All of the snow we’ve had this winter takes me back to the good old days when we were busy raising our eight children. Especially I remember Fred.
No, Fred was not one of our children. He was one of Bill’s bosses when Bill worked at Corning. Unfortunately for him, he was the one who answered the phone in the lab when Bill wasn’t there. He was a very nice young man, married without children.
One winter morning when school had been closed, I called to tell Bill to pick up a pane of glass on his way home. Fred answered. He politely asked, “What size do you need?”
“Large enough to fit the back window in the boys’ bedroom,” I replied. Then I explained that the boys were apparently having a battle which included throwing shoes at each other, and one of the shoes had broken the window and landed in a snow bank below.
“What are you going to do?” he asked weakly.
“Repair the window and wait for the snow to thaw a bit so we can get the shoe back,” I replied with what I considered perfect logic.
“But, won’t the boy need his shoe?” he asked.
“Not ‘til the snow thaws,” I answered as I wondered what was wrong with the man.
Another time our television set caught on fire. I unplugged it and blew out the fire. I didn’t know if we needed a fire department report for the insurance company, so I called Bill at work. Again poor Fred answered the phone. I asked to talk to Bill. He said Bill was in the cafeteria on his lunch break and asked if I wanted to leave a message.
“Oh, well, I just wanted to tell him that the television set was on fire.”
I heard a strangled scream apparently from Fred, so I said, “It’s OK, I blew it out.” He just said, “I’ll get him right away, don’t hang up.”
Fred didn’t come back to the phone, but I found out later that he ran to the cafeteria and shouted to Bill, “Your wife’s on the phone. Your TV’s on fire.”
Bill just nodded and said, “Tell her to shove it out on the porch,” and he continued his lunch.
Poor Fred obviously did not understand life in a big family.
His wife must have heard about the phone calls, but just thought Fred exaggerated until one Easter Sunday. We were sitting in the balcony at church with all of our kids in their new Easter outfits.
When it was time to go to Communion, she offered to go first and then come back to watch the preschoolers so Bill and I could go to Communion together. Never mind that Fred looked a bit pained at her offer, I thought it was really nice of her and he accepted.
As I was returning up the aisle from Communion, I looked up to see a little girl’s hat gliding above the people’s heads as it circled the church, finally landing in front of a surprised gentleman. Then I noticed Fred’s wife in the balcony, eyes wide and mouth open, in horror.
We found out later that the elastic that held the wide brimmed white straw hat on her head had become uncomfortably tight for our little daughter. Sure had tried to adjust it, but had managed instead to launch it out over the church. All of our kids agreed that it was truly an impressive flight.
I thought so myself, but I don’t think Fred’s wife ever really recovered from it.
Eventually Fred was promoted and transferred to another plant in another state.
Not too long ago I found out we apparently made a lasting impression on them while they were here. They never did have any children.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on March 9, 2005.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.