The man turned around and I remember him saying, “Thanks for picking up the tobacco. That was kind. You must be tired from walking? You know the missus made a lemon meringue pie this morning. Come and have a piece.”
Kind? I did it for money and not some charitable reason. I remember feeling guilty. Throwing in the lemon pie was a dealmaker. It was, and still is, my favorite pie! It felt like someone turned on a heat source and I started to thaw. I followed the man into the house like a puppy dog anticipating an obedience treat. I was no longer afraid.
We walked into a large dusty room, smelling oily, and filled to the brim with what I thought was junk. There were bits and pieces, tools, scrap metal, wheels, and coffee cans filled with nuts and bolts and nails. It was visual overload with virtually no open space to place another item. If anything broke, the man probably had the means to repair anything using his stash of scrap. I began to imagine how to take disparate pieces of stuff, put them together somehow to create something new. It reminded me of the Erector set I received for Christmas.
But one item did stand out above the rest. In the middle of the room was a working grandfather clock with sun and moon dials. It was definitely not a scrap item as the time ticked quietly. When I asked him where the clock came from, he changed the subject. It was another mystery involving the old man who went on to tell me stories about the sun and the moon.
I loved science and math in school, and the room with its tales about the solar system energized that side of my personality. Would I be a scientist someday? Maybe I would figure out a way to get to the moon and back. An hour ago, my imagination ran wild with scary thoughts. Now it ran rampant with everything I could do or be as an adult. I had entered what felt like a magical kingdom of possibilities.
The old man introduced me to his missus in the other room. Her first name was Anna, and she had a welcoming smile. There was a coal-burning stove, a bed with a down comforter, two armchairs, a sink with running water, and a table with four chairs. With no electricity, kerosene lanterns were used. Alongside one arm chair was a stack of magazines, decades old.
On the table were three small pieces of lemon meringue pie …
To Be Continued in the next blog
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