June 26th is right around the corner. What am I going to do? Harold looked up from the kite he was fashioning out of an old newspaper for young Freddy. Alice glanced over at him and smiled while her hands busily worked at darning his socks. The woman was prettier even than the day he married her nearly 10 years ago in 1924. She deserves so much, and what do I have to give her? Practically nothing! This dang Depression is aptly named. It sure depresses me.
He rose from the table. "Honey, I'm going over to chat with Elmer for a bit. The kite only needs a tail, and I'll finish it later." He dropped a kiss on her dark, curly head and tried not to bang the screen door as he went out.
Elmer was mowing his lawn but stopped when he saw Harold. "Hey, Hal, old man! What's new?" Elmer slapped him on the back, grinning.
Harold sat on the top step of his neighbor's front porch, idly picking at some peeling paint. "I have a dilemma."
"Okay. Spill it."
"Alice's and my tenth anniversary is next week. I'd always hoped to do something special, but I don't even have the extra few bucks for a dinner and dancing. It's been eleven months since the auto shop laid me off, and our pennies are pinched so tight they squeal! You know Alice has taken in sewing to help pay the rent, and my odd jobs barely keep the wolf from our door."
Music streamed from the open kitchen window where Elmer's wife Bernice was washing dishes. It was Rudy Vallee's hit song, "Everything I Have is Yours." They listened a minute before Elmer said reflectively, "You know how people nowadays are helping each other out and making do with what they have."
Harold grimaced, "That's fine, except what do I have?"
"You need to fire up the ol' brain, buddy!" Elmer paused. "Think about it! For one, you have your handyman skills. Maybe you could barter for something for Alice."
"I dunno, but thanks for the idea. I'd better be getting back."
On his way home, Harold found himself idly humming lyrics to the Vallee song. Everything that I possess, I offer you, that my dream of happiness come true. He stopped in his tracks. "Elmer's right. I can offer my time and talents in working up something for our anniversary." A plan took shape, which he began carrying out the next morning.
His first stop was Elmer's house. When Bernice opened the door to his knock, Harold blurted, "Would you let me pick a dozen of your best roses in exchange for getting your porch painted? I noticed Elmer's not gotten to it yet." He explained the reason and Bernice instantly agreed.
His next visit was with Mrs. Elliott, a pleasant widow renowned as a baker. "Ma'am, how would you like your garden weeded in return for one of your "Lemon Delight" cakes?" Receiving an affirmative response, he followed that by striking a deal with elderly Mr. Galloway to fix his decrepit chicken house in exchange for a plump hen and made another deal with Mrs. Galloway to dress and fry it up as payment for cleaning out the coop. His last stop was at the Gabel's where he bartered an evening of babysitting for washing and waxing their car.
At breakfast on the 26th, Alice handed him a new shirt she'd sewn him from an old blue flannel sheet. "Happy Anniversary, Harold," she sang, hugging him. He thanked her and said her gift would be ready later.
At 5:00 he had Mrs. Gabel ring his doorbell to pick up the kids just before Alice had planned to start preparing supper. Harold stood behind the woman, smiling and holding a fragrant bouquet of multi-colored roses.
An hour later, Harold and Alice sat on a blanket in the leafy city park eating Mrs. Galloway's tender fried chicken along with her famous homemade biscuits and raspberry preserves. For dessert, they enjoyed a thermos of iced tea and two generous slices each of the luscious lemon cake. They walked and talked, laughed and held hands. As the sun set, Harold stood, pulling Alice into his embrace. He began to softly sing the Vallee tune, "Everything I have is yours; you're part of me. Everything I have is yours; my destiny."
Time suspended as her face nestled against his neck and they began moving as one to the music's rhythm.
Note: The song "Everything I Have is Yours," published in 1933, was written by Burton Lane and Harold Adamson. It was a 1934 hit for singer Rudy Vallee.
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