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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: MA3-7113
By Julie Paulsen


The week was over, and those of us who actually missed our parents sat chatting on uncomfortable tree stumps, impatiently waiting for the telltale puff of flying dust which signaled a car's entrance into camp. We thought we were cool, a bunch of ten year olds who beat the older campers at Final Cabin Duty...as if packing and leaving camp was a competition. In reality, we were the youngest campers, ready for familiar faces, hugs and home.

The gravel road's dust blended into one huge cloud now as car after car entered the campgrounds. One letter came to me from home that week stating, "we're not sure who will be there on Saturday to pick you up, so look for either car." It was a mystery; would the whole family pick me up in the station wagon or would Dad arrive alone in his brand new, bright and shiny, red 1961 Ford Falcon?

Dad was a traveling salesman for Cyclone Fence, so when I saw the glimmer of red through the pine trees, I figured he made a business call on the way to camp. Thankful for the blowing dust particles, I rubbed my eyes hard, knowing there would be no room for Mom and four younger siblings in the compact sedan, giving me good reason for the emerging tears and redness. The pure contentment of a whole family reunion was on hold few more hours. Leaving several tired-of-waiting campers, squatting on the uncomfortable stumps, I leapt into Dad's arms, burying my telltale eyes in his great big shoulder. I was halfway home!

Dad tucked the suitcase in the trunk while I tossed pillows and blankets in the back seat. A trip to the mess hall to officially check out and I was free to leave. Opening the passenger door I jumped into the factory new car, inhaling the magnificent aroma. My eyes rested on the floorboard, right in the middle, it was a big box with a strange phone on top. "What is that?", I asked. "It's a portable phone!", Dad replied. I had a so many childish questions which he patiently answered, the last being, "Can we call home...please?"

Forty-eight years later and I can still recollect the setting I've thought of time and again. I was dressed in navy pedal pushers, red Keds and a multi-colored, striped sleeveless shirt. The side windows, rolled all the way down, caused my bobbed hair to fly in the breeze and swirl around my eyes. It was a warm, sunny, summer afternoon, and we took in the scent of fields and farms as we headed east out of Rockford, towards Lake Michigan, on Route 173. It seemed to take forever as Dad gave the operator our home phone number, MA3-7113, funny how I still remember that first home's number! Hearing the lovely sound of Mother's voice lasted what seemed only a brief moment. "Can't talk long, it costs too much!" ordered Dad.

At the age of ten, talking from the car to Mom at home miles away inspired no thoughts in me of the future, or of the small phone I'd carry in my purse today, with Bluetooth, or of speaking into a rearview mirror and not caring how long I talk. To me, that old, clunky portable phone was my very own, personal "Red Telephone", able to connect me to the most important person in my world. I was home.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

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This article has been read 351 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Dimple Suit10/09/09
Nostalgic and beautifully written. Took me back to my camp days. Good work!
Jan Ackerson 10/11/09
I remember that "last day of camp" feeling!

I enjoyed the sense of nostalgia in this story.
Shilo Goodson10/11/09
I think we can all relate to the emotions of this child. Even if we have not been to camp, there we have experienced that time where we really missed our family. Good job showing the kid's emotions so well.