BY-WAYS - 8/8/40 - Building the "Hut". Betty's "City of Dreams"

Tuesday, July 23 - Feverish building activities are going on in our midst. The boys are building another hut. This is to be strictly a summer cottage - built of orange crates. What latent powers there are within the boys, who, to paraphrase Whittier, "creeping slow to dish-washing, go storming out to building." I have to watch, or the tools are left to gather "the evening dews and damps." Our back yard is a combination of lumber yard and that of a wrecking company. Our baby, next door, aged two, thought he would help - and proceeded to break my yardstick into "reasonable" lengths. Blood blisters are proudly displayed, as badges of service.

Wednesday - There is a story (I wish I could get hold of it - since only the germ of it has been given me) of a man who dreamed for years of visiting a certain beautiful city. It became the Mecca of his desires. He finally had the wherewithal to go, and set forth toward his earthly Paradise. Nearer and nearer came the city of his dreams. Just as he was within sight of it, he took sick and died. The analogy to that has come in the experience of my dear, sick friend. Nine years ago she gave up an excellent office position to go home (on the farm) and take care of her sick mother. Her mother died. Betty lost her job for good, Nearly nine years of heart-breaking bad luck, working for firms that gave her only promises, persisting, in the face of utter discouragement, toward a higher goal. She mastered the stenotype three years ago, only to learn that nobody wanted her. Fighting ill health and financial worry, she did housework, still keeping her eyes lifted to her "city of dreams." Today, as she lies in the hospital, hopelessly ill of cancer, the call came to her old rooming house - to fill a position as instructor of stenotype. Oh, the ghastly irony of it! But, thank God, she will yet reach the "City of her dreams."

Friday - Madam Croesus (Estelle, in our family) came home with her first pay. It does wonders to a young person - to be self-sustaining. Do I imagine that her father's shoulders are squaring a little? There is a decided slump in the building industry - due to a shortage of crates. And just when the adult carpenters across the street became interested in the boys' enterprise, and gave them tar paper and special nails. The young builders have gotten on each other's nerves - and the leading architect has gone home in a huff.

Saturday - The currant season is about over. The boys and I set out, determined to find some currants. (A glass of currant jelly lasts one day at our house). We found a place, not so far from home, where we could pick what was left. The owner, a carpenter-by-trade-and-farmer-in between, trimmed out his bushes, many of which were loaded with the luscious red fruit; we all sat down on the grass to pick them. It was fun. It seemed good to talk to a farmer again. He is 67 years old. When we finished, and "eased" out of our cramped postures, he said, "Golly, when I was young, I could clear a five foot fence, and hand-spring up onto a hay-wagon; now, I get up off the ground like a cow." I told him how young he looked; but it didn't do a bit of good. He charged just as much for the berries as do the roadside merchants. However, the next neighbor invited us to help ourselves to all that we could find; that they were tired picking and this latter crop was really choice. We picked over the currants and cooked them right after supper.

Sunday - Too lazy, and too stiff to go to church. (Isn't that a feeble excuse?) My sick friend was all primed for me. The house doctor had told her everything; so she wants to go home "where I can see Johnnie" (her brother). She made all her plans, just as quietly and serenely as if she were setting her house in order before a trip. God does give great courage to those whom "He chasteneth."

Monday - The weather continues unbearably hot. We were all on edge tonight. When I announced, with the air of a martyr, that no wonder I was tired - I got up at 5 o'clock to make jelly - Daddy Virgil gave a deprecating laugh, and bid me not look for any sympathy - that each fellow was too full of his own miseries.

Tuesday - I'm raising our boys to be good husbands. Virgil has become an expert ironer, and Charlie, a bed-maker. (I know I'll be sworn to secrecy about their accomplishments when the time comes for them to go in double harness).

Wednesday - Announcing an increase in the family! It's a boy - according to Virgil and Charlie - and his name is Oscar. Oscar doesn't talk, as yet, but he can walk - though very slowly. He is very shy and retiring - and especially afraid of Buster, our collie with a little bit of chow. Oscar is the only member of the family who keeps cool this weather. He takes frequent dips in his "pool." The boys found him on the road, going to band practice. Oscar can't play as yet - only with Buster, who is just as much afraid of him, as he is of Buster. Oscar is twelve years old, according to his shell formation. Oh, yes, I forgot to say that Oscar is a turtle. Now, all building plans are switched, to accommodate Oscar.

Monday, July 29 - Betty, our sick friend, made the long journey by ambulance to her home near Cincinnati. There were two drivers, and I went along as her "nurse." That Cadillac invalid coach was so smooth - it was more like an airplane than anything on wheels. We made the trip in seven and one-half hours. Betty stood the trip marvelously, buoyed up by the prospect of seeing her loved ones. The trip, that I dreaded intensely, was really a happy experience. So shall - or should be - the final journey that we all must take.

Florence B. Taylor

Next - 9/1/40 - The Country Child