Spring Break in the Capital City
by PamFord Davis
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I miss you already. Mother and I just boarded our train; I’m sitting next to the window. Everything is so pretty; daffodils in full bloom wave alongside the tracks. Bright green grass looks unreal, like a blanket of artificial grass used to line children’s Easter baskets. I got so tired of snow. I know you live for skating, sledding and snow skiing, but I just hibernate until spring.
Wish I could have convinced Mother to let me stay home during spring break. She insisted I take this dingy trip with her to D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I promise to send you picture post cards of all the trees in bloom, monuments, and naturally the White House. I have my autograph book in my satchel. Maybe I can get the president’s John Hancock! Wouldn’t that be keen? Oh, Bet, I hate to miss the hop.
Cynthia, of course will be the best-dressed girl there. If she pitches woo with Bobby, I’ll never forgive her! The steward just made an announcement; “Dinner is being served in the dining car.” Mother is rushing me; she’s like a grizzly bear if late for a meal. Wonder if I can get a burger, fries and super sized chocolate malted. Remember when eight of us squeezed into the corner booth at the malt shop last week? Mother is giving me the evil eye; I’d better shake a leg.
Mother just shook me. I was having the most divine dream about Bobby. Well, I’m wide awake now and anxious to get off this train, would love to flag the taxi to our hotel. Mother would simply die if I flagged a taxi. It’s not proper for a young lady of fourteen to wave or whistle. She’ll get a red cap to do the chore. We’re pulling into Union Station. I need to put my shoes back on before Mother notices.
Betsy, have you noticed my scribbling? I’m so sleepy. I just finished a cherry blossom bubble bath. The hotel maid pulled down my coverlets and I’m snuggling between crisp linen sheets. Mother is in the adjoining room and already fast asleep. Tomorrow, we’ll catch up on our rest. I’ll snoop around the lobby and see if there are any cute bellhops. If I meet one, I’ll ask if he has a brother for you. Nighty-night.
Gosh, I’m sorry Betsy. I didn’t add to this letter yesterday. I slept late and then Mother sprung an unexpected shopping trip on me. How many dresses, cardigan sweaters and stockings do I really need? I begged for bright colors to wear today. Instead, she chose a white cotton frock with lace collar; the only color was a cherry blossom appliqué on my sweater, keeping in step with the theme of this morning’s festival. In subdued acquiescence, I smiled.
A cute boy, wearing a double-breasted blue blazer, smiled at me today before the opening ceremony. We were in the crowd waiting for the speakers to begin. Someone shoved us and his elbow hit my arm. He turned towards me, red faced, matching his cropped hair saying, “I’m sorry Miss, so clumsy of me.” I accepted his broken English apology. He said he is here as an exchange student from Austria. How romantic, we stood close as winds carried fragrance of cherry trees in full bloom.
Mother kicked aside fallen blooms, nudged her way forward and motioned me to follow her up front. We joined others in the pledge of allegiance to the flag. A soprano canary decked in red-white-and blue sang the national anthem before we took our assigned seats. The first Top Hat dignitary stepped to the podium. “Ladies and Gentleman, on behalf of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, welcome to the first annual Cherry Blossom Festival.”
Officially welcomed, I placed my white gloved hand to my mouth and yawned. Speaker after speaker shared the historical facts and significance of the 1912 planted cherry trees, gifts of good will from the nation of Japan. Following my printed program, I noticed that the recognition of special guests would close the ceremony. I sat up straight and cleared the frog from my throat.
“Please stand for the recognition of honored guests, Former First Lady, Helen Heron Taft, daughter, Helen Taft Heron and granddaughter, Helen Taft Heron.” We received a standing ovation. This was a special day for Grandmother Helen. I’m glad Mother insisted I attend. Betsy, can you keep a secret? Cherry blossoms make me sneeze!
*Fiction with a splash of historical facts.
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This story grabbed me from the beginning! Kept trying to NOT read ahead to see who was writing it. Vivid descriptions enabled me to be there. Well done, Pam. The ending was a real kicker!