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Posts tagged ‘Casey Jones’

Fat and Sassy: Los Angeles County Arboretum

It’s Tuesday Tales time. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘savage’.

I think I know the direction some of our romance writers will take with this, but in Fat and Sassy, we’re going down another path. We’re moving into 1951 now, the year we need to be in for this historical tidbit about the Arboretum to be true.

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more snippets.


tarzanA car pulled to a stop in front of the house. Bea pulled back the curtain and peered outside. “Mrs. Finkbiner’s come for her wash,” she said out loud, although Alvin – home from kindergarten – was the only one around to hear her. She eased up from the sofa and headed to the door.

“Howdy,” Bea said, holding the screen door open.

“Afternoon Bea,” Mrs. Finkbiner said, entering the front room, intact with pocketbook and gloves. “How are you today?”

“Oh, just fat and sassy,” Bea answered. “You have time for a cup of coffee before you run off?”

“I could sit for a few and visit, but I’ll pass on the coffee. I’m headed home from the meeting at the Women’s Club and we had coffee there right before I left.” She sat her pocketbook on the floor and settled down on the sofa. “Joe’s going to be at the market till late tonight. Something about a delayed delivery. I declare, that man’s going to work himself to an early grave.”

Bea sat in the rocker across the room and turned towards Mrs. Finkbiner. “So how was yore meeting at the woman’s club?”

“It was the usual. You know how it is when a group a women get together.”

No, Bea didn’t really know how it was when a group of women got together. Other than the socializing at church, she didn’t have time to get together to just chat and drink coffee. She had her family. She had her ironing business. She had her church. She wasn’t really in the community women’s group social circle.

“Bertha, one of the members, did have some exciting news,” their visitor added. “They’ve planted 1,000 trees at the Arboretum, and they expect to open it to the public within the next five years.”

A puzzled look flashed across Bea’s face. “The Arboretum? What’s that?”

“Why, the Arboretum is the site in Arcadia that the state and county purchased from the Lucky Baldwin estate. It’s over a hundred acres and will be planted with all types of trees, shrubs and botanical wonders. It will be a delightful place to visit. I can’t wait until they’re done with all they have planned for it.”

“I guess being an Arkie gal, and all the woods and hollers I had in my own backyard, I plumb don’t understand why people have to make a place like that on purpose.”

“Why, Bea dear, that may be so back in the hills where you lived before, but here in California we don’t have the delightful acreage that you’re so familiar with. Why, most of this area was an arid desert for years until they brought irrigation here.”

“I reckon that’s so,” Bea agreed. Not that she really agreed with her guest. But in an effort to be polite, after all, she was one of her best customers, and her husband was an influential person in the community. Even though they attend a different church, Bea thought silently.

“The part I’m most excited about,” Mrs. Finkbiner continued, “is that the acreage included in the sale to the Arboretum will have the site where the Tarzan movies were filmed.”

“The Tarzan movies?” Bea questioned.  Now she was really feeling behind the times, not having a clue about what her guest was talking about.

Mrs. Finkbiner held her hand to her chest in astonishment. “Back in thirties, didn’t you see any of the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismuller? The ‘noble savage’?” She fanned her face to mimic heat rising.

“No. I was either back in the hills with no electricity and no running water. Or else, I was getting married and we were back and forth trying to make a living, and starting a family. I don’t reckon there was much time or money for going to the movie theater.”

Mrs. Finkbiner chatted for a few more minutes, then picked up her pocketbook and opened it. “How much do I owe you, dear?”

“That would be two dollars today.” Bea stood & gathered the dress shirts and dresses hanging neatly on the hangers on the laundry stand in the corner.

Watching her visitor pull away, Bea had a momentary lapse where she began to wonder what else she’d missed in life, besides the Tarzan movies, and the urge to visit planned, planted acres. A tug at her skirt got her attention and she glanced down to Alvin standing quietly beside her. “Hey Bubby-boy,” she said, patting his head. No, I’m not missing a thing. I don’t need no high-falutin’ life. I’ve got everything I need right here.

