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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cup - 10-25-12 Deadline (10/18/12)

TITLE: Shave-and-a Haircut, Two Bits!
By PamFord Davis


Robert descended the creaking front porch steps with a spry spring in his gait. The pre-dawn events added vitality, yet subtracted self-assurance. Pondering the good and bad in his conjuncture, he thought of the Old Testament account of Job. Our good Lord filled faithful Job’s cup with bountiful blessings. The calculating devil emptied them out, and God generously refilled it. Making his way to the sagging barn, he raised the weighty beam latching the door and stepped inside. In the dimly lit straw strewn room, he viewed a sly tomcat chasing a rat. Robert saddled aging Molly, directed her outside into the early autumn air, and mounted for a jaunt into town.

Confident, he gave Molly her head up the Mycenae road toward Chittenango and turned off onto Tuscarora. He could hardly wait to see his pal in the barbershop and paid little attention to others he encountered along the way. Most farmers had been up for hours; some were busy in the pastures, others in their cow barns finishing the morning milking. He occasionally waved, tipped his hat, or cupped calloused hands to yell howdy. At the bottom of the road, he turned right onto Lake Street, passing the cemetery where many of his kinfolk reposed under hallowed sod. Only one more turnoff….

Molly made the left turn onto Main Street; if clad in blinders, she’d know her way. Approaching the nine o’clock hour, women delayed weekly trips into town until their men completed morning chores. Shabbily dressed farmhands chatted outside the feed and seed store, and livery stable. He saw only two horses tied to the barbershop hitching post. Coming to a halt, he dismounted, secured his mare and opened the screen door. Bells jingled from atop the door casing, to announce his arrival. Oliver was in the chair, half-asleep, as the barber cut his scraggly hair. The other man, Robert reckoned he had seen before. Slouching in a cane seat rocker, the aloof fella’ thumbed through a well read Saturday Evening Post. The shop owner looked in Robert’s direction with instantaneous recognition.

“Morning, Robert!” Reaching for Oliver’s shaving cup he continued, “Take a seat; ya’ won’t have ta’ wait long.” Oliver objected, “No, don’t have time for a shave.” The barber removed the covering from Oliver’s neck and shook off excess hair. Quickly on his feet, Oliver retrieved crumpled money from his pocket, paid, and pivoted. Leaving, he shoved the door ajar. Bells jingled and Molly jolted. The next in line seemed preoccupied and relieved when the barber lowered his chair. Robert was finally alone with Henry, his faithful friend. “Robert, what ya’ been up to? You look like the cat that swallowed the canary.” His hand ran down the familiar customer’s face, feeling bristly whiskers. “Start with the shave?” Robert nodded, so Henry palmed Robert’s personal shaving cup.

He lifted the soft bristled Fuller Brush from within, added warm water and swished the soapy solution into lather. Robert, under a mask of lather seized his long awaited opportunity. “Belle gave me another son early this morning! She named him Franklin Freeborn, after her brother the college professor.” Pausing, he received his anticipated response. “Congratulations!” Robert’s countenance plummeted. “Belle had some trouble. Being a midwife herself, she sensed things were not going as well as they should. Sure was glad widow Cunningham was there to help till’ Doc Eaton made it. She pulled through, the boy is fine, but she’ll have a cross to bear, Doc made that clear.”

“Know she was in good hands, Robert. What do the older boys think about their new baby brother?” Robert, exhaling with a sentimental sigh, unintentionally blew lather into Henry’s face. Laughing wholeheartedly, he responded. “Alex and Wallace paced the floorboards like expectant fathers. Betcha’ they spoil him rotten.” The two-rehashed old news as Henry finished shaving sculptured contours of Robert’s face. He intermittently sharpened the straight razor on the belt hanging aside the chair. Like a slight-of-hands master, he removed and wiped away all traces of whisker stubble. He set the shaving cup back up in its reserved cubbyhole and began snipping Robert’s thinning locks. Finishing, Henry poured cornstarch into his cupped left hand, patting it upon Robert’s weathered neckline. “Bay Rum?”

Leaning back, Robert said, “Give me the works.” The sweet smelling concoction of citrus, cinnamon and cloves wafted through the air; in revere he remembered Belle’s aromatic country kitchen. “Think I’ll buy posies for Belle ba’fore I head back; two bits for you, violets for Belle.

*Creative Non-fiction. My Dad, Franklin (1912-2002), Grandpa Robert, and Uncle Wallace used Grandpa’s inverted shaving “bowl” as a decorative and functional base of the staircase banister in our two-story “Sears & Roebuck” prefabricated house. I have Grandpa’s straight razor. Grandma, Grace Belle was a nurse and did serve in the capacity of midwife.

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This article has been read 445 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 10/25/12
Refreshing entry with fond memories and emotions...nicely done. Thank you. God bless
Marie Hearty 10/25/12
I enjoyed the story. It captured a time that I never lived, but wished I could go back in time to see and experience. Thank you for sharing.

God Bless!
Dannie Hawley 10/27/12
I love this story! It sounds just like my Grandpa sharing one of his stories as we bounced along in his ancient red and white Dodge pick-up. I was only five, and thought my Grandpa must surely know the entire world for all the stories he had to tell. You've done a terrific job!
Genia Gilbert10/28/12
I enjoyed all the colorful descriptions and wonderful little nostalgic details. Good story and great writing.
Virgil Youngblood 10/31/12
The title pointed to days gone by and the story did not disappoint. Well done.
Noel Mitaxa 11/02/12
Your descriptions drew me in with warmth and credibility. Loved your characters and their interaction. Great work.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/03/12
Congratulations for ranking 8th in level three!