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Posts tagged ‘Tuesday Tales’

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.

1951

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.

1947

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: Patsy arrives

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

For this scene in Fat and Sassy, we’re jumping ahead about ten years, but this is the scene where I wanted to use hug. Next week we’ll return to the 1940’s.

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more great story snippets using hug.

1958

Patsy_newborn

Newborn Patsy

The years passed. Mae and Luther got married, proving the sisters and all their teasing right. Mae worked at Monrovia Nursery to pay for the wedding, since the family didn’t have funds to provide for one. Over fifty years later, when Patsy, the first daughter was working at a nursery in Arizona, she would remember her mother’s Monrovia Nursery stories every time they received a shipment from the same nursery.

Bill was stationed in Germany. Helen was getting ready to graduate from high school. Tom and Ida were right behind, still in school but not in need of mothering. Alvin was twelve, technically the ‘baby’ of the house, still Bea’s Bubby-boy, yet he wasn’t a baby any longer either. Life was easier for Bea now, without a house full of little ones. She missed little ones, though. Her arms ached to hold babies. Babies; they were her favorite. She’d get a baby in her arms and she’d start rocking. She didn’t even need a rocking chair. But if she were in one, she the baby and the chair would all be moving, keeping time with the lullaby crooning from her lips.

She couldn’t wait to be a grandmother. Mae was trying her best, now that she and Luther were married.  She was trying again for a little one. Two still born babies later, she and the rest of the family were nervous about how this pregnancy would turn out.

Priscilla Elaine Cline, the first grandchild on each side, was still born on Christmas Day, 1955. A little over a year later, on January 30, 1957, Patrick Elvin Cline joined his sister (and their uncle Evan Lee) at Oakdale Cemetery in Glendora.

The two young babies, who never drew a breath, brought back horrid memories of Evan Lee dying at such a young age. Bea remembered the pain of losing a baby. Mae had her own nightmares about Evan Lee that would plague her for years. And now she’d lost two babies. Bea and Mae had something in common. They had something in common that no mother ever wants to share.

Dr. Hightower, who had delivered Patrick and Priscilla, along with Evan Lee fourteen years earlier, and Luther and Gerald Cline years earlier than that, advised Mae not to try to have any more babies for at least five years. “Your body has to rest,” she said.

Mae’s new doctor, Dr. Bostwick, advised the same. “You’ll never have a normal baby,” he said.

Against medical advice from both doctors, one more was on the way. The old adage ‘third times a charm’ often came to mind. But most didn’t want to say it and bring bad luck with its utterance.

Patsy_and grandma J

Patsy and Grandma Jones

The morning of June 20th dawned with Mae in the midst of delivery. The physical pain was nothing compared to the pain of the possibility that she knew from two previous pregnancies. Would the doctors be right? Would this child die too? Was she doomed to the proclamation that she’d never deliver a normal baby? Hours later the doctor’s claims would be shot down. Patricia Faith Cline drew her first breath … and kept on breathing. Faith, her middle name, held Mae and Luther strong through the pregnancy. Faith held them together and the baby would carry the namesake with her for her whole life.

Bea and Casey were quick to arrive at the hospital once Casey got home from work that Friday afternoon. They were grandparents now. They stood and looked through the glass sentry, keeping them away from the fragile newborns camped out in the hospital bassinets. Bea stood, gazing at her granddaughter with pride. “I can’t wait until the baby comes home and I can wrap her up in a great big hug!”

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: Jones and Clines at church

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘nudge’. Return to TUESDAY TALES for more fun stories using this unusual prompt.

This WIP, Fat and Sassy, continues with the Jones family on their way to the stone church in Glendora. Living only two blocks from the church, the family walked. It was easier than trying to get the family of eight loaded in the car for a two block drive.

stone churchThe Jones family filed out the front door. Bea and Casey led the way, followed by a line of little chicklings. Mae was next in line, right behind her parents, her two sisters following behind her, laughing and pointing. Tom and Bill brought up the rear, lagging further behind with each block.

“See,” Helen said, giggling. She pointed to Mae’s behind. “See that swing Mae’s got.” She started swinging her hips from side to side, in an exaggerated manner.

Ida laughed. “Mae’s got a wiggle, Mae’s got a wiggle,” she called in a sing-song voice.

Mae stopped and turned to her sisters, her hand poised on her hip. “Stop it you two!”

Helen kept it up, singing her own little ditty, “Mae’s got a swing in her seat.”

Mae frowned at her sisters. “Ugh! I am so glad we’re in different Sunday School classes. You two can be so annoying.”

“Annoying? We’re annoying to Miss Hoity Toity,” Helen continued with her pestering.

“Girls,” Bea turned and called to the girls now far behind her. “That’s enough. Get yore bottoms up here and stop yore fighting.”

The lagging children scurried to catch up with their parents.

At the end of the block the gray stone church stood imposing on the corner of Glendora Avenue and Whitcomb Avenue. The boys broke into a run, across the green lawn Casey had just mowed the afternoon before. “I’m climbing on the wall first,” Tom called out.

“No you’re not. I am,” Bill called out as he moved into faster gear, taking over the lead. The girls scampered after them.

“At least they’ll git some energy out before church,” Bea said to Casey. She shifted Alvin to her other hip.

The family split into different directions. The children headed towards their different Sunday School rooms. Bea headed to the nursery to deposit Alvin for safekeeping. Casey headed towards the suited men standing in the foyer outside the main worship room.

“Brother Casey,” the pastor said, meeting him with hand outstretched.

“Morning Reverend Cline. How are you?”

The men continued their Sunday morning social ritual, much like the women gathering in their seats, catching up on the happenings in their lives and comparing notes with each other.

The individual classes came to a close and families started to gather in the main church for services. The Jones children joined their family in their usual pew, one by one, as Mildred, the pastor’s wife, softly played ‘In the Garden’, her favorite hymn.

The three girls sat next to each other. Helen nudged Mae and pointed to pew where the three Cline boys sat. “See, Luther is watching you. I told you he always watches you. He likes you.”

“He does not,” Mae insisted. “He’s looking at all of us.”

“Nope. He’s watching you,” Helen repeated.

As Mildred started playing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’, Cecil rose and headed towards the pulpit.

“Girls,” Bea hissed, “Hush!” Her hand reached down the pew towards the closest ear, which happened to be Ida’s, although she saw it coming and ducked out of reach before her ear got the familiar Sunday morning twist for misbehavior.

Cecil stepped behind the pulpit, hymnal in hand. “Good morning. Please turn to page 33 in your hymnal and join us in song.”

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.”

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