Fat and Sassy: Glendora Citrus

Welcome to Tuesday Tales. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘lemon’.

In Fat and Sassy we’re back to the late 1940’s, after our brief foray into 1958 last week. (Isn’t writing fun? It’s like time travel, without the hassle of a space convertor – or whatever one would use for time travel.)

Return to TUESDAY TALES here for more snippets using lemon.


smudge potsCasey opened the front door. No one was in the front room. “I’m home,” he called. He sat the small brown sack on the end table and went in search of the family.

Bea was standing at the kitchen table, running left over roast through the meat grinder. A small bowl of pickles sat on the table waiting its turn through the grinder, spreading its fragrant sweetness through the room.  “You ready for a sandwich? The fixins’ll be ready in a few.”

Children ringed the table, watching Bea work, anxious to taste the results. Mae was in position at the sink, washing plates.

“Shore thing. Looks mighty tasty.” Pulling out a chair, Casey sat and reached for the bag of Bar-B-Que chips. “Guess who I ran into at the hardware store?”

“No telling. The mayor? Brother Cline?”

“No. Bill Stoddard.”

Mae turned, holding the soapy rag up, “The man from the packing house that gave me my dolls?”

“Yes’m. He’s the one. He asked about all you chillin’s. I told him you still treasure those dolls.”

“How’s he doing?” Bea asked. “He shore was kind to us when we lived behind the packing house.”

Casey paused as he bit into a chip before answering. “He’s doing well. Said he had an offer to go with Upland Lemon Growers. But he doesn’t think he’ll take it. He said it’s more money, but that it’s almost not worth driving over the hill to Upland every day. He said he’s been with Glendora Citrus Association for so long that it would feel like leaving family.”

“We’ve shore met some nice people with all our moves back and forth across the country.” Bea picked up the pickles and started running them through the grinder. “I miss back home. But I shore like the winters better here. Sure beats shoveling snow and being chilled to the bone.”

“I like all the orange groves here,” Ida piped up. “I like the smell when the trees have all the flowers all over them.”

“Me too,” Helen agreed. “I walk by the groves on the way to school and take deep breaths of the orange blossoms.”

“All the orange trees are nice here,” Bea said. “But I shorely wish they didn’t have to use those dad-gum, nasty smudge pots.”

“Now, Mother,” Casey said, “you know they need those to save the citrus crops. Those pots are a blessing to the industry. Without the citrus in the area, we’d all be a lot worse off than we are. There’s a lot of jobs going to those groves and packing houses.”

“That’s a fact. But yore not the one who has to clean up all the black smoky mess that fills the house on the nights they fire up those pots. That smudge creeps in through every surface and covers everything in its path. I’ve even rolled towels and laid in the windowsills to try to help keep it out and it doesn’t help much.”

“Least ways they don’t need to fire up the pots every night. Only when it gets cold enough.”

Bea picked up a large spoon and mixed the ground roast and pickles. “Hand me that loaf of bread, Prissy.”

Ida handed the bag across the table to her mother. “I’m ready for a sandwich.”

“Yore Daddy first. Then you chillin’s get yore sandwich.”

Fat and Sassy: Riding the Red Car

It’s TUESDAY TALES. This week, we’re writing to a picture prompt. 300 words only, so the scenes will be short. Return to TUESDAY TALES for more great snippets, in a variety of genres.

TT_ornate mirrorThis scene is from my WIP, Fat and Sassy. This scene is based a true slice of life (story compliments of my mother as a girl). She and her friend Francie did occasionally ride the electric car, The Red Car, into Monrovia to visit Francie’s mother at work at JC Penny’s. The Pacific Electric Railway never turned around. When it got to its final destination in LA, it simply reversed direction and headed back to Glendora. Service on the Pasadena and Monrovia/Glendora lines was terminated in 1951, due to new freeway construction in the area. The conversation the two girls had — pure fiction on my part. My dad jokes that my memory of events that happened before I was born is phenomenal.


