Young Love Gone Wrong

Jailbird

For 20 years, they were deliriously happy…. Then they met.
Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.     😳

Once upon a time, I lost a girlfriend. It wasn’t a century ago, but it was well back in the last century.

When I graduated high school, I moved 100 miles away to take my first job. It wasn’t long before it was apparent – at least to me – that the long-distance romance wasn’t going to work. Jeff Foxworthy speaks of, “If she hasn’t yet saddled up and ridden a new horse, she’s at least pulled one from the barn, and put a bridle on him.” My friends never mentioned that to me. I broke it off – by letter – just before Christmas. She wasn’t lonely for long.

I had just turned 19. Her new beau was almost 21. He had a job as a mechanic. He made more money than I did. He had a car. She traded up – or did she??! The new fella was the kind described as ‘known to police.’ She had a 16-year-old younger brother. By Valentine’s Day, he had sold the kid a switchblade knife – probably a $3/$4 piece of junk, that he charged $5 for.

The home was ruled by a nasty, judgmental mother, only one reason I decided to call it quits. All 6 of the children were a bit sharp – or brittle – especially this youngest, with something to prove. He couldn’t attract a girlfriend, but wanted to go to the high school’s big Easter Dance.

Since he didn’t have a partner, he asked the new boyfriend if he could provide a little liquid courage. Back then, you had to be 21 to purchase alcohol, but he knew a fellow, and provided a Mickey (13 Oz.) of lemon gin. The kid spiked his own punch at the party, and was soon roaring drunk – yelling and swearing, and pawing girls.

The science teacher, the male chaperone, approached him, and told him that he must leave. This was his first drinking experience. He didn’t know how to act. He loudly insisted that he would not leave. The teacher reached to take his arm or shoulder, to escort him out…. and he pulled the switchblade!

If he had just left, everything would have quietly disappeared. Now they had to call the cops! He wasn’t arrested, but they confiscated the knife, and called his parents to pick him up. The policeman asked him where he’d got the knife, and the liquor. Too immature to keep his mouth shut, he quickly named the new boyfriend.

The next day, they pulled him over. With probable cause, they searched the car, found an unopened case of beer in the trunk, and charged him with underage possession.

Our town was a ‘County Town,’ not the county capital. That was 30 miles away. We got a circuit judge, and every Wednesday was court day. Nicknamed the Hangin’ Judge, he had seen the evils of Demon Rum, and had a hatred for alcohol. This was Carrie Nation’s husband.

I don’t know whether he came to hate booze before, or because, he became a judge. The latter was quite possible, with all the drunken tourists, and drunken Indians from the nearby reservation.

The boyfriend pled guilty, and the misdemeanor penalty was a fine, and a criminal record. The judge wanted to get higher up this bootlegging ladder, and demanded to know where he had got the beer. “I found it in a ditch.” “Well, I hope you found a month down there with it, ‘cause you’re going to do 30 days in the county slammer.”

He’d kept quiet about his supplier, but, even sober, he just couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “Hell, I can do 30 days, standin’ on my head.” “That’s contempt of court. Here’s another 30 days, to get you back on your feet.” Suddenly that Archon boy was looking real good – but I was long gone.

’19 A To Z Challenge – Q

AtoZ2019letter-q

 

 

 

 

 

 

I once lived next door to a bootlegger.

Now that I’ve put up the attention-grabbing click-bait for the WordPress reader, this post will be about

QUILTS

and a bunch of other things. Wear your hiking shoes. This will be a longer trek than usual.

Mennonite

I live in the middle of Mennonite territory. With no TV, quilting is a way of life, and financial support. When I first came to town, I lived for about a year and a half, in a boarding house, run by a New Order Mennonite woman. She bought it with, “a settlement from my husband.” Like a lady’s age, I never asked if it was through death or divorce.

It was not unusual, especially in the winter, to come home to find the table pushed over to the edge of the huge, old kitchen, and four tiddly women, – her, her mother, and two friends from up the street – a couple of empty, home-made elderberry wine bottles and four crystal sherry glasses, in front of a quilting frame.

My father used to go out for 2 or 3 hours in the evenings, Monday to Friday. Back before TV, my mother made me a quilt, all by herself, with no frame. It kept me warm in bed, in our old, drafty, hard-to-heat house. How I wish I still had it! She also used to take threadbare clothing and bed sheets, tear them in strips, braid them into a ‘rope,’ and sew it together into an oval floor mat, to keep my feet warm on cold mornings.

The old lady’s house was at the bottom of a steep, block-long hill. There was a stop sign, at a one-way street. With the main street easily visible, a short block ahead, surprising numbers of drivers just didn’t stop. We had an accident a week, and a serious accident every month.

My brother rented parking on a tiny driveway on the uphill side. He left to go home one summer Friday afternoon. He had not been gone an hour, when there was a screech, and a huge crash. I looked out my front window, to see a car parked in his spot – upside-down.

The old lady complained about having to rake, and clean leaves out of the eaves trough, from the two stout Maple trees that stood on either side of the front door. I asked why she didn’t have them taken down. She replied, “Have you seen the scars on those trees??! If they weren’t there, one of those cars would be in your bedroom.”

It was a rough section of town back then – drunks, druggies, hookers. A prospering bootlegger lived the other side of the one-way street. One evening he accompanied a good customer out to the sidewalk – just as there was another terrific car crash, only, this time, the upside-down car was deflected his way, and crushed him.

Recently, with the installation of the LRT street railroad, and urban renewal, that old, brick, century-home has been turned into a Pupuseria, an El Salvadoran restaurant serving meat-and-cheese stuffed corn pancakes. I went in one day, to see if it was worth taking the wife to, and got into a conversation with the owner. (Of course I did!)

I mentioned that I had lived across the street, a half-century before, and told him about the bootlegger and his death. A little light went on. When they were moving in, and had to clean out the basement for their own storage, there had been hundreds of empty beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

Quilt 1

But, back to the quilts. The local Mennonites have organized a Mennonite Relief Committee to raise money for less fortunate Mennonites, especially in South America. They have a second-hand, recycling store, but their biggest money-maker is the annual spring quilt auction.

Quilt 3 (2)

Well-to-do people come from all over the world to bid, both in person, and now, online. These quilts draw fabulous prices, especially the winner of the judging contest, which can go for $10,000 or more.

Quilt 2
This year’s featured quilt at the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale, Little Brown Church, has been described as a giant puzzle with more than 3,000 pieces.

Quilting