Sunday, June 5, 2016

~ It's my party line, and I'll cry because I have to ~ OR ~ Or is you is (Or is you ain't my baby)

Dear readers, we last left off with Prudy Pettaway 
trying to take a call from one of her listeners 
to her popular weekly radio program

“ Prudy’s  Probably Right!” 

But, just south of town on Yardley Road, Ruth and Sylvia James 
were preparing to leave their house.
“Sylvie dear hurry- I want to get a good seat, you remember 
the last time Madame Rosa came to the club, by the time we arrived 
there was standing room only!” said Ruth

“Gram I can’t get Walter’s car started.” 
said Sylvia coming into the hall ,
”We may need to borrow Esther’s car again, I’ll go ask..”

“Sylvia!” Ruth exclaimed - “This really has gone on too long, 
Walter was my Son, and you know how much I miss him too.. 
but we can’t go on like this. 
Driving around in a car from 1941 that breaks down every other day!”

Sylvia looked away from Ruth 
and then sat down on the chair with a sigh.

Ruth then softened her tone as she continued-
“I know it was Walter’s pride and joy- and he asked that you take good care of it 
before he left for the war- 
but I don’t think he would have intended you to keep it...”
Ruth was about to say forever, but Sylvia filled in with-
“Until he comes home.”

“Sylvie- dearest, we may have to face the facts- even though he was declared missing in action
but never declared dead... he may not be coming home- it's been 23 years!”

“I know how long it’s been.” Sylvia replied defensively - 
“But I know in my heart, he will come home.”

Ruth said in a whisper, glancing around to make sure no one was there-

“Besides dear, how does it look-to have our housekeeper driving 
around in better circumstances than her employers? 
And her car is ten years old!”
“Now don’t be giving me that Eleanor Roosevelt look.” she continued,
“You know I am just as democratic as the next person- 
well at least the ones we like-but dear, there is a limit!"

“First of all- Esther is hardly an employee, she is one of the family, and 
I am ashamed of you for even suggesting otherwise. 
Secondly, we are hardly pitiful, impoverished figures. 
Besides Sunny loves that car and enjoys working on it, 
 it’s her only connection to a Father she never knew."

At that Ruth gasped-”It’s bad enough your only Daughter- and my Grand Daughter
goes around wearing trousers all the time- but to let her roll under that car, in the driveway,
in plain sight of the whole neighborhood- well..its a disgrace Sylvia, an absolute disgrace!

“Oh Gram, the times they are a changing- 
isn’t that what that nice Jewish boy
who pretends to be a vagabond sings? 
Besides isn’t that what Walter went to war for-
to fight for- to keep us all free?”

Ruth just shook her head and said~
”I can’t understand a word he sings, he must have adenoids. 

So then let’s get on our way- I don’t want to miss Madame Rosa’s predictions.”

“I’ll go ask Esther for her keys.” said Sylvia

“Oh don’t bother - I have the spare set.” Ruth replied 
“You go freshen your face and I’ll start the car.”

“Gram- we can’t just drive off and not tell her- and you are not driving!- especially after 
we had to replace all that shrubbery down at the Morrisville Bank last month!”

“Oh Sylvie- don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill-I didn’t run anybody over!”

“That’s only because it was Sunday and everybody was in church!” replied Sylvia. 
“Give me those keys, and let me go tell Esther we are leaving, it’s just
lucky the car wasn’t more damaged by the time they pulled it out of what was left of that hedge!”

Coming into the kitchen Sylvia found the Esther was whispering into the phone.
“Hello...hello, is that you Prudy? Am I on the “Prudy's probably right” show?

Not wanting to interrupt, Sylvia wrote a note, left it on the table 
and gave Esther a wave goodbye.

“Hello, hello - are you there?”
“Prudy are you there? This darn party line, I wish we were closer to town 
so we could get our own line.” Esther muttered to herself.

“I thought Gladys would never get off the line...what a busybody, I don’t care if her
Daughter Betty is going to Princeton in the fall or not. She may have graduated 
top in her class from Pennsbury - but those cookies she made for the last Christmas bazaar 
tasted like baked sawdust! 

Prudy interrupted ”Caller do you have a question or a conundrum?

“Oh Prudy you are there, thank heavens!” Esther exhaled.
“Well Prudy, it isn’t exactly my problem, you see, I found out something that I didn’t want to find out- but now that I found out, I don’t know what to do about it!”

Before Prudy could respond there was a crackling on the line.
A voice came on “Madge is that you?”
Esther shouted in exasperation “ Gladys get off the line ~ can’t you hear I am on a call!”