“C’mon, we’re gonna be late.” Mae tugged at Francie’s hand. “If we miss the Red Car, I’ll be late for dinner and my Mama won’t be happy.”glendora rail car - color

“Just a minute,” Francie said, turning her head for once last glance in the ornate mirror behind the JC Penny’s counter. She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear “She’d understand, though, wouldn’t she? After all, it’s not like we ride the street car into Monrovia very often.”

“No, we don’t. But I don’t think that matters to Mama. I’m lucky she even let me come with you. Usually I have to be home on Saturdays doing the dishes or watching Alvin Dale.”

“I sure am lucky I don’t have any younger brothers or sisters. It seems like you’re always watching him. You have to take Alvin everywhere with you. I’m surprised you didn’t have to bring him with us today.”

“That’s only because Mama didn’t want to have to pay an extra dime for him to ride the street car. Plus, she knew we were coming in to see your mom at work and she probably knew it would be more fuss for your mother if we had him with us.”

The girls headed out the door to stand by the rail car station, waiting to board for the return trip to Glendora.

“It is too bad, though,” Mae said. “He would have liked to see how the cup and pulley system takes the money and the order upstairs, then they send the change back down to the counter in the same contraption. That’s kind of neat. They don’t have anything fancy like that in the stores in downtown Glendora.”

glendora old pulley cash system

Fat and Sassy: Gettin’ ready for church

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘end’. Return to TUESDAY TALES for more great story snippets.

My WIP, Fat and Sassy, continues as the Jones Family heads to the stone church in Glendora.

green beansThe next morning Bea roused all the children from their slumber. “Rise and Shine!”

“I wanna sleep,” Bill whined.

“Me took,” Ida chimed in from her bed.

“Don’t give me no sass,” Bea hollered down the hall. “Up and at em! Come eat yore breakfast so we can get cleaned up and head to church.

Tom, the ornery little stinker that he was, was already up and playing, rifling through Bill’s things.

Bill woke up enough to finally realize what Tom was looking through. “Get outta my stuff!” he yelled. With all the commotion, Alvin woke up and started crying.

“Mae, git a bottle for your brother,” Bea yelled.

Helen stood in the bathroom, brushing her hair, oblivious to the confusion.

Everyone finally made their way to the kitchen. As the children sat, eating their oatmeal, Bea was busy in front of the stove, snapping green beans to fill up the Dutch oven. She added a large spoon full of bacon grease into the pot, stirred it in, and placed the cast iron lid on top.

“Dad,” she said to her father, who sat sipping coffee from his saucer. “I’m gonna leave the beans cooking on low while we’re at church. Can you check on it now and then, and make sure it doesn’t boil dry.”

“Shore nuff,” Papa replied. “I reckon I can handle that chore.”

Somehow, all the children ended up in clean clothes, with clean faces and slicked down hair. “Tom, c’mere,” Bea said. He walked over and in a flash, before he knew what happened, she licked her thumb and wiped a smudge off his cheek. “There, that’s the end of that.”

Bea picked up her purse and slid it down to the crook of her elbow. “Casey, carry my Bible,” she commanded, handing her worn leather bound Bible to her husband. She lifted little Evan up to her hip. “C’mon children,” she called. “We need to git on the road iffn’ we’re gonna get to Sunday School on time.”

Fat and Sassy: Finkbiner’s Market

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week, we’re writing to the prompt ‘pale’. Check out the story snippets and see the wide variety of how the different genres have used ‘pale’.

In Fat and Sassy, Bea and Casey are living an ordinary life in the 1940’s, raising children and living in a small suburban southern California town, trying to keep the family fed, clothed, and sheltered. Little did they know then, that the places they spent their time would end up being “historic sites” in the future. Then, they were simply places to shop and worship.

Summer 1948

glendora_old picBea slipped a fried egg onto Casey’s plate. “When’s yore next paycheck? We need some things from the store.”

