Today I am so excited. I have looked forward to this day for weeks. Every year the mill where Ma and Dad works has what they call a “Field Day” for all the workers. I always hope that Dad will decide to go because there are times when he says it is too far.
The field day is held in Bear Pond Park in North Turner and yes, it is a long ride. When we got up this morning, Dad was sipping his coffee and glancing out the window. The sky is grey and there are a few drops of rain..a drizzle he calls it. I don’t think it is that much of a drizzle, but Curt and I wait and say nothing. Finally he says he doesn’t know if we should drive that far and find pouring rain or not. Ma tosses her apron on the back of the kitchen chair and says perhaps it isn’t raining in Turner. Well, I just hold my breath and wonder if we are going or not. Even if it rains, it won’t be raining in my favorite place at the park. It is so quiet I can hear the clock ticking on the wall. Finally Dad says, ok, let’s give it a try, but if it is raining, we are turning right around and coming home.
Weeks ago, we were given a choice of having chicken or lobster for our meal and all of us always choose chicken. I have never had lobster and Ma says it would be too hard for Curt and me to get into and eat. Well, chicken I know and I know how to eat it!
We pile into the back seat of the car and start down Route 26 and up over into North Paris. By this time, I am wishing the car could sprout wings and just get there. It is such a long way through Sumner , West Sumner and on and on. We’ll be there before long, Ma turns and says. She senses that we are getting tired and impatient but knows we won’t say a word as Dad wants it quiet when he is driving.
The clouds are parting and the sun is peeking out. I poke Curt and we grin at each other just as Bear Pond Park comes in sight. There is my favorite place!! There is the roller rink!!! I cannot wait for it to open and the music to begin! I have the money to rent the skates and will try my darndest to not fall down or break a bone.
Dad parks the car and he is off to find his friends. Ma gives us each a dollar and goes to hunt up Aunt Norma as they are going to perform a little skit of songs and jokes sometime during the day on a makeshift stage. She has a costume she has sewn so she will look like someone coming out of the mountains with a moonshinejug.
Curt and I cross the road to the Ferris wheel. The roller rink hasn’t opened so we decide to ride. On we get and around and around we go looking way over the pond as it goes over the top. Oh, boy, now we have stopped at the top. We are waiting for someone to get on and I wish they would hurry! I do not like heights, but I feel so much happier than I did a few months ago, that I am not saying a word.
I think Ma was glad we could come today because it wasn’t that long ago when I was very sad. It came during a time when Ma was laid off, so she was home that Friday when I got off the school bus. I came into the kitchen and Ma was at the cupboard rolling out some biscuits. She brushed her hands together and the flour flew in the sunlight from the window. I put my lunch bag down and she said, I want you to sit down, San. Well, I thought, whatever for. I have chores to do and I don’t sit in the kitchen chairs, ever, except to eat. I want you to sit down, she repeated it again. I don’t know where Rex and Curt went. All I remember is how Ma wanted me to sit and I thought, now what have I done. Ma sat down next to me and said I have some bad news for you. What is she talking about, I thought. Has something happened to Dad? No. The boys would be here too. Your friend, Gladys Bailey, has died. I remember that her voice sounded as though it was coming from a barrel. What do you mean, Ma? She’s coming home this week end and I am going down to see her. I always go on week ends. No, San, you don’t understand. She was walking across the street in South Paris and was hit by a car. She died. She won’t be coming any more. The words kind of jumbled up in my brain and were swirling around . I wouldn’t be walking down and visiting Gladys any more week ends. Where did she go when she died? She wouldn’t be hiding a pen or a pin behind her back and making me guess what she had brought me for a surprise. How many years had I visited her every week end? I remember Ma saying are you all right, San? I just got up and walked out the house and went and sat on my favorite rock in the woods by the pond. I didn’t cry because Gladys would not have wanted me to cry. I watched the boats go by and after awhile I just went home. That week end I stayed by my bed in the attic and read, so I wouldn’t think about not visiting her.
Now the days have passed and the hurt is not as bad. I am beginning to feel happy again and I am at one of my most favorite places in the world. Curt grabs my arm and says here we go again. Round and round we go until it is time for us to get off.
Time for us to line up for our dinners and we all dig into the chicken. Suddenly from across the road, the door opens, the music begins and the roller rink is open. I grab Curt and we run across the road. Curt will watch while I try to skate around and around. He laughs when one leg goes one way and the other has a mind of its own and I grab the side of the rink. I love the music so I keep going until my whole body goes in one direction!
Ma and Aunt Norma have everyone in stitches doing their skit over in the field while others play softball. It is a good day. Gladys would be proud that I am smiling again.