a few days, say Monday. And see that she puts that nitro pill under her tongue like she is supposed to."

Little Nancy took Wendi home. Things seemed to go well. But Wendi was very weak. She had to be helped to the bathroom, and spent most of the time in bed.

On Monday Rev. Brother Ed Harris, the Methodist preacher, was in the clinic when Little Nancy brought Wendi in.

Wendi looked up to see him. "Brother Ed! What are you doing here!"

"Wendi! I'm just here for a checkup. What are you doing here?"

"That dang Little Nancy brought me in. I ain't sick. I just need some yellow root and cream of tartar. That would fix me up fine."

Little Nancy spoke up. "She had a spell. We called the Emergency Squad and brought her in. We were afraid she had a stroke. Dr. Hefflin told us to bring her back today."

"That old goat!" Wendi said. "It's those pills he give me. I ain't a-taking no more of his medicine."

"Now Wendi," Nancy said, "you know you need those nitro pills. You've got to keep your heart working right. But you can't do things like you did and get away with it."

The nurse came to the doorway. "Wendi, the Doctor will see you now."

Nancy started to get up to help Wendi.

But Wendi got up stiffly and hobbled into the exam room.

While she was gone, Little Nancy talked.

"Brother Ed, we were sure worried about her. She took a nitro pill with some of that prescription cough syrup and it made her deathly ill. We called the Emergency Squad. It made her so mad and she still hasn't forgiven us. But we had to do what was best."

Brother Ed just shook his head. "I've known Wendi for some years. She can be stubborn. And you never know just what she will do. I'm glad you tried to help her."

"We love her like family. She gets along with the kids and they love her too. But she surely does have some strange ways."

Wendi came out of the doorway followed by Dr. Hefflin.

"Nancy, you've done a good job. You surely have taken good care of Wendi. But now she needs something more. It isn't fair to your children and family. So I'm recommending that you put Wendi in Maude McDaniel's nursing home for a while. She can do what needs to be done. Maude can see about her medicine and she knows what to look out for."

"I ain't a-going to do it! I know that Maude McDaniel. Knowed her for years. I stayed with her a while. But I ain't no old woman to be put in such a place! I ain't going back there!"

"Now Wendi, it won't be for long. Just till you get to feeling better. Then you can go back with Little Nancy. But you got to get in better shape. It isn't fair to Nancy's kids and family. And it isn't fair to you. You got to take care of yourself."

Wendi snorted and looked angry. But eventually she gave up. She knew it would be better for her. At her age she had run out of choices.

"Nurse Pratt," said Dr. Hefflin, "go call Maude and get it all set up. Little Nancy can take Wendi on over now."

"And Wendi, those nitro pills go under your tongue! You hear me! And don't take that cough syrup at the same time!"

"Yes you old goat. I hear you. You better be glad I don't put a spell on you."

Dr. Hefflin smiled and shook his head.

Thursday, November 1, 2007



Jimmie Freshcorn ran up the stairs and burst into the room!

"Wendi! What are you doing here! This isn't your house!"

Wendi was in the bed with her clothes on. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.

"You! Jimmy Freshcorn! Don't you give my any hard time. The snow's a-coming and I had to come here to town. I got to take care of myself, you know. It's cold out there in the country."

"But you can't just go into somebody's house and move in. Wilda called me. You got to get out of her house. I ought to lock you up in jail. But I'll just run you on home in the police car. Get out of that bed and come with me!"

"Dang you Jimmie Freshcorn! I ain't a gonna do it! I aim to stay right here until Spring comes."

Jimmy reached over and grabbed her by the arm. "You're coming with me Wendi and don't give me no lip." He half dragged her down the stairs. He opened the door of the police car, shoved her into it, none to gently, then started up Mouse Hill and out Indian Road to the former chicken house where Wendi made her home.

She got out of the car meekly enough, then turned and stamped her foot. "Dang you Jimmy Freshcorn. It's cold out here. I don't have no heat. And the radio said that snow is acoming. How do you expect a poor old lady like me to live this way?"

"Wendi, you've been living out here in this chicken house for years. Don't give me no argument. You got to stay out of trouble. And stay out of other people's houses!" Jimmy jumped in the car and drove off.