“This Friday. It’s going to be short though.”

“That’s right. All that rain the past two weeks. Its shore messed things up for a lot of people.”

“Sure has,” Casey agreed. “I’m just glad our house isn’t one of those at the base of the foothills. A lot of them are plumb messed up from the mud slides.”

“Worst it’s ever been since we’ve lived here. Those wild fires last year didn’t help, burning out all the undergrowth we usually have.” The toaster popped and Bea pulled two pieces of slightly charred toast from it. Picking up a knife, she scraped some of the charred surface into the sink before buttering the toast and handing it to her husband.

“The foothills shore are a pretty sight to see every morning, especially in winter when the top of Mt. Baldy is covered in snow. We can be thankful for our view, even if we don’t have enough money all the time.”

“A nice view doesn’t put food in our belly though,” Bea said.

“True enough. True enough.” Casey ate a few bites of toast before asking, “So, are you a wantin’ to run downtown for shopping? Or just over to the little green store?”

“I’d like to go downtown to trade,” Bea answered. “Bolton’s Market is fine for a loaf of bread or some bologna. The odd items here and there. They’re a little dear sometimes, price wise. Finkbiner’s Market has much better prices.”

“All righty then, Finkbiner’s it is. I’ll stop at the bank on the way home Friday and we’ll go shopping Saturday.”

Saturday morning, just as promised, Casey and Bea headed out. “Keep an eye on yore brothers and sisters,” Bea reminded Mae. “Papa’s in back iffin’ you need anything.

Casey eased the car around the corner and headed south on Vista Bonita. Passing the back side of the Church of the Brethren on their way downtown, he said, “This afternoon I need head on down to the church and mow. Brother Ernest is sick and I said I’d fill in for him and get the lawns mowed and tidied up for church tomorrow.”

Two blocks further he turned right on Meda, then right on Glendora Avenue. He pulled up in a parking space across the street from Finkbiner’s.

finkbiners market“The store shore does look purty, after the work they did a year or so ago.” Bea picked up her pocketbook and stepped out onto the sidewalk. “I like the new plastered front. But I kind of miss the old stone walls. I think that’s one reason I like going to the Brethren Church. I like the way the building is made out of all those large gray stones.”

They stepped inside the familiar market and headed to get basket. “Hi ya, Joe,” Casey called to the owner, who was pacing the produce area, surveying the offerings and making notes on a small pad.

Joe waved. “Hello Casey. Hello Bea. How are you doing this fine sunny Saturday morning?”

“Oh, I’m just fat and sassy, as usual,” Bea answered.

“Where are all the little ones?”

“They’re home with Mae,” Casey said. “And with Papa. He’ll keep ‘em outta trouble.”

“I have no doubt he will,” Joe said, laughing and shaking his head. “Now, you let me know if you need anything. Or, one of the girls. I think Bernadette is up on the register right now.”

“Will do, will do,” Casey said. Turning to Bea, he asked, “Now Mother, what is it you needed while we’re here.”

Bea opened her pocketbook and rummaged around. “My list is here somewhere.” Not finding it she started naming off what she could remember, “Potatoes, maybe a few onions, coffee, we’re low on sugar … flour we’re good on … I’ll make some biscuits for supper … Oh! Green beans. I want to cook up a mess of green beans tomorrow …”

Casey leaned over a display of shiny tomatoes. “You want some tomatoes too? Some sliced tomatoes would be awful tasty with those green beans.”

“I suppose we could get one or two. If they’re not too dear.” She leaned in close to whisper, “They shore look pale compared to what we used to grow back home, don’t they?”

“Now Mother, they don’t have that good ole’ Ozark dirt you grew up with. We’re not back home anymore. We’re in Cali-for-ny-a,” he reminded Bea.

A wistful sigh escaped Bea’s lips. “I know. I’m happy here in Glendora, but some days the Midwest just tugs at my heart and I miss it.”

