BY-WAYS -1/30/41 -Two-gun "Pete." Mr. Wilson, the Scotchman -

Editor: Readers of this column and friends of Mrs. Taylor will be interested to learn that she will fill this space every week instead of her usual semimonthly letters. ***

Hi-yo! Silver! Here comes rootin', tootin', shootin' two-gun Pete. "Stick 'em up, fellows! See this gun? It's got blank shells. See this one? It's loaded. Look out, everybody. Bang. Bang. Yippee!" Where are we anyway? Out in old Wyoming? Naw, right here on Lilac Road. But he's a real cowboy - ten-gallon hat (well, ten half-pints, anyway), fancy shirt, leather chaps, snazzy holsters, 'n'everything - including two guns. (The handsomest cowboy this side of Green Gulch). His name is Ronnie and he's five years old and he got this suit for Christmas as well as two others and he could ride any horse they gave him and he's a dead shot and you'd better look out - so there! Ronnie, the neighborhood terror, came to stay with me while his mother went to the hospital, to be with the father, who had an operation that morning. After his spectacular and pseudo-blood-curdling entrance, and his mother's departure, Ronnie was a lamb. You couldn't ask for a better boy. What a mind. He simply devours knowledge; if that mind isn't kept busy, it's just sure to plot mischief. So I kept Ronnie busy - writing to his father, drawing, painting, etc. He knows all his letters. He "dictated" his letter; I told him how to spell his words; he did the rest. He investigated and experimented with everything in the play-drawer, but, with a marvelous sense of order, put everything away without being told. We had an early lunch. He was very polite - but also very frank. He didn't think I was as good a cook as his mother. We decided to go upstreet for his dessert. (I was running out of entertainment ideas). He was very considerate about the dessert. "I'll take an ice cream cone if you can afford it." Just as we were ready to go, Ronnie's mother arrived. That was the most unpsychological moment for her to return. Her small son staged a scene that was a wow. He made one think of a juvenile Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde. Problem child? Not yet. Just a problem mother. (I hope he got his promised ice cream cone before he went to afternoon kindergarten).***

This was my day for entertaining my gentlemen friends. Father Taylor came in the afternoon, to share some mail with Virgil and me. He is a truly kind and gallant gentleman. Seventy-five years old, he is as hale and hearty as a man of fifty. He thinks nothing of walking six or eight miles in an afternoon. (That's the English in him). While he was here, a Scotchman and a Welshman arrived - to talk about a possible upholstery job. It was great fun to listen to these three natives of the British Isles. They had a back-patting fest, while I went right on with my upholstering. Oh, yes, Dad told these men that it was like "bringing coals to Newcastle" (England) to offer their upholstering services to this family. (More about that later). Mr. Wilson, the Scotchman, is one of the most interesting persons I ever met. Sixty-eight years old - fifty-two years in this country, he still carries a little of the burr that he brought from Edinburgh. Tall, erect, white-haired, with a face so kindly that Dad mistook him for a preacher, just as I did three days before, when he was here. That gave him a great laugh - for he has "roughed it" the world over. Sent by the American Railway Construction Co. to South Africa, he fought in the Boer war - on the side of the English. Some of his gang, in sympathy with the Boers' fight for freedom, got on the other side. It was a great skirmish. While working for a Wall Street bonding company, he was sent to China, at the time of the Boxer Rebellion. He got into that, too. I would love to know - and give you - more details; but, of course, we had to talk upholstery eventually. I am sure Mr. Wilson's stories are bona fide, for he carries, first of all, the face of a clergyman, and, besides that, two big scars - one on his hand, where a bayonet passed through; the other on his head, where a bullet whistled through his scalp, "leaving a fur-r-row, which is now a r-ridge." Mr. Wilson, ex-soldier, world traveller, Wall Street financier, is behind the President 100% in his lend-lease plan. Cognizant of German intrigue and lust for world power, Mr. W. feels that we should consider this a real emergency and rush every possible financial and armament aid to Britain.

As for the upholstery angle, I wanted terribly to have them do a certain chair for me. They were to call up the first of the week - after I talked it over with Virgil. I don't know whether they considered me a formidable competitor or a poor financial risk; I never did hear from them again. By the way, would any of you ladies like to have some upholstering done? Come to Lilac Road. We women are organizing the "Menace to Men Upholsterers." My next-door neighbor likes my davenport so much (and the economic angle still better) that she has started the upholstering of her husband's favorite chair (therefore, the one most worn). Her friends are so impressed that several of them are planning to do the same stunt. Avast, ye mere men! ***

One more bit of news before I close. I wanted to tell you last time that we have a puppy. When I called Daddy Virgil about Buster, we both said, grimly, "No more dogs. It hurts too much to give them up." Before the day was out, I was negotiating for a puppy - to ease the pain in young hearts. At first the boys felt it a desecration to allow any other pet in that shrine. But, fortunately, youthful grief, though bitter, is brief. That night Estelle took the boys to get this 7-weeks-old pup - half collie, half shepherd. We forked over five dollars out of the housekeeping fund, and went on short rations for the next five days. But the little rascal is already worth it. He has real dog-charm. Barney is his name, sir. *** If you only knew how much I appreciate the notes that some of you write, more of you would write - if only to disagree with me.

Faithfully yours,
Florence B. Taylor

Next -2/6/41 - A Touch of Adolescence