The next morning Wendi saw Doc Hefflin's car coming. She ran out to the road and waved him down.

"Doc, I got to go to town. Give me a ride."

"OK, Wendi, jump in."

He let her out in front of Wilda's Restaurant.

As she walked in the door, Wilda gave her an angry look. "What're you doing in town again? Why don't you just stay out in the country where you belong?"

"Now Wilda, don't get yourself in an uproar. It ain't good for you. Just get me a cup of coffee. I want a biscuit and gravy without none of that sausage in it. I got money." She laid a dollar down on the counter.

Wilda wasn't happy about it, but she took the money and set the coffee in front of Wendi.

Jimmy came in for his morning coffee. He saw Wendi and stopped in mid step.

"Wendi! What're you doing back here again!"

"Now Jimmy Freshcorn. Just settle down. I talked to the Wilkenses over on Front Street, and they are going to let me live in their back room this winter. Didn't charge me much at all. And it's warm. Now you just go on your way and let me alone."

Jimmy just shook his head, then went out, forgetting about coffee.

The first storm blew in that night. Down around zero and about six inches of snow.

Wendi had slept with her shoes on as usual. "I'm glad I'm in here where it's warm, " she said. She got up to put another lump of coal in the tiny stove. It gave off a satisfying glow of warmth. She just stood soaking in the heat.

"Breakfast is ready." Bertha Wilkens stood in the doorway. "Come and get it."

Wendi went into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

Bertha had made a big pan of biscuits and a skillet full of red-eye ham gravy. She poured Wendi a cup of coffee, then set a plate of biscuit and gravy in front of her.

Buford Wilkens came in. He sat down, gave Wendi a frown. Bertha set his food down in front of him. He took a sip of coffee, then began eating.

Wendi ate half a biscuit and drank a little coffee. "I'm full," she said. "That's sure good food. I like hot coffee. It gives me a warm feeling all over."

Then she went back to her room.

Wendi put her boots on over her shoes and bundled up good. She went out the side door and walked down the street to Wilda's restaurant.

"Gi'me a biscuit and gravy and coffee. That Bertha tried to starve me. I don't know how I'm going to get through this winter here. I wish I could stay at home."

Wilda frowned, and put the food in front of her.

Wendi ate a few bites, drank some coffee, threw some money down, and left.

When she got back to the Wilkenses, Bertha was packing a suitcase.

"We got a call that Buford's Grandma died up near Cleveland. We've got to go right away. You'll be all right here. There's plenty of food. Just help yourself. And please feed the dogs. We may be gone a week or so. You'll be all right here by yourself."

Wendi nodded her head, then went into the back room.

The next morning Wendi made coffee and ate a cold biscuit. Then she took a pan of food out to the dogs and fed them.

As she watched them eat, she became angry.

"Dad-basted dogs!" she mumbled. "I'm sure going to feed you!"

She walked back in the house and called the dog catcher.

"Fred Simms, you get out here to the Wilkenses and pick up these dogs! They don't want them anymore. Dogs is too much trouble. You come and pick them up!"

In about twenty minutes Fred drove up in his truck. Wendi came out to meet him.

"It's about time you got here, Fred Simms. You get those dogs loaded into your truck. We want them out of here! They're around behind the house."

Fred just shook his head, but what could he do? He followed her, led the dogs to the truck, loaded them in and drove off.

A week later the Wilkenses came home. After unpacking everything, they went out to see about the dogs. They came running into the house and burst into the back room.

"Wendi! Where are the dogs? What has happened to them?"

"Them dogs was too much trouble. I called the dog catcher and he came and got them. You'll be glad I did that. You need to get a cat."

"Wendi! How could you!" Bertha wailed. She ran to the phone to call Fred Simms, the dog catcher.

"Fred! Wendi had you pick up our dogs! Don't you know how crazy she is? Why did you do it?"

"Now, Bertha. Settle down. I've got them here safe and sound. I know all about Wendi. You can come and get them anytime. I will have to charge you, though. It costs something to run the dog pound and they do eat a lot. You do have to pay a small fine, too. I'm sorry, but it was out of my hands."