“Maybe someday we’ll go back,” Casey said. “C’mon. Let’s finish up the shopping and get out of here before we run out of money.”

They wandered through the aisles, picking up the necessities and eyeing a few luxuries that would remain sitting on the shelves. Bea darted around a corner and returned holding a small cellophane bag fill with orange colored pieces. “Here, we need a bag of your favorite candy,” she held up the marshmallow peanuts.

Casey’s eyes brightened. “Now, I won’t turn those down. I do enjoy one or two of those in the evening.”

Fat and Sassy: Glendora Library

It’s TUESDAY TALES! This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. Snippets are short – 300 words only!
Read Glendora Library, then return to TUESDAY TALES  here for more snippets written to this photo.

(Just a note. The story snippet is fictional. But the part about the flu epidemic, the library closed for two months, and the books wrapped and stored for a year without being touched is truth. I’ve been wanting to include this into Fat and Sassy somehow and this picture prompt gave me the scene. Thank you Glendora Public Library for the fascinating and informative history page you’ve included on your web page!!)

TT_library“Behave on the field trip,” Bea called to Mae, who was leaving for school.

“I will Mama!”

In class the teacher droned on and on … verbs … adverbs … pronouns … the least favorite subject of most of them.

Finally, to the children it seemed like hours later, Mrs. Standish called for attention. “Everyone line up please. Boys in one line, girls in another.”

The girl’s line formed with only a few giggles and little shuffling. The boys pushed. They shoved. They jockeyed for position as if the front of the line was the best place.

The walk to the library a few blocks away was uneventful. Mrs. Standish led the way, two trailing lines of baby chicks behind her.

Mrs. Domer, the City Librarian, greeted the class. “Right this way. Everyone have a seat on the floor. I’ll tell you a little about the library, then read you a story.”

She recounted the past, as if each line were engraved in her memory.

Eyelids began to droop. Yawns spread though the group.

“ … Athena Club in 1903 … free reading room … rented Frank Odell’s house … became part of the Glendora Woman’s Club … “

The children heard bits and pieces. Their minds wandered. Little legs began to fidget. Boys began to poke each other.

“ … flu epidemic …”

Mae’s ears honed in on this little piece of the monologue.

“ … and the library closed its doors in November and December of 1918 because of the flu epidemic. Schools were closed …”

The children giggled. Lucky!

“ … churches were closed. All public gatherings were prohibited. During this time all library books returned from flu infected homes were wrapped and sealed in heavy paper, not to be touched for a year.”

Fat and Sassy: Casey’s Birthday Dinner

Tuesday TalesIt’s TUESDAY TALES! Thank goodness for Tuesday Tales. Sometimes this is the only writing I get done during the week. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘meat’. I’m continuing with my current WIP, Fat and Sassy, the tale of Bea & Casey Jones raising six children, often without the proverbial ‘pot to pee in’.

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more story snippets (I’ve heard there’s a few that’s pretty steamy coming up this week!)


roastFebruary 1947

What to do? What to do? What on earth possessed me? Bea silently fretted. O, Lordy. Why in heavens name did I invite Annie and Johnnie over for supper?

There was barely enough food to feed the growing family – let alone to serve guests. It was Casey’s birthday though, and she knew that he’d enjoy a nice meal with his sister and favorite brother-in-law. After all, that’s about all the celebration there would be. She did have a nice dress shirt and tie tucked away. A few months back, Sister Nelson, from the church, brought over some of Brother Nelson’s shirts that were too small. One shirt looked brand new. You couldn’t even tell it had been worn. There was a nice striped tie nestled in amongst the much welcomed dress shirts. Bea tucked the best shirt and lone tie back in a drawer, saving it for a special occasion. They weren’t brand new, but they were new for Casey. He’d look so handsome at church Sunday with his new shirt and tie on.

Bea shifted sleeping Alvin on her lap, tucking the thin, well-worn receiving blanket around his legs. “Ona Mae, c’mere,” she called towards the back of the small house.

