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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Shopping with the Tin Man
By CeCe Lane


The air was stifling and my hair stuck to my head in a band of sweat. I had been hoeing potatoes with my father and brother, Roy all morning. I dreamed of the swimming hole and an afternoon there. My father dreamed of a hoed potato field and young boys hoeing.

At that moment I heard the dinner bell. I took of out of the field as if the devil himself were pursuing me. My stomach had been gnawing on my backbone for hours it seemed. I was ready for the cooler air of the house and the ginger water Mother was sure to have ready for us.

There was no breeze, not a blade of grass, nor a leaf moved. Suddenly I was amazed to see a cloud of dust coming down the road. I peered intently trying to figure out what was coming down the road. As it got closer my joy was unequaled. I saw a dark shiny red cart with gold scrollwork, and I whooped and hollered!

“The tin man’s coming! The tin man’s commmiiinnnggg!” I yelled all the way to the porch. Mother met me at the door one hand on her hip and the other one shading her eyes.

“Momma, he’s coming.” Mother could now see for herself as the buggy was just pulling into the yard. I stood transfixed on the step admiring the man’s black horse. I had never seen a more beautiful animal, except for those Father raised of course.

I helped unhitch before leading the horse into the big barn. Father and the tin man followed Mother inside where the girls were flying about the kitchen to get dinner on the table.

The dinner was everything a growing boy could dream of. We had chicken and ham, mashed sweet potatoes, corn, sweet pickles, baked beans, apple and cherry pie with cold, fresh milk to drink.

While we ate Mr. Green, the tin man, shared the news. He told Father a town north of us was selling horses for two hundred dollars each. “I know you can get that much out of your Morgans, Mr. James.”

I was having trouble waiting for dinner to end. Finally Father and Mr. Green pushed away from the table. Mr. Green thanked Mother for a wonderful meal. The girls were fairly flying around the room, clearing the table and washing the dinner dishes. As soon as the work was done, we could get down to the shopping.

Mr. Green spent the winter months fashioning household items out of tin metal. He also made a few farm tools, but mostly it was items women used in housekeeping.

Mother quickly raced up the attic stairs and she returned with a pile of rugs that she had spent the winter making. These she used to barter and trade for items she needed. Mother gingerly stepped into his cart and began her shopping. She selected wash basins, cups, plates, and colanders.

As she stepped out of the cart, the haggling started. I was proud of Mother and her ability to get the best price from the tin man. Father said he never feared Mother’s shopping trips because she was so good at getting the best price.

When Mother and Mr. Green were both satisfied, Mr. Green started loading the unwanted items back into his cart. He stopped when he saw my sisters, Elizabeth and Anna and myself standing there.

“Well, now it’s time for the children to pick something.” The three of us looked eagerly at Mother, when she nodded her head it was our turn for shopping. Roy came out of the barn, with a fur he had been saving, slowly walking toward Mr. Green.

“Come on, son. It’s time for you to pick with the other children.”

“Uh, Mr. Green. I’d like to purchase something this year. I have this fox pelt to pay for it. I’d like to buy that knife you have there.” Roy pointed at a knife hanging from the side of the wagon. I could see why he’d want it. It was a man’s knife and Roy was almost a man.

I watched the girls pick a set of heart-shaped baking pans. When I saw the whistle I knew that was what I had to have.

Our decisions were made and our shopping was done. It was time for me to head back to the potato field and my hoe. Now though I had renewed vigor for the task at hand.

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Member Comments
Member Date
cindy yarger03/08/07
I enjoyed this. This era was before my time but you gave me a good sense of what it would have been like. Thanks!
Jan Ackerson 03/08/07
A charming and quaint peek into bygone days.

Something I've learned about short stories is that conflict is an essential element to keep readers' interest. I wonder if you could add something like that? Nothing to spoil the lovely mood, but something to create tension and then relief?

I liked your narrator's voice, and the framing of this piece. Good job.
Jacquelyn Horne03/11/07
Neat story. I have lived a long life (I think), but purchasing from the "tin man" is a new one on me. Very interesting. Good writing too.
Patricia Casey03/11/07
Your mother reminded me of the Proverbs 31 wife, knowing how to make good deals to take care of her family.

An unique approach to this week's challenge.

While we ate Mr. Green (Was Mr. Green tasty? You need a comma after ate.)

In Jesus' Name,

julie wood03/12/07
I really enjoyed this character sketch! The old timey setting and all the characters came alive for me with the vivid descriptions. I felt as though I were right there, experincing everything!

My favorite descriptive lines: "My hair stuck to my head in a band of sweat" and "My stomach had been gnawing on my backbone..."

The unusual title also sparked my curiosity. Great job!
Myrna Noyes03/12/07
Nice story taking us back to an earlier way of shopping that was quite common in many parts of the country.
Joanney Uthe03/12/07
Thanks for taking us back to a time when people bartered and dropped things because someone came up the lane. You did a good job of transporting us back in time. The voice seemed a little older than the character, to me. I really enjoyed the take on the topic.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/07
I just loved this nostalgic look at a by-gone day. The descriptions were excellent. Good job!
Loren T. Lowery03/13/07
I truly enjoyed this slice of life and all that it was filled with. No waste of time or energy, here.

Especially liked "...and Father dreamed of a hoed potatoe field and boys hoeing." POV aside, it's fun to be able to peek into character's minds.
Catrina Bradley 03/13/07
Great job! I love this look back into history. Your details made this story come alive. A few commas missing, but wonderful writing.
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Great little "slice of life" here! I truly enjoyed all the "action."