Bertha slammed the phone on the hook.

"Wendi, you are sure lucky Fred kept those dogs. Don't you ever do anything like that again! I'd make you pay what Fred is charging us, but you don't have any money, do you?"

Wendi turned up her nose and went back into her room.

A few weeks later Bertha came into Wendi's room.

"Wendi, this just isn't working out. We can't take it anymore. You have got to go. Right now. If you give me any trouble, I will call Jimmie Freshcorn and have him throw you out."

"Bertha, it's cold outside. You can't do this to an old woman like me. You got to let me stay until Spring when I can go back home again."

"Don't give me that poor old woman stuff. We've known you for years. You have to find another place to live. That's it."

Wendi went around gathering up her clothes and things and put them in a paper bag. Then she shook her fist at Bertha and went out the door.

Martha Cheltenham, Effie's mother, was nearly blind, and lived over on Back Street.

Wendi pulled her scarf tightly around her head, and shivered in the cold. She walked around for a while, thinking of where she could go. She wandered over to Back Street, and then up to Martha's door. She found the door unlocked, and went in.

"Is somebody there? Who is that?"

"It's me, Martha, Wendi. I've come to stay a while. I'll put my stuff in the upstairs bedroom."

"You can't do that! What're you doing! You must go somewhere else!"

But Wendi went on up the stairs.

"Wendi, you get down here. You can't stay here!"

Martha felt her way around the bottom of the stairs, but what could she do?

Effie came straight home from work.

"Mother! I'm home."

"Effie, is that you? Help me! That Wendi came in here and then went upstairs. She says she is going to live with us. I can't stand having her here. You've got to do something!"

Effie ran up the stairs and into the bedroom.

"Wendi! Right now! Get out of here! Mother is calling Jimmie Freshcorn and he will be right here."

Wendi sat up.

"You can't put me out. Where will I go? It's cold out."

Effie grabbed her arm and started dragging her down the stairs.

Jimmie Freshcorn was just coming in the door.

"All right, Wendi," he said. "Let's go." He led her out and took her away.

"Dang you, Jimmie. My clothes is still back there. I got to go back to get them."

"Nothing doing. You're going out Indian Road and staying where you belong."

By now Spring was not too far away, but it still was cold! Wendi was back in her chicken house, but she had no water, and no heat, and only a little food in cans. She got up that morning with a cold in her head and some pain in her chest. She already had her clothes on. She had slept that way. It was cold. When she went to see about her cat, she could see that it was sick, it's eyes matted.

"I got to get help for that cat," she said. She went out to the road and hitched a ride to Preacher Scott's house, which was not far from town.

She banged on the door. "Preacher Scott! Take me to town. I got to get medicine for my sick cat."

"Just as soon as my wife gets ready," he said. "We were about to go into town anyway."

Wendi sat on the couch. She sneezed and blew her nose. "I got to get medicine for my cat."

"It sounds like you ought to get medicine for yourself. Can we take you to the Clinic."

"Naw. I'm all right. Just a little cold in my head."

By the time they reached the Veterinarian's Office, Wendi was in bad shape. She got the medicine for her cat. But when she came out, she staggered and nearly fell.

"Wendi, you need help. You're really sick! We're going to take you to the Clinic."

At the Clinic, the nurse took Wendi into a room. She came back to speak to Dan Scott.

"I'm worried about Wendi," she said. "She comes here every month for medicine for her heart. She has lost a lot of weight, and today she is running a fever. Are you responsible for her?"

"No. She calls on me because I'm the preacher out on Indian Road. We try to help. I don't think her family has much to do with her."

"Well, I'm going to give her an antibiotic. I wish you would check on her from time to time. She isn't well at all."

"We'll do that.

In a few minutes the nurse came out of the room. "Wendi's niece is Kayla. I called her. She is going to come in about an hour and take Wendi home with her. I'm glad she does have family to look after her. Thanks for your help."

"Thank you," Dan said. "We appreciate your concern. We wouldn't want her to be out there and all alone."

Wendi came out of the room. "Kayla!" she said. "Kayla has two big dogs! How am I going to get along there? What about my cat?"

