Christmas shopping in the Little Village

s1This is going to be an exciting day. I can feel it in my bones. Dad is going to take us to Winnie Hanscom’s house on Rowe Hill really early this morning. Roland, Rex and I are going to visit her and then do our Christmas shopping.

We have just passed Dan Cole’s farm and are climbing the hill. It sure goes on forever and I am glad there are no storms today. The sun is shining bright and it feels warm for this time of year. The roads have been plowed well and the old car seems to be chugging along. I always have a fear of getting stuck and being stranded, but I know Dad has a shovel and some tire chains in the trunk just in case something happens.

Winnie is waiting for us and waves from her upstairs apartment window. She lives upstairs in her mother’s house and her mother, Margaret ( Maggie) and her brother, Wilmer live downstairs. I know she is coming down the stairs to open the door and greet us.

Dad has errands to do and he is already gone! We go up the stairs to the cute little apartment. Her kitchen table is in an alcove at the head of the stairs and next to it , on a stand, is a phonograph. I know Roland likes that as he has wanted one for so long. I don’t think we will have time to play records today.  She has a Mexican face with a big sombrero on the wall and a ball of twine so the twine comes out his mouth. She says she loves anything Mexican and we can see that with the two red plaster peppers on the wall. At least they look like peppers.  On her living-room stand is her Viewmaster. I love to look through the little holes and then click to another picture on the round disk. Oh, I hope we will have time for that later!

Winnie gives us each some milk and a cookie and we all sit and rest before our big outing. Roland has money of his own as he works every minute he can and Rex and I have a few cents to spend. Winnie digs out her big brown purse and hands us each a dollar bill. I am rich! I have never had this much to spend at one time. She laughs and says that is her Christmas present to us and we thank her.

It is about two miles, I guess, to Bryant Pond village. Winnie sets the pace and we walk along with her. She points out where the road is that leads to my Grandfather and Grandmother Libby’s house. She tells us that little dip in the road is called Velvet Hollow, but she says there are many stories how it got its name.  We walk up Townline Hill and before we know it, with all the talking and visiting, we are walking by Birch Villa Inn and realize we are almost into the village. I guess when people are happy visiting, time goes fast and you don’t  notice if your legs are tired or not.

The village is quiet today and we go up the steps into Clarence Cole’s Variety Store. Look at the treasures. There are two or three aisles of things laid out flat so I can see them really well. Winnie tells Mr. Cole that we have come to Christmas shop and he smiles and tells us to take all the time we need and if we have any questions, just ask him. He is a very nice man and very patient as we walk and look and pick up and try to make decisions. I see some very pretty hankies Ma will like and there is a big blue bandana that Dad would like to carry in his pocket to the mill. It is hard to buy for my brothers when they are walking around me, but there is a box of crayons and a coloring book for Curt. When the boys look the other way, I pick up two boxes of pencils for Rex and Roland. Rex keeps track of his baseball scores and his trapping money and Roland is a wonderful artist. He draws lots of pictures with a pencil, so he will like them.

We have been here almost an hour and Winnie has found a seat in the corner of the store and smiles as she watches us. Mr. Cole has taken my brothers’ gifts and he totals it all on paper. They both go out on the little landing in front of the store and that is good. They won’t see their gifts when Mr. Cole adds up what I owe. He smiles and even gives me back some change which I stuff in my coat pocket. Don’t lose it now, he says, as he hands me my bag. Winnie asks if we are ready for the walk home and I guess we are because our hands are full!

The sun has gone a little lower in the sky, so it isn’t quite as warm on the walk home, but Winnie says we will keep warm by walking and she is right. Up the first hill, down Townline Hill, through Velvet Hollow and soon we know around the bend is her house. We all go back upstairs and the warmth of the house makes our cheeks smart.

Winnie tells us to come into the kitchen and take a handful of chocolate chips from her big jar. Meanwhile she says she will make us some hot cocoa to warm us all up. That will taste sooo good because they have their own cows and this will not be made with the canned milk Ma has to use.  It is nice and warm and we all smack our lips. She has put some tiny marshmallows on top and that is a real treat.  Just when I think it cannot be any better, Winnie reaches into her purse and brings out three candy canes she bought at Mr. Cole’s when we were not looking.

Dad will be here soon to take us home.  What a wonderful day we have had!  My legs are awful tired, but I have a bag full of wonderful gifts.

They don’t make many people as nice as Winnie.

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