Friday, February 12, 2016
Episode 20 - January 1999 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
This series of posts on each Friday, moving forward during 2016 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 are now in January of 1999, in episodic serial format…
Episode 20 - Karen visited Virginia
Karen arrived at the nursing home about a half hour before time for Virginia to have her supper, and Virginia was pleased to have a visitor. Over the years, Karen and Virginia had many long and pleasant conversations, including a number with ‘not so pleasant’ subjects. Karen hoped Virginia was able to remember and speak about years gone by.
Karen: “Jennifer and I were looking at the census reports for 1920 and noticed that it listed an older sister of Mom’s, named Ethel. Did she die? I don’t remember her ever being mentioned.”
Virginia: “No. She didn’t die. She went away, and never came back. Kind of like your sister, Beverly. When she graduated from high school, she wanted to be on Broadway. Her drama coach in high school praised her work too much. In her mind, she was ready to be a pro, and that was the place to do it.
Karen: “What did Joe and Beth, her parents, think about that?”
Virginia: “Oh, they thought that was an awful thing to want to do. They tried to talk her out of it.”
Karen: “How was she able to go, then?”
Virginia: “Well, her coach actually had connections on Broadway, in New York City. He said he knew a place she could stay, and some people she could talk to, to ‘try-out’ for parts in their plays.”
Karen: “Did he offer to pay her way?”
Virginia: “No. But somebody did. None of us knew for sure, but we suspected it might have been her Grandpa, William. He and Charlotte only had the one son, no daughters. When Joe and Beth first had a daughter, Ethel, he really doted over her. She was like a princess to him, it seemed. Mildred and I were much younger, of course, so our view may have been skewed… but that was how we saw it. Mildred was very jealous, needless to say, of the attention Ethel got, and she got only second-hand, left-over, second-grade praise, from him.”
Karen: “That is certainly interesting. You say they never heard from her again?”
Virginia: “Not that I knew of. Mildred never mentioned her again, not once, after Ethel left, that I heard about.”
Karen: “If I counted right, Ethel graduated high school, and left town, in 1929, is that right?”
Virginia: “Yes. That was an awful time. Everyone was so happy that summer. Then Ethel actually left, her parents were upset; Mildred didn’t want to talk about it. Then, in the fall, the stock market crashed. We were afraid our family would lose the family real estate business. With all that going on, I certainly didn’t have any time to think about Ethel, or much else, for that matter. We survived, but those were very tough times, for quite a few years.”
Karen sensed that those memories were upsetting to Virginia, and it was time to close this conversation. Before she left, she had one last question.
Karen: “Jennifer came across one of William’s journals where he mentions a “Snooki” - does that name mean anything to you?”
Virginia: “Oh, yes. "Snooki." That was his ‘special name’ for Ethel!”
Virginia had almost spat out the name “Snooki” it seemed to Karen. She closed her conversation with Virginia not wanting to upset her more.
Karen: “Thank you, so much, Virginia. It is about time for your supper. I appreciate you talking to me. We’ll talk again, another day.”
[To be continued - next Friday]
"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."
Dr. Bill ;-)