The nurse just shook her head.



About five miles from Vinton there was an old house, the windows boarded up and the door secured with a padlock. Behind it was a small building that had once been a chicken-house. Wendi lived there.

She was sitting on a stool out near the road, waiting to catch a ride into town. Her seven cats were meowing and rubbing against her legs.

She was mumbling and grumbling to herself. "The nerve of that Jimmy Freshcorn. Telling me not to find things that ain't lost. I'll sure tell him a thing or two."

She heard a car coming in the distance and turned to see who it was.
"Hey! Doc Hefflin! Give me a ride to town!"

He slid to a stop as she stepped right out in front of his car.

"Wendi! Someone is going to run over you yet. You better quit doing such things. Get in. I'm heading for town anyway."

"Thanks Doc," she said. "I'll give you a quarter the next time."

"Forget it. I don't want your money. I said I'm headed for town."

Doc Hefflin let Wendi off at the Fire Station as usual. She went on in to bum a cigarette from Joe.

Then she walked down the street to the Constable's office. She had a thing or two to tell him.
She reached the office just as he came out.

"You listen here, Jimmy Freshcorn. You better be nice to me. I'll put a spell on you!"

Jimmy laughed. "Old woman, you're no witch."

"Yes I am! I put a spell on Henry Taylor and he broke his big toe the next day. I've got the power!"

Jimmy just shook his head, turned and walked away.

Wendi stamped her foot and shook her fist at him. Then she walked on down the street to Wilda's Restaurant for her usual breakfast.

Wilda came over as Wendi sat down at the counter.

"Did you save me my gravy without none of that salty sausage in it?"

"Now Wendi, you know I always save you your gravy. I got it right back here, keeping it warm for you."

She put the bowl of gravy on the counter along with a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Wendi crumbled up the biscuit into the gravy and began eating.

"That Jimmy Freshcorn. Just because he is the Constable he thinks he knows so much. He'd better not give me a hard time. I'll surely put a spell on him. Turn him into a dog or a snake or something."

"Woof! Woof!" said Charles Pugh, who was sitting over in the corner.

"You better be careful yourself, Charles Pugh. I'll surely get you too."

"Wendi, you just scare me to death," said Charles, laughing as hard as he could.

Wendi snorted angrily and turned back to her biscuit and gravy. She took a sip of coffee.
Wilda winked at Charles.

When she had finished, Wendi walked out the door and over to the Grocery that Everett Wood's son Hank ran for him.

"Hank, you got some of those rolls left. Give them to me. I can warm them up in the skillet and they will be fine."

"Sure, Wendi. These are only about a week old. I've saved them for you. Can I get you anything else?"

"How about some of that cow butter. That oleo ain't fit to eat. I got to have something to put on those rolls."

"Here you are. That'll be a quarter for the butter."

"A quarter! You're trying to rob a poor old woman."

"Now Wendi, you know that's a good deal. You can't get it any cheaper."

"Well, I guess I'll have to take it. Give me a can of that tomato soup. I'm going to cook some macaroni and put tomato soup in it. And give me a big onion too."

Hank put it all in a paper bag and handed it to her.

As she stepped out to the sidewalk, H. K. Butler, the undertaker, came strutting down the street, leading his big dog. When he saw Wendi, he tried to duck back between two buildings so she wouldn't see him. But it was too late.

"I see you, H. K. Butler! Don't think you can hide from me. I'll whirl around and touch my nose and my forehead and put a spell on you."

"Hello, Wendi. I didn't want to take up your valuable time. I wasn't trying to hide or anything. I'm just out for my usual walk as you can see."

"You better be nice to me, H. K. Butler," she said as he walked by her.

About noon Jimmy Freshcorn sat down at the counter in Wilda's Restaurant.

"I hear Wendi is going to turn you into a dog or something," Wilda said.

"Everybody knows Wendi. She thinks she has the power. It's probably hardening of the arteries if the truth were known. How old is she now?"

"Surely up in her eighties. But I wouldn't want her mad at me. I do feel sorry for her, though. Who does she have to take care of her?"

