This is the thirty-sixth part of a fiction serial, in 766 words.
As I got older, I didn’t remember that much about my mother. She died not long after my tenth birthday, and I struggled to recall her features. I could look at photos of course, but that was never quite the same. I did remember some of her stories. She told me her grandmother was an Indian Squaw, and her grandfather was a Civil War hero with one leg. But she wasn’t too sure what side he had fought on. As for her parents, all she said was that they were farmers in Kansas, and her daddy built houses too.
Once she was gone, my father would sometimes drink too much whiskey, and talk about how he had met her down in Kansas, bringing her back home after the wedding. “We tried for so long to have a baby, and Sophia would cry herself to sleep saying it was never going to happen. When it finally did, she said she was too old for children, but she had to go ahead and have you of course”.
Even as a youngster, hearing that didn’t make me feel exactly wanted or loved. My mother was thirty-five when she had me, in the spring of nineteen-o-eight. She took to her bed most of the time after that, and Mrs Macaulay came in to run the house and tend to me.
On the heels of the end of the war came the Spanish Flu. Mother was one of the first to go. Father got sick with it too, but he recovered. In an effort to cheer me up after her death, he bought me a camera. It was expensive to get the film plates developed, so I was restricted to a few shots now and then. It was big and unwieldy, and heavy to carry on the tripod, but I dearly loved it. The photos would come back from the newspaper where he had them developed, and I would look at them in my room.
By the time I left for college, I had a smaller one I could easily carry, and had even got some of my photos published in the newspaper. Father wanted me to take over as the managing editor after my studies. That had always seemed the natural thing to me. After all, he had done the same before with my grandfather, and we still lived in the old family home; too big for just the two of us of course.
I was very happy when I started working there. It was only a local paper, though some articles were syndicated all over the state, and even got picked up for publication in New York City. I still took some of the photos too. Election speeches, new bridges or municipal buildings, and any parades that went past. As a graduation present, I had been givent a new Packard, and loved to drive that around. I met Velma because of that car. She was working as a waitress in a roadside diner, raising money to pay for her training as a nurse. That summer was one of the best I can remember.
Soon after, the Great Depression hit hard, and things got tight. Luckily for us, people bought newspapers just as much as before, if not more. We didn’t have to lay anyone off, and though some of the regular advertisers went bust, we kept the paper going all the way through. When Velma got her registration, she went to work in New York City, at the big hospital in The Bronx. She was happy to get the job, but it meant I didn’t see her so much. When she came back to stay with her folks, she looked tired, and had stopped talking about us getting married. She was keen to become a supervisor, and when I mentioned an engagement, she smiled and said, “No rush, we’re still young”.
My father was only sixty-one when he got sick. It just slowed him down at first. The doctor said it was too much stress, too many cigarettes, and maybe too much whiskey too. Within two years, he couldn’t walk that far, and he told me I had to take over at the paper. I was only twenty-five, but I felt ready.
And it was an exciting time. We had a new president, Franklin D Roosevelt. There was trouble brewing in Europe, and FDR announced his New Deal to end the Depression. Then he allowed the sale of beer, beginning the end of Prohibition.
There was a lot going on to write about in the paper, and I forgot all about Kansas.