Well, it has been an interesting summer job for sure. Each morning when I arrive at Miss Hobbs’ home, I have no idea what is going to be in store for me. Lucky, the dog, more or less stays out of my way and follows her around.
Last week was a milestone in my career. Early in the morning, Miss Hobbs announced she had three lady friends coming for lunch and I would help prepare and serve. Now that was a wakening. The most I had ever served in my life was a lunch for Curt and me and that usually consisted of peanut butter and crackers or a jam sandwich. Well, I would just have to go along with whatever she said to do and say several silent prayers.
We were to have a salad. Not just any salad, mind you, but one with fancy cut baby carrots and cherry tomatoes shaped like tiny roses…mercy. Well, if I succeeded with this, I would have something to tell Ma. I washed the lettuce carefully and laid it like little cup shaped fancies first. Miss Hobbs stood over my shoulder, her cigarette smoke wafting down and settling in a cloud under my nose. I prayed again. This prayer was for not sneezing on the salad. There! Four glass salad plates with little cups of lettuce, two tiny carrots slices to one side, two tomato rose buds. Guess that was to be the first course of this casual luncheon, which was how Miss Hobbs described it. Next came the sandwiches. Cucumber sandwiches. Now I like those, but I want gobs of mayonnaise on mine. With her instructions and cigarette smoke, I made sandwiches, cut off the crusts, cut them in four tiny decorative pieces and on and on. I could feel her breath on my neck as I cut the crusts. I know she thought I would do a butcher job on them, but luck was with me. After all, if I can clean a fish and skin it properly, what’s so hard about cutting the crust off a piece of bread?
Surprise! Miss Hobbs announced she was doing the dessert, which would consist of some sort of gelatin, coffee and marshmallows all whipped together. I was so glad I brought my lunch that day and could eat by myself on the other side of the house.
But today is another day! No fancy luncheons to prepare which is my least favorite thing to do. Miss Hobbs mind is fixated on her roses. She has only Jackson Perkins roses and wants them fertilized and watered on a regular basis. They are beautiful,but today her brow is furrowed and she is absolutely upset over something. She keeps going to the window and peering out at her roses and mumbles that it has been dry, but the roses have been watered, so why don’t they look as striking as usual? Not being a gardener or knowing much about roses, I shake my head and admit I don’t know. Suddenly her hand sweeps into the air and it is as though a light is shining. It’s the fertilizer, she says. My Miracle-Gro should have been here last week. No wonder they look drab. Why hasn’t it arrived? It should have been at the railroad station in Bryant Pond a week ago.
Wait right here, Sandra, she says. Up the stairs she sweeps, Lucky at her heels. She turns for a moment and hollers down, as soon as I am dressed properly, we are going to the Bryant Pond railroad station. No, no, no. That means one thing. She said “we” and that means she will be backing the 1931 Packard out of the garage and I will be in the passenger seat. I have heard horror stories from Winnie on Miss Hobbs’ and her driving.
I stand outside the garage and direct her in backing up. This car is so long, it looks like a bus. I stop her just short of the stone wall, aid her in turning and get the car headed in the right direction. I climb into the passenger seat and I have to admit that I have never seen such a luxurious car inside. The seat is so comfortable that I feel like I am floating on air. Miss Hobbs assumes an aristocratic pose behind the wheel with her gloves clutching the wheel. Her little tan hat perches on the side of her head, gray and black hair streaming to one side under it and the ever present cigarette in the corner of her mouth. With a lurch, we are off and heading up the hill to reach , hopefully, the Rowe Hill road to take us to the village.
We pass by Winnie Hanscom’s house and I hope she can see that I am doing my duty and risking my life. I want to wave but it seems Miss Hobbs likes to drive fast and in the middle of the road. Down into Velvet Hollow and up Town Line Hill we go and at last , to the paved road to the village. I am not sure if I am happy or not that we are in civilization. I am sure, though, that most people will recognize the big, long vehicle and the driver and take appropriate actions. We pull up to the railroad station and I stay in the car, per Miss Hobbs’ orders. I do not envy the recipient of her wrath as surely she will blame the station master for not receiving her Miracle Gro and informing her it is missing.
Here she comes marching like a soldier on a mission. This is one of the few times I have seen her without a cigarette. There, I have solved that one, she says as she settles her frame in the drivers seat. I cannot abide incompetent people. That man says he hasn’t seen any Miracle Gro and I informed him that if and when it comes in, I want to be informed that very moment. I nod my head. Seems like I nod my head a lot when I am with her.
She roars up the engine, grates the shifting gear, looks at me and says when we get back home, Sandra, I will dictate and you will write a letter to the company and I shall tell them I am not pleased with their shipping policies. Oh, boy.
With a lurch, we head on back to Rowe Hill and Indian Pond. I guess writing a letter of protest is a heck of a lot better than making cherry tomato roses. At least in my eyes.