Gladys replied “Esther is that you?”
Prudy chimed in- “No names please...this is a confidential program.”
“I am trying to reach Madge to remind her to stop at Crumblers Bakery to 
get the cake for the garden club event at the club!”

Prudy interjected- I just saw Madge from my window take the left turn onto Main Street from 
Afton Avenue- so I bet she’s been to Crumblers.

“Well I hope she checked it." said Esther "Last time we ordered a cake for Sunny’s birthday,
the night of the party we opened up the box and found out we had 
Howie Schwartz’s Bar mitzvah cake!”

There was a couple of loud clicks on the line.
“That’s nothing!” a completely different voice chimed in.
“My sister Louise and her Husband Alfie had a ten year wedding anniversary party,
and when the help brought out the cake in front of all their friends it read- 
With deepest sympathy!”

Esther exclaimed “Sandra Harper is that you?”
I am on a very important private call here- please get off the line!”

“Oh, sorry Esther, I just couldn’t help mentioning it when I heard Crumblers being discussed. 
Do you know the icing colors weren’t even right! It was supposed to have
peach roses with green leaves, and instead there were purple lilies with blue vines!
Who orders a sympathy cake anyway? That seems to be in really bad taste if you ask me.”
Sandra continued..”Besides Louise thought I ordered it that way on purpose-knowing
how I feel about their marriage, you know how I was against it from the start.
What’s with a grown man running around in a jump suit playing Elvis songs on an accordion?
He has a few screws loose if you ask me...but that’s between you and me Esther.”

“Sandra- for Heavens sake-we are on “Prudy’s Probably Right” 
so it’s between you and all of Yardley now. Please will you get off the line 
so I can discuss my private conundrum with Prudy?”
“Oh my goodness, Louise isn’t speaking to me already.”Sandra moaned

“Why don’t you send her some flowers?” Gladys piped in.
“Gladys are you still there too! Esther shouted.

“I just wanted to make sure my phone was still working, I’ve been having problems
with it lately.”Gladys said sheepishly
“Besides I have to get going- or I won’t get a good seat at the club!
Bye bye now.”
“Oh, look at the time!” said Sandra
“I have to run too!”


“Well!” Prudy said ”Caller, it seems we can talk now, but you will need to make it brief,
I need to be at the Club very soon too, Madame Rosa’s events are always chockablock.”

Esther said “Well I will try and be quick, but it’s so upsetting.”

Distressing news had come to Esther’s attention that very morning.
She was preparing breakfast for Fredrick, always the earliest riser in the James family.

Having served the family now for almost thirty years she has been 
like a second mother to the James children.
That is why she could tell something was amiss in Fredrick’s behavior.

“Freddy, what’s wrong, you haven’t touched your breakfast?”

“Oh Esther, what am I going to do?” he moaned.

“What-what is it, what has happened?” Esther cried
“I don’t know if I can...once it get’s out everything will be ruined!”
he murmured.

“Freddy, you can tell me...I’ve always kept your secrets.

Remember the time you snuck those goats into the ladies millinery department at Lit Brother’s department store,the very opening day!” Esther tittered 
“I never saw ladies in high heels run so fast!”

“Or, she continued, what about the time I found out it was you and Jack that put all that lawn furniture out in the middle of the road on Mischief Night, did I let slip a word?”

Fredrick shook his head and smiled for he first time that morning, 
“Yes, and if Jack hadn’t have gone back to rearrange it, 
we never would have gotten caught!”

“No, Esther, you have always been there for me, I could always count on you.”
he agreed.

Esther sighed “With your Father gone all these years, and your poor Mother 
left to raise you three children on her own, I  have tried to help out, and you know 
I love you all as if you were my own.
I know your Grandmother’s been here- but let’s face it, at times she can be...
well, let’s just say a bit touched.”

On that note Fredrick  shook his head and confided 
“ Well, last night Daphne and I stopped at the club after we saw a movie 
over at the Newtown Theatre.
Daphne has been trying to expose me to more culture, like foreign films. 
But I must admit, trying to read those subtitles while following the story give me a headache!

But she has been a good sport, the week before I took her to see
“Trouble with Angels."

Just to fill you in dear readers,
Fredrick and Daphne had been seeing each other now since January after they met at 
the James’s annual New Years day house party- to which she came as a 
guest of Fredricks’s Brother Jack. You remember don’t you?

Daphne had at first resisted dating him, knowing he had been involved with  Delores DeCarlo.
Remember Delores who had made such a spectacle of herself at the party?

But, Fredrick convinced her that he had been trying to break it off with Delores 
for some time, and their relationship was over for good.

