Charles Pendelton
      © 2008 Marty Langdon
Chapter 14

                           A long fabrication of tall tales woven

This was told to me seven years ago by Miss Drucella Wade who sold us her home. I was only
twelve years old at the time, and had a penchant for dreaming. How I would yearn for stories told
to me by my grandparents and aunt’s and uncle’s alike. How they laughed or became excited when
they told them and how these tales took me to another place in my mind. To visualize a part of what
they saw in that forgotten era. The missing pieces of time, before we were to relive again in thought.

How I conceptualized those days of long ago.

Just to hear them speak of when they were children, growing up on Thompson Street in Manhattan,
and what wonderful times they had back then. My aunt and uncle who never married were still living
there, and once a year we would stop by to pay them a visit. Overall, the place was kept fairly neat,
and the interior brick walls still retained their original dull luster, for they were never painted. In the
bathroom, you had to pull on a chain which in turn released the water so the toilet bowl could flush.

Unfortunately, there was no Victorian toilet bowl depicting a scene you would expect to find on
some of the world's most expensive china. No, those toilets were reserved only for the wealthy.

My uncle Tony was notorious for clogging it, and whenever he went in to do his business,
someone would open a window. They are no longer with us for they have escaped through
a crack time and have vanished. Very soon, it will be my turn to move on to better pastures.

To this day, I often think of the past and the people who came before us.
They are the ones who have struggled to overcome insurmountable odds
to take each family where it is today. Like the animals on the ground or the
fowl in the sky, we too struggle to protect and preserve our own bloodline.

Each family goes back to the very beginning of time.

Obviously, if you are in the here and now, it means you came from someone who came from
someone, straight down the line. No matter who you are, your ancestral roots date back to
either the baboon or the apple, and that's the God's honest truth. Only by the introduction
of foreign blood through adoption, can our family tree become impure. To take someone’s
offspring and love them as your own, literally equates to grafting them into a household
with an entirely different lineage.

Who are your descendants?

If you really want to get technical, every woman who bears children
leaves her own family to join another, so I guess it all works out.

On more than one occasion have I pondered my roots. To see my grandmother as a baby,
crawling around on the floor and talking nonsense. Or my grandfather's father growing up
in Glasgow. Or my grandmother's great-grandmother in her mother's arms looking up into
those peering eyes before learning how to speak. Ever feel like yesterday is really today?

Hearing about the past made me forget about the present time I was living in.
Things on my mind, were things I no longer had any control over.
Things that would eventually take their toll on me,
until there was nothing left, but a shadow of who I once was.

The year was 1975 and my parents were officially divorced.

Joe MacAlister was a military man who rendered a great service to his country.
Enlisting in the army in 1926, he would abandon his comely wife of four years,
leaving her to raise two little tyrants on her own for many months at a time.
His occasional return would impart much discipline needed upon the youths,
but when he left, the children lived as though they had bulls for a father.
Somewhere in the beginning of the nineteen-thirties that tree fort was built
by the boys and their dad.

Drucella would tell me unending stories about life in her day before moving
to New York, and for me that was history coming first hand from the source.
Unlike in high school where everything is totally unrelated to the person
sitting right in front of you.

The way I see it, old women have only two things left in life;
long stories and plenty of idle time to tell them.

She spoke fondly of her parents as she reminisced of a gentler time.
A time when everything in the universe was perfect, because the chronological
order of events had already unfolded. With the grim exception of slowly dying,
bridled together with that of losing one's own faculties, which in my opinion,
should always be considered a cause for concern as well.

Much like the withered spine of a discarded novel when it becomes untaut,
the strings that bind all things slowly begin to lose their rigidity.

Miss Drucella also told me a story about her very first car. It was a Model A Ford
purchased in the fall of 1903 for under a thousand dollars. At the time of purchase,
it was converted from a two-seater into a Tonneau. Here little Miss Drucella Magee,
who would one day become Miss Drucella Wade, had the back seat all to herself
as a youngster growing up in rural Ohio. Only seventeen hundred and fifty cars
were made, but would boast hers was the finest. 

                                                                               Pg 70

So highly she spoke of that automobile, it almost sounded as though
she were speaking of
a small child. How proud she must have been.

“When I first saw that car, I walked over
to it and would not leave its side. It was fire
engine red, and I was hypnotized. The sky was
overcast that day making all the other
cars appear gloomy. Too business-like or I don't know
what it was exactly. I only knew
that if my daddy was going to buy a car, then it was going to
be this one, so I sat inside
and would not get out for the world. The salesman took a liking to
me, as mom and dad
walked around the lot looking, and he bet me a nickel that he could sell
my daddy the car.
Now that was some bet! My father never liked the color red much to begin
with, but that
salesman, what was his name? Oh never mind. That salesman was so good he
have talked my father into buying any car on that lot, but he did it for me, you see!

