BY-WAYS - 1/23/47 - Virge's 21st Birthday

Last Tuesday the BY-WAYS began to pay California dividends - which, like all California products, are large and luscious. A delightful lady, Miss Adda Hainer, formerly of Ingram, Pa., paid me a visit. Two Press readers, one from Clarksburg, Pa. and one from Miami, Fla. - who may wish to remain anonymous - suggested that she do so. To these two friends of hers I am most grateful. For it is like finding a real gem amongst colored and ill-cut glass. Here is a woman who, living alone, could be very lonely and self-centered. But she has a hundred interests, the keenest her Presbyterian church and fellowship there, and fills her days with stimulating reading and association with thoughtful, progressive people. She lives on Chestnut - right in the next block. I mean to cultivate her friendship. That is, if she can forgive and forget the cluttered room, with two freshly baked pumpkin pies on our small dining table, a dresser, whose top is a combination tonsorial salon, perfume counter, jewelry counter, and art gallery, with Virgil's ties draped over one end of the mirror; an overflowing linen chest, a crowded book-case; a bed adorned with extra sheets and blankets just returned by a departing guest, several rolls of toilet paper, just delivered by a tenant who is a zealous shopper - plus my own heterogeneous mass of letters, folders, bills, clippings. Oh, dear! Now, don't you tell her, because she is so much a lady that she saw only the pies. And if I had been half a hostess, I would have given her a wedge, with a cup of tea.

There are so many interesting things to tell you - I hardly know where to begin. But on this lovely sun-kissed Saturday afternoon I beg your indulgence while I tell you about a certain young man who will reach his twenty-first birthday on the 21st of this month. I have known his mother many years - more years than I care to tell - for we have been friends, off and on, all our lives. His father, whom I have known for almost thirty years, is, in rooming-house parlance, a "peach of a guy." It is for his sake, as well as the mother's that I give you this little character sketch of their son who is almost a man, and then ask you, if you feel so disposed, to send the lad a greeting. Let's call him "Dick," just for brevity and temporary anonymity. He was a much-wanted child - and, more than that, a much-wanted boy, for the expected boy - five years earlier - turned out to be a girl. Great was the rejoicing in all the "Martin" family when that Boy arrived - the first to carry on the family name. He was a blessing, right from the start Dick must be named for his father, of course - his mother's wish. Then she, who had never cared a hoot about her "ancestors" until her own children arrived, saddled the boy with the middle name of "Putnam," named after his great-great-great grandfather Rufus Putnam, of Revolutionary fame. The Boy never liked his moniker, and to all comers he is just plain "Doc." Brown-eyed, like his father, he was a beautiful baby, with the almost-angelic disposition of his paternal grandmother. He was and is the apple of her eye to this day. At the age of two he welcomed a baby brother, and at the age of three became a devoted guardian, "driving" the baby around by the hour in his little red wagon. The next year he was alternately teaching "Chollie" his "Now I lay me" and branding him, "Bad boy, bad boy." In the meantime Big Sister was wishing that she had a baby sister. "Boys are too scramptious," she sighed. Every birthday was a major holiday. When the 6th arrived, he brought home about five buddies from school - his guests, by his personal invitation, for dinner.

An event that stands out in his mother's memory is the breaking of a huge living-room window. The boys, then eight and six, were playing with yo-yos. Accidentally the younger boy let his fly against the window - to break it. To him it was an accident. To "Dick," it meant financial loss to his parents. That night, when the parents went to bed, pinned to the mother's pillow was a dollar bill, the sum total of Dick's wordly wealth, and a note, "Money - to help pay for the window." That note is still kept among the family keepsakes. It was Dick who bought the family Christmas tree with his first earnings as a paper boy at the age of ten. He then established a precedent - that the children in the home become the real Santa Clauses. Now the column grows lengthy - and I have barely begun my character sketch. And being an amateur, I have ill disguised the fact that "Dick" is our own son, Virgil. I know it's not in the best of taste to write about your own children, let alone brag so. But this is a special birthday. And, somehow, Virgil is a special boy. He has given out so much of himself - unselfishly - without stint. He was all alone for Christmas. Most of his buddies were shipped elsewhere. He will be away from family and friends for his 21st birthday. If, in these eight years, I have given you even a tiny spark of inspiration or pleasure, will you give back my richest reward - a word of inspiration or just "good wishes" to one of my jewels? Virgil is now stationed in the hospital pharmacy - the mecca of his army dream. His address: Pfc. Virgil P. Taylor, 450-258-88, Sqdn. E-1,Fort George Wright, Wash.

Ever gratefully,
Florence B. Taylor.

Next - 1/30/47 - Father Taylor's Passing
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