“So, we were having a real nice time.”
Fredrick began the account of the events of the previous evening-

Daphne reached across the table, and taking Fredrick’s hand said-
“Thank you for making me so comfortable. 
When we are together, I feel I can share anything with you. 
I haven’t always been able to be so forthcoming. 
I often feel separated from most people, as if I belong in a different time and place.
I suppose that’s why I research and write about the past, 
I am much more comfortable there, than the here and now.”

Fredrick smiled and said~”But Daphne, I am so glad you are right here,
and sharing my now. I don’t know what made you decide to come to Yardley,
I just know that when I met you I could feel my world change.”

“I don’t really understand it myself.”she replied, “I was at the library 
in Philadelphia doing my research, and there sitting on the table next to me was a
newspaper. A breeze came through the room~ as if someone had opened a window.
The pages of the paper fluttered and when I looked down, 
there open was the country real estate section.
I glanced down at it closer..and there circled was the advertisement~
“Country house of once prominent Quaker family, vacant and in need of restoration~
West Acres Farm”

She had a far away look in her eyes as she continued...

“I don’t know what came over me...I felt suddenly faint, and sat there in a daze
for some time. Then this urgency came over me. I took up the paper and rushed to the 
nearest phone to call the number in the write up. I arranged to see it that very weekend.
And of course after Ophelia and I met dear Jack, Alice Fuller took me up the road to see it.
Fredrick, I know this sounds strange... but with every step closer...and from the moment I 
stood there in front of that poor neglected, beautiful house, I felt that I had come home."

"If only they could find Sophia Skattergood, the sale could go through!"

“Daphne, I know it hasn’t been that long” Fredrick said, “but there is something I need to...”

Just then, into the bar came Delores DecCarlo. 

Seeing Fredrick and Daphne, she immediately walked over to where they sat.
“Well, isn’t this cozy.” she said sarcastically, “I was wonder’n why you haven’t been around Freddy, now I know, Mary Poppins here has you under her spell!”

“Delores, you and I...” Fredrick started to say.
“You and I, Freddy, have something to talk about.” Delores interuppted.
“Something real important...that doesn’t concern little Miss Moffit here, so...”

Standing up Daphne said”Fredrick I think it best that I...”

“Daphne no, please stay, Delores and I have nothing to...”Fredrick pleaded

“Yeah stay around Daffy...stay and hear what Freddy has been up to...
you can put it in your book!”

With that remark Delores walked over to the jukebox, and scanning the choices,
made a selection.“Perfect!” she squealed “I picked this just for you Freddy.”
Turning her attention to the bartender she shouted across the room~”Charlie, get me my usual, 
and make it snappy, this party is just get’n started!”

With that the jukebox came to life with pulsating bass cords...tambourines, drums and then...
“You keep say’n you’ve got something for me...something you call love, but confess!”

“Fredrick, I am sorry, I can’t witness this grotesque...”Daphne faltered,
and then hurried from the room before Fredrick could stop her.

“Yeah, keep walk’n honey, keep go’n till ya get back to Picadilly Street, or Square, or Circle,
whatever the hell it is!" Delores shouted.
Turning to Fredrick she said “Well Freddy, she doesn’t look so hot, is she always so pale?
I guess the British invasion is over!”

With that she joined in singing with the song..
You keep lyin' when you oughta be truthin”

"Freddy boy, you and I are gonna be a Moma and Papa!"

After that narrative to Esther, Fredrick put his head in his hands and dropped onto the table.
“What have I done?” he moaned.




  1. Oh, I do Love a good Story!!! But these are such Dire Developments!!! Can that Cheap Delores be Trusted to tell the Truth??? And Can Sweet Daphne get over the shock??? And What will poor Freddy do now? But More importantly.... Did Esther tell Prudy ...on the Party Line... what the Disturbing discovery was???? Oh, I can't stand the wait... please don't keep us waiting!!
    And as usual, Philip, your scenes are Wonderful! They are so evocative and the characters are so True.... and your Houses are Gorgeous!!! Thank you for Posting from time to time! :)

    1. Thank you so much, your appreciation is such encouragement to me!
      I promise the next post will be soon!

  2. Hello Piilip,
    I am always amazed at your great stories. You really have a grat talent as a story writer. I very much look forward to your next post to see what happens.
    I must also say I adore your pictures. You have a wonderful collection and seeing it through the story makes it that much more fun.
    Big hug

    1. Thank you Giac,
      I am so glad that you enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy doing them!
      The next installment will be very soon. My best to you, and I look forward to seeing your house evolve. It's just like designing a "real" home- it is never really done!

  3. What a mind you have for plot twists and turns;... I am enthralled! :D


    1. Thank you Elizabeth, I promise the next installment will not be as long in coming!

  4. I was so enthralled with your story! Can't wait for the next chapter!!!!