A week later, I'll never forget it; I had daddy drive back to the lot, where I showed that
man the nickel. Of course he wouldn't take it, so I said to him, you see that car over there?
He said, yes. I said, if you don't take this nickel, then I'm going over to that car. I'm going
to get inside and I'm not going to leave. I'll be here for weeksssssss. He started to laugh.”

"Well in that case, he said, I better take it!"

Do you know that it took me a week’s worth of household
chores to earn that nickel,
but it was worth it. Who do you know that gets the car of their
dreams for a nickel?”

“And a chauffeur to boot,” I exclaimed!

“That's right,” said the old
lady with bleached white curls now laughing.
The long fabrication of tall tales woven
would never at any time become
dull, and my ears could not get enough words to listen to. 

After daddy purchased the automobile, he took me and my mother to the confectionist.

That was so nice of him. I bought rock candy and sucked on it all day long. From there
we stopped off at the general store for some school supplies I needed, and then daddy
took us home. Whenever I made crafts, it was always paper and glue I ran out of first.

Do you know my parents had that car until I was almost thirty years old?
A couple of fixer-ups along the way, but nothin’ major.

You see, back then there was no assembly line so the automobile had to be made by
hand and this took time. But doing things this way assured the buyer, he was getting
a quality product. Unlike today where everything is mass produced by machinery.

They should call it New America ‘cos it's certainly not the land I grew up in, but
what can ya do. *Sighs deeply* Boy, they certainly don't make 'em like they used
to. The following month we were planning a trip to the store, and my mother was
so determined, having finally worked up the courage to test drive that new car!

In those years, licenses for driving hadn't even been issued yet, let alone made
mandatory. My mother was so happy that day, because it was her anniversary
and father remembered. Just to know he hadn't forgotten was enough to brighten
mother's heart, allowing her to feel like the queen she most certainly was.

                                                                               Pg 71

Little things were a thrill back then like going to the marketplace, for example,
or giving the new car a go. We had nothin’ much to do in those days, but remain
a family, ‘cos money was tight and times were hard. Even going to church was
an adventure for us. . . There would always be laughter and harmony and joy.

Where was I again?
I seem to have forgotten where I was going with this story.

“You were saying your mom was gonna test drive the car.

“Oh that's right, I'm getting senile in my old age.
*Laughs lightly* Never thought I'd see the day.

Anyway, my mother put the key into the ignition and went around to crank the car from
the front. Recklessly, and in haste she tried to start the engine, but the car misfired and
the crank spun out of her hand nearly breaking my mother’s wrist. Needless to say, my
father started the car that morning and drove Mother straight to the town infirmary!

I can see you’re fascinated by all this, but livin’ back then, well let’s just say it isn’t
all you imagine it to be. Dangers lurked around every corner at the turn of the century.

You always had to keep your eyes open. God forbid you should step on a rusty nail
or come down with the flu, for that matter. In those days 'us people' called it the grippe.
We had no vaccines back then for nothin’, with the exception of the cowpox, but even
then allergic reactions weren’t unheard of, and in those cases that person usually died.
If someone coughed in the store that had tuberculosis, you could catch it and die Even
an expectant mother had to fear for the worst when delivering a child into the world.

Her voice grew weak as she muttered beneath her breath, “as in the case of my older
sister who I never met. You got sick back then and your parents prayed before taking
you to a doctor. They prayed for my sister, but she passed on in the night, God rest
her soul. She died of rheumatic fever, before I was even thought of. Now they have
vaccines for everything under the sun, but the world has grown colder since my day.

Just look at all the medicines we have today opposed to when I was a little girl.

        Back then, it was a chemist's dream.
We had tonics, bitters, tinctures and liniments;
all to cure everything and none that worked. . .

          They did provide hope though.

I can recall tincture of lavender, tincture of bloodroot, tincture of vanilla, tincture of iodine.”

“My grandmother has that in her medicine cabinet,” I interjected.
“A little
brown glass bottle with an old brown paper label. When I
get a bad scrape, she gets
it. There's a long glass stem on the cap
inside the bottle that she rubs on my cut.”

“And what color is it?”
“And how does it feel?”
“Burns like fire!”

“That's one thing you never forget, the sting of iodine!

I fell once, while running with my friends and tore all the skin off
my knee.
The second that iodine touched me, hoo-eee did I scream!

