Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: Stealing Ms. Smiths' grapes
By Betty Overstreet
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Do you have any idea what it may be like to grow up in a neighborhood where most folks have very little money and seldom experience the niceties that other families take for granted? Have you always had everything in your home that your mama might need to make life better?
Come with me, for a walk down the lane of necessities only. It will just be a short walk, the street isn't very long.
We moved to logging camp town in Oregon, many years ago. A mile or so away from the center of town there was a row of one-room cabins, for the people in town who couldn't find a house when first arriving for a job at the lumber mill. If you had a large family you could rent two of the cabins so as not to be so terribly crowded.
Mama could always make a home for us and we never felt poor. She would always start planting flowers around the front door to welcome us the minute we arrived home from school.
I was an adventurous child, so I always checked out the new neighborhood when we moved from one place to another. After my sisters and I helped Mama get all our belongings settled into the house, she would tell us to get on outside and have some fun. Mama was wonderful that way. she always wanted us to have fun.
As soon as we were told to get on out, I walked outside, looked from one end of the street to the other and took off toward what looked like a meadow--and what was that little shed looking thing over there?
I began running through the meadow and soon discovered what I had seen was a grape arbor! Oh my, those grapes were so sweet--and then--I heard a voice shouting, "You little heathen, what do you think you're doing, stealing my grapes!" How do you think I can make any jelly if you gobble them all up?"
" I am so sorry lady, I just saw them and they looked so good and were just calling to me! I never thought about it being stealing. My mama will spank my bottom when she hears about it, cause she always tells me to never steal anything. Maybe you could let me have a job to pay for the ones I ate?
"Well, child, see'ns how you seem to be a good girl and if you don't mind working to pay for them, how about if I bring a bucket and you can pick enough for a batch of jelly?"
" I'd be so happy to do that and then I wouldn't be a thief, right?" I replied.
I took that bucket and would you believe, I had it full in "2 shakes of a cows tail". The neighbor lady, she told me I could call her Miz Smith, was amazed at how fast I filled it up and asked if I would like to come back the next day and pick another bucket full of grapes for her to make some more Jelly.
The next morning after mama fixed our breakfast, I said, "Mama, I have to go to work now. Ms. Smith wants me to come pick some more grapes for her." Mama was really surprised that I had a real job and told me to tell Ms. Smith that she was happy that I could help her.
When I got over to the grape vines Ms Smith was there with two buckets and we worked together and she talked real nice to me just like I as her best friend. When we were all finished she invited me into her house and made me a fried baloney sandwich and gave me a big glass of milk to drink. Then she handed me a jar of the jelly and a bag of the sweet, fresh grapes we had just picked together! She told me to come back when I needed more grapes and she would give me some more jelly for my mama!
I discovered that sometimes neighbors can be really good friends, even to a poor little girl like me ,who lived in a one room cabin.
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