BY-WAYS -9/25/41 - The Landlord

Would you like to meet our landlord? No, I know you don't want to rent this house - not 'til it gets a coat of paint on the outside, and a new layer of paper on the back bedroom (and a few other things). But I thought you might like to meet a "character," whose early life study would make an interesting book. Later on I must tell you some of the yarns he brings back from Florida, where he spends all his winters, tra-la. For obvious reasons I'll not give his full name - (Mr. Tucker - MEY) though his first name is quite revealing, and I may yet be sued for libel. However - here goes - and let the chips fall where they may. Mr. T's first name is Eldoras - a rarity indeed. Nowhere, in all his travels, has he met or heard of another Eldoras. My husband wanted to rent this house in the first place for two reasons; 1. Because it is laid out like his old home. 2. Because he took a sentimental fancy to the square-rigged, straight-shooting old gentleman who is our landlord. The first winter here froze out all of Virgil's sentiment for Mr. T.; and, as the wallpaper groweth shabbier, so groweth Virgil's respect - downward, like a banyan tree. But the boys love it here; they have their "gang" - as thick right now as peas in a pod. It would break their hearts to leave. So, here we are - prisoners of Babylon - under the rule of Eldoras. He ruleth with an iron hand. Not one cent doth he spend for repairs (if he can help it). If the mechanism in the toilet bowl refuseth to work, he fixeth it with a bit of rusty wire. If the hot water tank leaketh, he pluggeth it. Mr. T. should never have been our landlord - for he keeps our emotions all mixed up. If we didn't have to do business with him - and plead and scold, and threaten for every nail and screw and drop of paint, we would really be fond of him. Mr. T. is honest, upright, devoted to his wife and only daughter, kind to children, with a physical and moral courage that stirs admiration. Nearly eighty years of age, he climbs around on houses and repairs everything from chimneys to coal bins. Being a carpenter by trade and a miser by nature, he refuses to hire anyone else to repair the leaking roof of the hole-y screen on any of the eight houses he owns on this street.

We disgruntled tenants get together - drawn close by that common bond of misery - and compare notes, and find that we are in complete accord as to the status quo of our landlord. But the rent is moderate, stays put, while all other rents are soaring. So we fix our own faucets, paint our own bathrooms, and hold our tongues (in his presence). Mr. T. was born in the early days of the Civil War. (Think of it.) His father was a colonel, leading a Michigan regiment. Knowing that Mr. T. was left, an orphan, in infancy, I asked him if his father died on the battlefield. "No," he replied. "During a lull in the war my father came home on furlough. We lived on a farm; he went to the barn one morning. Pretty soon he came back, holding his side. He said to my mother, 'Mary, I think I've busted a gut.' He died that night." (With a burst appendix, his son believes). At this point in his narrative I was frying eggs, and lost a thread or two of the conversation. I find I am hazy about his mother's death. So this must be a continued story, the sequel to appear after October 1, rent day, when he is sure to be here. Speaking of eggs, I recall how shocked he was at my extravagance - frying two eggs, worth four cents apiece - for his lunch. He was repairing our coal-bin (after two years' coaxing) and found it a much bigger job than he expected. But his life story is worth several lunches.

Did you ever have the experience, as a child, of asking God for help, and having an immediate answer to that prayer? I recall - as if it were yesterday - losing a comb in a pile of loose hay on the barn floor. It was such a precious comb - of tortoise-shell, that curved in a half circle around the head, and made a little woman's' hair a "crown of glory." Remember, girls? After searching for some time, in vain, I said, "Oh, Heavenly Father, if you'll show me where my comb is, I'll get down on my knees and thank You." (As if that were a great concession on my part). I was led, at once, to my treasure. Never was there more fervent prayer of thanks than was offered up on that pile of hay. This past week the same experience was repeated. The place and the object were different, but the same Heavenly Father answered my plea. I had been searching, to the point of desperation, for a little Christmas play on which I was to report that evening. The egg man came, and interrupted my self-directed search. I remember so well, as I was putting the eggs in the ice-box, saying (about the book), "Well, I'll just have to leave it in the Lord's hands." Without one moment's search, He led me, straightaway, to that book. It was such a revelation of God's nearness and goodness - even to a careless housekeeper - that I feel I must share it with you. We work so hard, and with such futility, without Him - when He is just waiting, to take our hands, and lead us. Won't you share your experiences - small or great? Anonymously, if you wish. My needs were trifles. Your experience might change a whole life.

Florence B. Taylor

Next -10/2/41 - The Wilsons. The Forest Primeval