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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)

By Verna Mull


Each fall, before school started, our family made a 25 mile trip to a larger city to shop for school needs. We seldom went that distance to anywhere. A trip of this length was a real event.

One hot, August morning, we did all of the chores, and headed for Mason City. I was 13 years old, and begged for our neighbor girl, Marlene, to go with us. My wish was granted.

Oh how I had looked forward to this day. Going to a big city was so exciting. Now, Mason City was not a huge city at that time, but there were many more streets than the little town of Marble Rock.

The trip was quite uneventful. Marlene and I read the entire road signs to amuse ourselves.
My father never drove more than 45 miles per hour back then. We weren’t that many years removed from gas rationing, re-tread tires etc. The trip seemed to last for eternity, at least in the minds of 2 very immature young people.

My parents insisted that we buy my shoes first, before we would be allowed to go anywhere on our own. Buying shoes was certainly not my priority. Barefoot had been my usual attire through the summer months. Sundays were the exception, but the shoes pinched my feet unmercifully. Of course, I realized that shoes would be necessary for school. I looked at wearing shoes as a necessary evil.

I was not one bit concerned about the pencils, paper, and the list of things needed for school. My parents always supplied me with anything that had to do with education. Of course, there were no frills, but I was use to that.

My father handed me a generous $2 to buy lunch for Marlene and I. Actually, he called it dinner, because that is the name for the noon meal on the farm.

Marlene and I traipsed merrily along to see the big city and find a place where she and I could eat. We wanted to eat first, so we would know if we had any left-over money for a treat. We were to meet my parents in the dime store at 2:30. We always needed to get back to care for the livestock, and allow time for a flat tire, or something else unforeseen.

As we walked along, both of us were very enthralled with the big store windows, and displays that made Marble Rock seem very rustic, by comparison.

We passed a few restaurants with their specials posted in the windows. Every meal seemed to cost at least 75Cents, and that was the specials. Marlene and I decided to keep walking and find something cheaper.

At last, we came to an establishment with a hot beef sandwich advertised for 50 cents.

“Wow,” I said, “shall we eat here?” “Yes,” replied Marlene, “that way we will have more money to buy something.”

Well, we walked in that door and the room was very dimly lit. We realized we were in a beer parlor. We knew that her parents and mine would not approve of our being there. However, we discussed the situation, but the money won out, the way our immature minds worked. We made the decision to stay.

The place reeked with the smell of cigarettes and beer. Neither of us was used to that smell. We ordered the hot beef sandwiches, and sipped on the water that we had been served. The water tasted awful. We decided that they probably didn’t wash the glasses from serving beer. (Today, I realize that it was more likely that there was chlorine in the water) Needless to say, we didn’t drink any more water.

At last our hot beef sandwich arrived with mashed potatoes and gravy over it all. The gravy was thin, and ran all over the plate. It also had some spices in it that were unknown to us. We ate just enough to satisfy our hunger, and poured that horrible water in our plates, paid our bill and left. As I stated before, we were both farm girls who were used to real home grown potatoes and real beef and gravy. I am sure there was nothing really wrong with the meal.

We headed back to the dime store.

To this day, I cannot figure out how our teenage minds worked, to pour our water in our plates.

The beer parlor had been quite enough adventure for one day for 2 country bumpkins.

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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp03/18/10
This gave me a good chuckle. I was so glad you ended up explaining that even you didn't understand why you poured the water into your plates. I said whaaaaaat?, but just kept reading thinking, it was me, not getting something. This was refreshing to read about an era gone by, that I wish we could have hung onto. Simplicity with gratefulness.
Jan Ackerson 03/20/10
Very sweet, nostalgic atmosphere.

Teensy editing hint: write out numbers less than twenty in words, rather than using the digits.

I really enjoyed this one, and could imagine every moment. Well done.