Pigtails flying, Jenny came at a gallop on her favorite pony, Punk’n. She reined her in at the edge of the baseball field in Shute Park. She was in a hurry not to miss her cousin Bill’s practice with the Hillsboro City team. Today was his first practice after being accepted on the team. Jenny wanted to be there to cheer him on.
“Hey, Bill who is that girl in such a rush? “ asked Tom. “She’s mighty cute.” Bill smiled and waved at Jenny turning to Tom Rollins, a new resident in Hillsboro, and a great baseball player.
“Oh, she’s just my cousin. Want ‘ta meet her? Come on I’ll introduce’ya.” Bill and Tom took the opportunity of a break in the practice walking toward Jenny, standing behind the fence at home plate.
“Hi ‘ya Jenny. You plann’n on entri’n ol’ Punkin in a race any time soon?” Bill laughed as he and Tom stopped in front of her. “Time’s I wonder if your pigtails will fly right off yur head, you ride that pony so fast!”
“Oh Bill, how you do tease me. And they are not pigtails their braids!! Jenny said stomping her foot while twisting one of her ‘braids.’
“Okay, braids then, responded Bill with a mischievous grin. “Jenny this here is Tom Rollins, new in town and one fine baseball player, Tom this is Jenny Schmeltzer my fiery cousin and pony racer.”
Jenny’s dimples became prominent as she smiled at Tom, her hazel eyes twinkling. Reaching out her hand she said, “Hello Tom, welcome to Hillsboro. Did your family move here too?”
“Uh, no miss. I moved out here to Oregon on my own. I’m right pleased to meetcha,” Tom said softly reaching out to take Jenny’s hand.
“Why Mr. Rollins, I do believe you are from the South. Where’re you from with that warm drawl?”
With a smile and a gentle laugh, Tom replied. “Yes, miss I am from the South, sorta’ I’m from Piedmont, Tennessee. Ya see, Miss, most of my family supported the North in the War Between the States. So I say ‘sorta’ from the South.”
“Don’t worry none about that ol’ war. This is the 20th Century, 1907, everything’s new now!” Jenny smiled her charming deeply dimpled smile, hoping she was making Tom feel warmly welcomed. She liked the look of Tom, and hoped Bill would invite him to the family picnic after house church on Sunday.
At that moment Tom felt he was falling headlong into Jenny’s dimples and was already hoping he would see her again, very soon. Just then the coach called the team back to continue practice. Bill and Tom said there goodbye’s to Jenny and ran back toward the team that was meeting in center field. Part way, Tom looked back to Jenny and waved again smiling as though his life depended on it. Seeing Tom stop and turn toward her with that smile Jenny’s heart felt like a daisy field full of butterflies, all taking flight at once.
Sunday dawned bright and warm with a gentle breeze kissing the poplars and oaks that graced the lawns on the Schmeltzer farm. Jenny was up earlier than usual to help get the chores done and the picnic ready that was planned for after house church. She hadn’t seen Bill since that day at the Park but she had prayed morning, noon and night that he would bring Tom with him for the day. After breakfast she rushed to her room. She wanted to make certain her long braids were freshly done and pinned up on her head to signify she was now a woman of 17 and available to court. She had chosen her dress carefully yesterday and made certain it was perfectly pressed. The dress had a cream background with peach rosebuds; Jenny had made and designed it with a cream tucked and pleated bodice inset. As she did up her long shining auburn hair in braids she looked in the mirror realizing she wouldn’t need to pinch her cheeks for color, they were already rosy with anticipation and hope.
Standing in the farmhouse doorway, Jenny greeted those arriving for house church. Those butterflies took off from that daisy field again as she spied Tom and Bill tying their horses up and heading for the house. As Jenny greeted Tom that morning, their eyes met, and they both knew with a strange certainty, this new century would be theirs.
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