Friday, October 23, 2015
Chapter 4, Episode 7 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We now move into January of 1999, in novel format…
Chapter 4 - Christopher; Episode 7
Usually a very positive person, attorney Christopher Ogden paced back and forth across his office this late afternoon, unable to shake off the foreboding feelings surrounding him this cold January day. Often, he found, getting up and walking back and forth was helpful to clear his mind. It wasn’t working, today, however. He had already made a trip to the restroom, gotten a drink of water, and walked into the law library and back. Those hadn’t worked either.
From the water fountain, he had noticed Edith Brown at her desk, talking quietly with an elderly couple. They were vaguely familiar to Christopher, but he couldn’t recall their names off the top of his head. He was so pleased that they had created the new position for Edith. She had been secretary to his father, Carter Ogden, for all those many years that Christopher had been growing up, and many years before that, as well. She possessed a wealth of legacy knowledge of local history, as well as the law firm, and was totally dedicated to her work in the law offices. Don had suggested her new role, and Christopher and Brian were pleased that she accepted it.
In reorganizing the office staff following his father’s death, a little over two years earlier, they made several changes that seemed small at the time but had each paid dividends in their work lives since. Among them was ‘updating’ titles from secretary to administrative assistant, for example, that other firms had done over the past decade or more. As part of that process, they had made Edith an Executive Assistant. Christopher’s ‘secretary,’ Joan, had become an Administrative Assistant, for example.
Edith’s new role was to proactively interact with the older clients of the firm. As Carter’s secretary, she knew them all well, from meeting and greeting them over the years. You don’t normally see law firm clients every year. Among her responsibilities was to see that each former client was invited to come in to talk to her, to update their family and business situation, at no cost to them. If their conversation suggested legal work might be appropriate, they would then meet with one of the attorneys. While Don was older, he had still only been with the firm for about 12 years. Christopher was in his fifth year, and Brian was in his third. Many firms hired a new attorney to handle this type of business, to keep new business coming in. Christopher thought Don’s recommendation was genius, in this distinctive case. Local people found they enjoyed coming to visit with Edith. Edith enjoyed meeting with them, and she recorded the new information she obtained in the records of the firm, meticulously. They were pleasantly surprised at how much new business this activity generated. It certainly more than paid the cost of her doing it by a large margin.
In the few months Christopher was able to spend with his father after they learned that he was terminally ill, there were a number of things Carter had suggested that Christopher do, when he had the time, that would be useful to him at some point in the future. Thinking about Edith just now, Christopher was reminded there were a couple of things on that list Carter had suggested that they had not yet done, because no specific reason had come up to do it. One of them was for Christopher and Edith to go over to the bank storage area to familiarize Christopher with what records were there, and how they were organized. The records there went back to near the start of the century. Carter had said ‘you never know’ when you will need something critically useful from the past. A visit ahead of time would save precious time, later, when that critical need arose. No ‘critical need’ had arisen yet, so he still had time to do it, he reminded himself. He walked over to his desk to write down a reminder.
A moment later, his phone rang. It was Jennifer....
During their conversation, Jennifer told Christopher about the William McDonald journal Sarah had found and did mention to Christopher the information Diane had shared about their aunt Beverly being back in town, to stay, per that conversation. Christopher thanked Jennifer for the information, adding that he had not heard about Beverly yet, himself. As he was hanging up the phone, Christopher thought about how well all of the members of the extended family shared important family and family business information with each other. He recalled his father mentioning that Jason, Karen’s husband, had been a big advocate of this in the early days of the Bevins Trust. The practice had continued, down through the years. Christopher felt this was one small contributor to the success the Bevins family had achieved over those years.
Joan buzzed him before Christopher could turn away from the phone. She said that while he was talking to Jennifer that he had had a call from someone she didn’t recognize. She said the man didn’t want to wait, and, he refused to have her interrupt Christopher’s conversation. He had said his name was Bruce Randolph, and he was calling about the McDonald Conservancy. He would not leave a number to return a call. She said the man seemed anxious, but, still didn’t want to leave any message. Christopher wrote the name down as they talked. He didn’t recognize it either.
[To be continued - next Friday]
"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."
Dr. Bill ;-)