Mae appeared next to the rocker as if by magic. “What mama? Do you need a diaper?”

“No. Go git my coin purse. I need you to run over to the little green store for me.”

In a flash, Mae was back, holding Bea’s small clasp coin purse towards her. “What do you need, Mama?”

Bea unsnapped the clasp and counted two crumpled dollar bills. She shoved them back inside, amidst a bulging collection of pennies and nickels. “I need a roast for yore Daddy’s birthday supper. There should be enough here. Ask Mr. Bolton for a nice cut of meat.” She handed the meager collection of money towards Mae. “Here, take this with you. Be careful. Don’t lose it on the way. That’s all we have.”

Mae bounced towards the door, the little leather satchel clutched tight in her fingers.

“Take Bill and Helen with you,” Bea added as an afterthought. “And wear your sweaters. The wind is blowing today. Winter’s not over yet. The groundhog saw his shadow a few weeks ago.”

Fat and Sassy: Back on the Road Again

Tuesday TalesToday is TUESDAY TALES! The story of Bea and Casey Jones continues with my current WIP, Fat and Sassy.

Bea and Casey have given Arkansas and Missouri a good try. Work hasn’t been any better. Casey’s brother-in-law wrote of a job opportunity in California. 1943 finds them back on the road, reversing the trip on Route 66 they just made a year ago.



April 1943

route 66They had to wait a few weeks for the weather to get warmer. With an older vehicle that you cannot totally trust, you do not head out for a cross country move in cold, or hot, extremes. The milder, more temperate climate of spring made for better traveling conditions. The spring of 1943, a year after they had moved to the Ozark hills, they were headed back west on Route 66. Their belongings had not changed. Only the number of children had increased.

“Seems like we just made this trip,” Bea said from her position as co-pilot in the passenger seat.

“Good thing there is plenty of food. Ike and Thelma stocked us up good for the trip.”

“They surely did,” Bea agreed.

They traveled along, Bea busy reading the road signs and stomping on the brakes that didn’t exist on her side of the car. The children were excited to be on the road again, seeing new sights, after being cooped up in a miniscule house for the winter.

The Chevy chugged along through the New Mexico landscape. Casey was almost hypnotized by the road with the wavy mirages floating above the asphalt highway. The children dozed, heads nodding and bobbing.

“Twelve miles to Albuquerque,” Bea announced.

Casey nodded, as if he were paying attention to her running commentary. A loud clang jerked him to attention as the car wobbled and shook. A screeching noise pierced the car’s interior and Bea covered her ears. Casey looked in the rear view mirror and saw a line of sparks flying up from behind the car. He held the wheel tight and eased the limping vehicle towards the shoulder of the road where it slowed to a stop in its last dying moments.

“What in tarnation was that?” Bea asked. Tom and Ida awoke and started bawling. The three older ones in back woke up also, although they appeared dazed and confused and at least weren’t crying.

“Sit tight, Mother, I’ll go see.” Casey walked around the car, bending and peering underneath the chassis at different areas. Bea watched his every move, her head swiveling to follow his progress. He returned with a grim look on his face.

“We broke an axle,” he reported.

Bea held two babies on her lap, rocking back and forth, trying to soothe them. “What are we going to do?”

“We’ll have to get the axle repaired, if we can. Or find a new one.”

“Ain’t no stations out here in the middle of nowhere.”

“No there isn’t. Luckily we’re almost to Albuquerque. How far did the last sign say we were from there?”

“Twelve miles. Aren’t you glad now that I pay attention to these things?”

“Yes I am. Twelve miles,” he paused, deep in thought. “Better’n fifty or a hunnred. I’ll have to take the axel into town. At least it’s a large enough town, it’ll be easy to find a repair shop.”

“How ya’ gonna get there?”

“I’ll have to walk. It’s a far piece, but I’ve a done it before. Gonna take me near most of the day. Prolly be dark before I get back, then I can fix it in the light of day tomorrow.”

