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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