It was a warm summer day and daddy invited me to go to work with him. It was the late nineteen-thirties and I was a spunky eight year old. Daddy sold fruit at the local fruit stand, business wasn’t good but it could of been worse. At the rate things were going, a huge down fall was expected and with it, a deeper oppression. It was the Great Depression Era and a great depression it was...
“I’d love to come with you, daddy.” I pushed my half eaten breakfast away from me.
“Lets go then.” My Father urged me. I wasn’t my parents favorite child, my younger sister Doris was their “prized” child.
“What are you thinking about?” My father’s voice sounded quiet, perhaps even sad. I shrugged, not wanting to tell him the truth. I tried to be honest without really lying.
“I was thinking about Doris.” I smiled up at Daddy. He just nodded but didn’t say a word. Daddy never smiled anymore, it made me sad to think that it was going to be this way from now on. I knew we weren’t really struggling, we had enough money to survive and had more than most. I thought of the poor families that lived without much food, those who lived day to day. I quietly prayed that my Daddy would smile again and that my Mother would be happy too.
“Here we are, Jane. Why don’t you arrange the fruit on the stands and make it look nice.” Daddy gave me my orders. I nodded once and got to work.
While I turned fruits around and arranged them, I watched Daddy with the customers. He never smiled at them either, and lost his temper often. I sighed and decided to pay attention to what I was doing instead.
“Excuse me, Miss?” A high-pitched voice floated from above me, I turned to look up at a woman who was wearing a peculiar looking hat. It appeared to be made out of woven straw which was covered with netting and there was two huge flowers bulging out of the back of her head.
“Yes, Ma’am?” I blinked, and raised one eyebrow.
“Oh!, Never mind Dear...” She saw my father and realized he was the man in charge, “Go back to putting your germs on the produce.” She sneered, shaking her hand at me as if to dismiss me. She flitted away from me and to my father’s side. I rolled my eyes at her and glared, putting my hand out to turn a peach. I felt something wet on my hand.
“Oh, Daddy!” I called out to him, I held my eyes on the canvas above me that protected the fruit from the elements. I glanced back over and the woman with the hat was sauntering away.
“What is it, Jane?” Daddy was by my side already, I pointed up showing him water had puddled on top of the canvas covering. “Go get me the broom.” He instructed me. I nodded once, keeping my eyes on the hat-woman.
“That woman in the hat does not look too happy.” I was already back to daddy, I handed him the broom. He looked over at her and rolled his eyes, he glanced back at me and jammed the broom in an upward motion, knocking the water off the top of the covering.
I watched the hat-woman sorting through fruit, squeezing it, sniffing it, and to make sure it had no bad spots but she always seemed to scrunch her nose in disgust and set the fruit back down. After about ten minutes she stalked off toward the exit, giving up her quest and leaving empty handed.
Suddenly, I heard a loud scream. I quickly turned to see the hat-woman drenched in water. My jaw fell in shock, I looked back at daddy. His jaw was also open in shock. Then something beautiful happened.
Daddy laughed. I smiled and laughed too, watching daddy double over. He grabbed his stomach, heaving laughs from his throat. The hat-woman stalked over to daddy, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“This hat is brand new...” She was in hysterics, “It cost me twenty-five dollars!” her voice rose an octave. Daddy pulled out a wad of money and peeled off twenty-five dollars, “Here...” He handed the money over.
“It was worth it!” He began to laugh again.
That day was the best day of the entire decade because I heard the most beautiful sound... My daddy’s laugh.
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