“We have the money to get it fixed?”

“Don’t know. Guess’n I’ll find out when I get into town. Might use up the last of our gas money though. So, we may be a stayin’ in this part of the state until I figure out how to get enough cash to get us to California. Maybe we should of stayed in Misery.”

“Too late to think that now. Besides, life twasn’t doin’ us any better there.”

Casey ran his fingers through his hair, accenting the worry lines etches around his eyes. “Better get a move on. This thang ain’t gonna fix itself while I stand her flappin’ my jaws. Come on out, Mother. I need you and the chillin’s outta the car while I work on it.”


Movin’ On

Tuesday TalesIt’s Tuesday Tales! This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘abrupt’.

Here’s a scene from my WIP, Fat and Sassy. Bea and Casey arrived back in Arkansas with a carload of kids in the spring of 1942. They stay with Papa, in the shanty in the ‘holler’ that Bea grew up in. Not finding work, Casey arrives home with an announcement.

Return to Tuesday Tales for more great stories!



Fall 1942

1930 chevyBea heard the old Chevy chugging along the dirt road towards the house. She shifted Tom to her other hip and reached for the percolator, holding it out of his grasping hands. She placed it on the wood stove to warm up.

“Hush,” she murmured to the baby. “Daddy’s home, now be a good boy. He’s had a long day out looking for work.”

“Mae,” she hollered out the open doorway where the children chased chickens in the dirt yard. “Bring Bill and Helen in and git ‘em washed up. Daddy’s almost home.”

Before the little ones gathered, the car pulled up, gave one last rattley cough and silenced.

“Daddy … Daddy ,” the three children gathered around the car. Little Bill jumped up and down as if springs were under his bare feet.

The children were excited to see Daddy. And young. They didn’t notice the weariness etched in his face, nor the defeat that settled around his shoulders as a cloak.

Casey stooped to embrace the children in his arms. A smile crossed his face and a glimmer of delight shined in his eyes. The world hadn’t defeated him yet. He had his wife and his children.

He picked up Helen, the smallest, and grabbed Mae’s hand. Bill bounced alongside of them into the wooden shanty they called home at the moment. Bea handed him a hot mug when he entered the doorway. He settled down into a rickety chair, careful not to upset the steaming coffee. He bounced Helen on his knee. “We’re moving to Misery.”

“We’re moving to Missouri, just like that?” Bea asked, a frown making it clear what she thought of the idea. “Isn’t that kind of abrupt?”

“I got word from Uncle Scott. He said there’s work up there. He said we can stay with him until we get on our feet. There’s plenty of room on the farm and I’ll help out with harvesting until I find work.”

“When do you intend on moving? I’m about ready to drop this baby. I don’t want to be birthin’ it on the road.”

“Then, we’d better get a giddyup in our step and get there sooner rather than later. We’ll go next week.”

“Humph”, Bea muttered under her breath. “That’s one good thing about not having a pot to piss in. It doesn’t take nuttin’ to pile it all in the jalopy and move on down the road.”

Fat and Sassy: Bear Creek Trestle

Tuesday TalesIt’s TUESDAY TALES! This week we’re writing to the prompt: railing.

The scene this week is in my WIP FAT AND SASSY. It’s 1942 and Bea and Casey have returned to Arkansas where Bea grew up, in search of work. To lighten their spirits, and hoping to catch a few fish to feed the family too, they take a ride out to Bear Creek Trestle.

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more stories to ‘whet your whistle’.



Bear Creek Trestle, built in 1934

Bear Creek Trestle, built in 1934

Dust swirled up around the old Chevy as it slid to a stop in the graveled turn out. The murky cloud enveloped the black sedan.

“‘Evan!” Bea screeched. “Be more careful.”

Casey knew he was in trouble when she called him Evan, and not Casey or Daddy. A slight smile spread across his face as he taunted back, “I’m surprised we still have a floorboard back there, the way you’ve been stomping on it since we left Myrtle.”