                                                                               Pg 72

And if I ever felt like I was getting sick, my mother
would give me a warm glass of ginger ale to drink.

I like root beer, but it has to be cold.

Root beer is good, if you wanna throw up!

“Were there a lot of superstitious people in your time?”

“What do you think?
We lived like the Amish folk live today, in a town that
was just beginning to
improve itself. There was nothing but superstitious
minds, influenced by just
about anything. Even the most foolish things
could make one gasp in surprise or
spin out of control. One person told
another and before you knew, it was already
two towns over!”

“Do you remember any?”

“Are you writing a book young man?”

I just might one day,” I said with eyes that sparkled in their own quizzicality.

Well you better remember me in your story, or I will come back to haunt you.”
*She spoke jovially, but in a way that one listening might have interpreted otherwise*

I remember my mother telling me that if a dog is heard howling in the night when
someone is sick, it means that the person who is sick will probably pass away before
sunrise. Never kill a sparrow; if you do you will be cursed for a sparrow carries the
souls of our dearly departed into the next life. Finding the whisker of a cat will bring
untold joy! If you find one, you should hide it in a very safe place and never bring it
into a sunny room. . . Oh there were hundreds of them. We were so silly.”

“How were kids back then?”


“When you were little, how did the other kids act?

“Let’s see, the girls probably teased the boys more than they do
nowadays, and the boys would play their share of practical jokes
on the girls as well, but nothing ever too drastic; if that helps.

Everyone went to church with their family on Sunday, whether they liked
it or not,
and that was the way it was. We had a lot more respect for God
back then, than your
generation has for him today, I'll say that much.”

“You didn't have a television
or radio back then did you?”

“No I didn't and you want to know something, we
didn't need one.
We had each other and we had our friends, and back then that
all that mattered. All these new contraptions, my goodness.

I guarantee you in a few more years, some new gadget will find its way
the market and everyone will have to buy it. We don't have it now,
and we really
don't need it, but I'm sure it'll ease life's burden a bit.”

“What else could they

”They'll make it! You mark my words, they will make it, and do you want
to know something else?
There are still some towns in this country, and by
country I mean America, that don't even have common telephone service.

They're still getting around to it.
Now think of how lucky we are to have had one for so long.”

“What do you do when you feel really bad about
something inside and nothing makes
it go away?”

“You can start by talking about it.” I shook my head while looking down
at the table.
“Sometimes, the way I like to look at things is to imagine the worst case
scenario you
can possibly think of being in, and then putting someone in it. Then you
know what
that person would do? That person would say to himself, this isn't so bad,
and then
he would put somebody in a situation worse than even he is in! Now after
doing this
two or three times you look at your problem, and it isn't really so bad at all
now is it?”

Later that night, I did as Miss Drucella said,
but it only made the problem worse.

“Aren't you afraid of dying,” I asked politely?

“No one should ever be afraid of dyin' child, if they have faith that is.
I think maybe it's because my father would read to me every night
something from the bible. Then if ever I became frightened, he would
have me say aloud, Romans 10:13, and all my fears would subside.
You do know Romans 10:13 don't you?

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,
and then he would say, now not even death can hurt you.”

                                                Peanut Butter Conspiracy - Hold on (to what you've got)

                                                                               Pg 73


Reviews for chapter 14

Marie Asabelli  - Your writing enlightens me

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PG 70) The Brighton water-closet - page removed from an old catalogue -

PG 70) Living through secrets/Terms of precedence
by Nathan Spoor - 

PG 70) Adam and Eve
by Lucas Cranach the elder -

PG 70) The first lesson
by George Baxter -

PG 70) The Model A Ford
advertisement scanned from an old newspaper -

PG 71) LePage's gripspreader mucilage
from Vanessa Le Page's archives -

PG 71) Auto repair (Kodak camera ad)
by Blendon Reed Campbell -

PG 71) Love and six cylinders
from Clarence Underwood -

PG 72) The butter churn
by Charles Petit -

PG 72) Oddment 54
by Leah Palmer Preiss -

PG 72) Dr. Sage's catarrh remedy
extracted from an ad dating back to 1877 -

PG 72) Warner's safe Diabetes cure
circa 1880 -

PG 73) Hires Root Beer advertising sign
that sold for $52,000 at Morphy's -

PG 73) Vintage Hallowee'n card
circa 1904 -

PG 73) Vinegar Valentine's Day card circa 1890's -

PG 73) The telephone
by Stanislav Plutenko -

PG 73) Calvary
by Michael Godard -