Almost hidden behind the sacks of flour and beneath the shelves of pickles, dried apples, and beef jerky, you wouldn't necessarily see the contraption. But the ole' Dawg would announce it's presence every once in a while.
We called it the ole' Dawg 'cause it kind of looked like one with its bright happy eyes, tongue lolling out, and one droopy ear. It was the only telephone in town, housed in the dry goods store owned by Mr. Calhoun.
When ole' Dawg spoke up, it was quite the occasion. It meant someone was getting news or maybe even a proposal from somewhere not here.
One day, the Dawg barked and Mrs. Glover was standing nearby. Now what you have to realize is that Mrs. Glover liked to be the first one to get any kind of news. Once she had it, she was a mass communication system all on her own.
“Hello?” Her voice trilled across the barrels of sugar and boxes of gunpowder.
“Gina Beth? Most certainly. And could I let her know who's calling?”
“Mmm Hmm. And you say this is Gina Beth's brother and you're calling about the baby? Just a minute. I'll get her right away.”
Now from that point on, the caller had to hang on the telephone while the people at the other end found the person for whom they were calling.
“Gina Beth!” Mrs. Glover called out the front door, lifting her long skirts out of the dust of the road outside and looking around to see who she could find.
A couple of minutes later Mr. Boyd, who's sight was failing along with his hearing, happened into the store and spotted ole' Dawg's droopy ear dangling.
“Hallow!” he boomed. “What's that? Gotta bass? How long d'ya say?”
Another moment or two later, Mr. Calhoun picked up the dangling receiver.
“Hello? Gina Beth? I'll see if I can find her? Who'd you say is calling?”
“Come on Blue, let's find her”, he called as he went out the back door.
Gina Beth herself was dangling her bare feet over the side of the old wooden bridge across Wilson's creek when she heard the news.
“Gina Beth, is it true?” Katie Langley plopped down beside her.
“Is what true?”
“Why, its all over town about the...well...you know. Something you're expecting?” A pointed glance told the rest.
“What?” Gina Beth jumped up. “Who'd say such a thing? I haven't even kissed a boy!”
Running up the main street toward the dry goods store, she was thinking hard on what she was going to say to her brother Jack for telling tales.
“I swear, the feller on the phone said that fish was twenty – twenty-one inches.” Mr. Boyd spread his hands as he spoke to Mr. Fitch and his son who ran the hardware.
Gina Beth screwed up her mouth. A fish?
Mrs. Applegate and Mrs. O'Sullivan lowered their eyes as they passed the dry goods store and walked by her without speaking.
“How can they possibly know the eyes are blue?” she heard one of them whisper to the other.
“Gina Beth, there you are. Glad someone found you.”
“Mr. Calhoun, who's on the telephone?”
“I believe she said she's your grandmother.”
She picked up the receiver. “Hello? Gramm?”
“What's that you say? Yes, ma'am, I did get it. Twenty-one inches, blue gingham. Yes, its just exactly what I needed. Thank you. By the way, was there something about a baby?”
“Mmmm. Mmm Hmm. Oh, that's wonderful! What's my niece's name? Tell Jack I'm very happy for him. OK, love you too Gramm. Umm, Gramm, by the way, could you do one more thing for me?”
A moment later Gina Beth called out the door.
“Mrs. Glover! My Gramm has something to tell you!”
Ole' Dawg, half hidden among the sacks of flour and barrels of apples, almost appeared to smile, just a little mischievously.
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