Papa Goss chuckled, exiting the front passenger door as fast as his ageing knees allowed. He was glad he wasn’t sequestered in the back with his daughter and the four young ‘uns. Bea’s brother, Sam, followed, also happy to get out of his cramped ride between the other two men.

The children spilled out of the car in a flurry of arms and legs. Mae, the oldest at five years old, led the way with her toddler siblings, Bill and Helen, right behind.

“Ona Mae,” Bea hollered from the back seat, “Come get your brother.” Arms handed Tom – the baby- out to her eldest daughter. Bea inched her way out the door, hoisting her pregnant frame up. “I’ll be glad when this chillin’s birthed,” she muttered, to no one in particular.

The men headed to the rear of the car and unstrapped the fishing poles and gear. They headed off, traveling up Walnut Creek, leaving Bea to get the children to the creek for some swimming and playing. Casey swung his bucket, whistling a jaunty tune as he disappeared around the bend.

“I want to go with Daddy and Papa,” Bill cried out.

Bea took the baby back from Mae and hoisted him on her hip. “You can’t go with Daddy. You’ll scare the fish away. Let’s go get wet in the creek.”

“Besides, you’re too little,” Mae piped in. She headed towards the water’s edge with her siblings in tow like a mother duck and her ducklings. The big mother duck, mother of them all, brought up the rear.

The children squealed with delight, feeling the cold creek wash up around their feet. Bea plopped herself down on a large rock. From this vantage point she could rest her weary body, yet keep an eye on the children.

“Mama, Mama, look at me,” three year old Bill called, wading deeper into the creek.

“Be careful! Get back closer to the bank,” Bea responded. “Ona Mae, watch your brothers and sisters.”

“Prissy, get back here,” Bea called out to inquisitive two year old Helen, who was wandering off down the bank peeking into puddles on the side.

Commands echoed from Bea’s perch on the rock.

“Don’t get too far in the water, you’ll drown.”

“Watch out for the water snakes.”

“Don’t go out too deep.”

“Be careful.”

Mae stood ankle deep, close to the side of the bank. She didn’t want to drown. “Mama, I want to go up there.” She pointed to the iron trestle bridge spanning the creek.

“No! You can’t go up there, it’s too dangerous.”

“I’ll be careful. I’ll hold onto the railing.”

“No,” Bea repeated. “It’s not safe. A train may come. And it’s too far up.”

“But you said Papa helped build the bridge. I want to go see it,” Mae insisted.

“Yes he did, years before you were born. But you can look from down here. Besides, I need you here to watch the young ‘uns.”

“But Mama …”

“Don’t sass back to me, Ona Mae Jones. Want some pepper in your mouth?” Bea grimaced as she felt a huge kick in her side.

“Ornery kid, this one’s feisty,” she mumbled.

Now where were those men, she thought. It wasn’t fair that she was saddled here with four children and a huge belly while they were off relaxing and fishing. She’d rather be up the creek with a pole in her hand than watching children. After all, any Arkie gal worth her nettle could sure ‘nuff handle a pole. She’d probably pull in more fish too.

She glanced up the creek in the direction the men had headed. Where were they? She hoped they didn’t have a flask with them. She hadn’t noticed one, but in the confusion of everyone exiting the car it was hard to tell what equipment they headed out with.

She grew up with ‘shine in her life. It was the way of the hills and paid for the clothes on the backs of her and her brothers, as few and far between as they were. She even had good ole’ moonshine to thank for her husband. Casey ran shine for Papa. He’d come down from Missouri to pick up a load and run it back up north. His twinkling eyes, cheerful disposition and tender smile had stolen her heart. But now that she was a wife and a mother, and away from the hills, she didn’t want white lightening in her life anymore.

A slight rumbling in the air echoed through the narrow gorge, interrupting her reverie. The earth began to tremble and vibrate.

“Train,” she hollered. “Kids, get over here by me.”

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