"She ought to get a room in town. But I'm really glad she still lives out in the country, so I don't have to bother with her very much."

Jimmy finished his burger and coffee, then got up and went out the door.

He walked along the street, looking at the houses, then on down to the Grocery where he spoke to Hank.

"Hank, how's it going?"

"OK Jimmy. Been a busy day. How about you?"

"About like usual. Has Wendi been in to bother you today?"

"Just the usual. I gave her some week-old rolls. You do have to watch her like a hawk. She'll pick up anything loose. But she's usually harmless."

"She surely does need help. But how can you help her? I don't know."

"The Reverend Brother Ed Harris has tried to talk with her. She says she is a member of his church, though I've never seen her there. But I do think she did go one time."

Jimmy walked on down to the funeral home to see H. K. Butler.

"H.K. How's the world treating you today?"

"Could be better. That Wendi was in here this morning, going through the pockets of the coats on the coat rack. Said she was looking for some matches. You really have to watch her."

"I know. We're all going to have to do something."

Jimmy went back to his office. He leaned back in his chair, put his feet on the desk, and closed his eyes.

Jimmy woke with a start as the door burst open. He jumped to his feet and the chair fell over backwards.

"Dadblast you, Jimmy Freshcorn, you lazy thing!"

"Wendi! What's the matter with you? Bursting in here like that!"

"I told you you better be nice to me. Now I'm going to give it to you. I have the power and I'm going to put a spell on you. Turn you into a dog."

The noise was beginning to attract a crowd. People were looking in the window.

Wendi stood up straight, whirled around three times, touched her nose and then her forehead.
"Abracadabra! You are now a dog, Jimmy Freshcorn. I have put my spell on you."

Jimmy got down on the floor and began barking and bouncing around on his hands and knees like a dog. He bounced out the door onto the sidewalk, still barking and howling. The people scattered.

"Jimmy!" shouted Wendi. "What have I done to you? I didn't mean it! I was just trying to scare you. Please don't be a dog. Be yourself again."

She ran after him and tried to make him stand on his feet. "Get up!" she shouted. "Oh! Why did I ever put a spell on you! What'll I do now?"

Jimmy kept barking and howling, but finally he stood up.

"Wendi, I was just trying to teach you a lesson. You're no more a witch than I am. You got to quit doing these crazy things, and you got to quit bothering people. We all care about you, but you got to behave."

For once Wendi was speechless. For a moment she stood as stiff as a board.

"Dadblast you, Jimmy Freshcorn, you near scared the gizzard out of me!"

Then she stopped. She shook her head. She went up to Jimmy and gave him a big hug, then turned, and walked away.

She walked back to Wilda's Restaurant.

"Give me a big cup of black coffee, straight. I sure need it. That Jimmy Freshcorn! He near scared me to death! Pretending he really was a dog. We've got to do something about him. He's getting to big for his britches."

Wilda just smiled.


R. D. Ice

Snow was falling heavily from a darkened sky and the wind shrieked around the house. It was November, 1950. Thanksgiving was still a few days away. The big snow had begun.

Roger pulled on his boots and bundled himself up against the cold. He went out and began sweeping the wet, sticky snow off his car. There was at least six inches already.

He went to get the snow shovel. It took some time to dig around the car. He got in it, started the motor, and tried to back it up. The tires spun and it didn't move far. "I should have bought chains," he said to himself, "or at least some good snow tires."

The snow was getting deeper all the time. There must be 8 or 10 inches of it by now.

He went to the barn and cleared the snow away from the door. He went in to see about the cows, threw down some hay for them, and made sure they had water. Then he went to the chicken-house and gave them food and water.

When he got back to the house, the phone was ringing.

"Roger, this is Johnny. Dad and Mom are stranded in the snow over near Picktown. I'm taking the big tractor over to get them. I need your help."

"Sure. I'll bundle up and be ready."

He closed the door and walked across the porch to the driveway. The snow was at least a foot deep now and still falling heavily. The wind was blowing the snow into deep drifts. He waded through a drift to the edge of the road. In the distance he could hear the bark of the tractor.

The tractor pulled to a stop in front of him, its headlights shining.

"We've got shovels and a chain," said Johnny. "If the snow doesn't get any worse, we can go dig Dad and Mom out and get back before dark."

Roger climbed up on the fender. Ronald was sitting on the other fender.

"What do you think of this weather!" Roger shouted. "It'll certainly set a record."

"I've never seen the like!" Ronald shouted.

The wind shrieked through the trees. The snow blew in gusts which would blank out everything in a curtain of white.

"Look at that drift," Roger shouted!

The front of the tractor hit the drift and snow blew up over them. Johnny shifted to a lower gear, and the tractor roared as it spun the tires and broke through.

"It's four miles to Picktown," Johnny shouted. "We won't make much speed at this rate."

The wind kept blowing up deep drifts of dense snow. It seemed like hours were passing. Again and again they met drifts that stalled them. Each time they would jump off and begin digging out a path. The tractor would break free and surge ahead.

Finally they knew they were near their goal.

"Up ahead," Johnny shouted. "Dan Green's house. Look at the cars."

Four cars were stuck in snow drifts near the house. A bus had skidded off the road and leaned crazily in the ditch.

"That's Dad's car in the driveway," Ronald shouted. Johnny drove the tractor through a drift into the driveway.

"Come in out of the cold," Marge Green shouted from the house.

They waded through the deep snow to the porch. They swept the snow off each other, stamped their feet, then went into the house.

"Are you cold," Marge asked?

"Naw," said Roger. "We've been working hard digging our way through the snow. But it's good to get inside."

John Arledge [that's Dad] was sitting over in the corner by the stove. There were twenty people crammed into the small room.

"You're stuck here for the night," Dad said. "You would never get us anywhere in all this snow. None of us can do anything until they clear the roads tomorrow."

"You are all welcome here," Dan said. "You'll have to sleep on the floor, though. There just isn't any room."

Marge Green stood in the kitchen doorway.

"Come and get some hot soup. I've made a big kettle of potato soup. There's home-made bread too. Plenty for all."

It surely tasted good. We made pigs of ourselves.

"We've even got a TV," Dan said. "A big seven inch screen, and the station is on all night. They broadcast those English movies at night."

So most of the people just sat up and watched the movies. It was a real treat to see TV. Not many people had them as yet.

Some curled up and slept. Roger stayed awake watching TV until about an hour before dawn. Then he dozed off for a little while.

Marge was up early, making coffee and baking biscuits.

Johnny woke up and roused Roger and Ronald. "Hey, sleepy heads! Let's get at it. We can take the tractor and go into Picktown and see what's happening. We can't help Dad and Mom until they clear the roads."

They ate a good breakfast, then bundled up and went on their way. It was beautiful! The sun was shining on a scene that was entirely white. The snow was at least two feet deep, with drifts four or five feet high. The cars were completely covered. Just the top of the bus stuck out of a drift

They dug out the tractor, got it started and backed it into the road. It stood high enough that it went through two feet of snow easily. But three times in the short distance to town they came to deep drifts and had to dig their way through.

In Picktown even the mayor was out digging snow, along with most who lived there.

"Hey boys, it's good of you to come. Give us a hand will you? Isn't this some snow!"

Johnny pulled the tractor off the road between drifts. They began helping to dig out the city building. Their shovels made the snow fly!

The road crew came through in the middle of the morning. They had borrowed a big bulldozer. "Acme Construction," the logo said.

"All our scrapers are stuck," one of the men shouted. "We had to get something big. This'll move the snow."

They went on down the road, clearing it, shoving the snow over into piles as they went.
By now it was almost noon.

"Thanks for your help," said the mayor. "We certainly do appreciate it. You can go now, if you need to."

"We better do it," said Johnny. "We've got to rescue Dad and Mom and get them back home."

When they got back to Dan Green's, the road had been cleared. They quickly shoveled the snow from around Dad's car and backed it out onto the highway. Dad and Mom came out to watch.

"Snow is beautiful," Dad said, "but enough is enough!"

Dad and Mom got in the car and headed for home. The boys followed on the tractor. It was an experience to remember. It took several days to get everything back to normal. The piles of snow would last for weeks before they melted. And the winter was just beginning!