We went back to working on the bookcase, and I was fascinated by the way it began taking shape. Grandda used a tool to smooth the wood by moving it back and forth over the wood. It shaved it off in little curls.
"Can I try that, Grandda?" My hands fairly itched to try it out.
"Tell you what, I got an old one over there on that shelf and an old piece of board, standing in the corner. Get them and I'll let you practice on them."
I was excited to be able to try something new, and soon I was working on the board that I had laid across two sawhorses so I could try my hand at smoothing. The board kept slipping off the sawhorses, till my Grandda told me how to prevent the movement. The plane (that is what he called it) made gouges in the wood. I stopped and watched him closely for several minutes, then went back to trying my hand at it. I was pressing so hard on the plane that I could feel the welts on my back burning.
"Grandda, I still can't get the hang of it," I complained.
Coming over to stand behind me, he took my small hands into his large ones, and started guiding my hands on the plane, so that the plane guided smoothly over the board. He smelled of tobacco and sweat, not an unpleasant smell, yet new to me. He went back over to his work and I tried again. It worked! I was so excited, I jumped up and down, then ran over and hugged him.
"I did it, Grandda! I did it! Thank you!"
"Go on, boy!" he returned, but seemed pleased by my display of thanks and affection.
My response to my success had surprised me, as well. I never expected to be hugging him, ever, yet there I had done so.
We worked on for awhile, and pretty soon, when he was satisfied with the board he had finished smoothing, I held it while he put it into place, using little round pegs that he called dowels, applying glue from a bottle that said, "Carpenter's glue". Then it was on to another board for him.
It was time for me to ask another question.
"How many other children did you and Grandma have? What happened to them?"
"Not now, boy, maybe later...let's get this straight. I ain't gonna answer any more questions today, so jist keep 'em under your hat. Why don't you answer a question for me, now. Where did you get that Yankee's hat you wear all the time? I notice you're never without it."
"My Da took me and Les to a Yankee's World Series game this past October, just before he got killed by somebody." Unbidden tears came into my eyes, and I hurriedly wiped them away. "It was the only ball game he ever took us to, but we had a really great time together. I'll never forget it, and I'm sure Les won't either."
"Yeah, I noticed your little brother wears one, too."
He sat back on the bench once again and got a far away look in his eyes. A look of sadness crept over his countenance, and all at once, I felt sorry for him. Maybe some day he would tell me more about their life on the farm before my Da left. I couldn't help wondering if the other kids were older or younger than my Da.
Pretty soon, it was time to go into the house to wash up for dinner. The sun was weak and barely showed through the clouds. The snow had finally stopped and a couple of fresh inches lay on top of the other. We had been using a couple of lanterns set high on the shelf to see what we were doing.
"I got to get some electric run in here. It would make working out here easier," he remarked almost as if to himself.
We went to the back door and stamped our feet on the rubber mat on the porch.
"Brrrr! This heat feels good," I said. My hands were beginning to really feel cold, even though I had been busy. Hanging my coat on the hook near the door, I went into the living room, where Rosie sat, holding a mirror in her hands and primping.
She was looking at herself, this way and that, pursing her lips and smoothing her carroty red hair.
"You ain't gonna look any better by doing all that stuff," I remarked to her. "Where is our dinner, anyway?"
"Don't ask me! Grandma is still in her bedroom, moaning and groaning, something fierce. Maybe she'll kick off today and we can go home. I don't like being here!"
Grandda had already gone into their bedroom, and came back out. He went over to the old black telephone and picking up the receiver, he asked the operator to ring Old Doc Jenkins number.
"Hello, Sissy? This here is Shane O'Hanlon. We need the Doc to come out here as soon as he can. My Martha is hurting something fierce, and needs him. An hour? He's out on another call? Okay, please send him out as soon as he comes in, would you?"
Then, turning to us, he said, "Martha Rose, would you look in the icebox and get some leftovers out and heat 'em up? We have to have something to eat. I'm sure we're all hungry. Now, get to it, girl!"
I could see that she didn't want to do it, but her fear of his reprisal overcame the 'don't want to' in her attitude, and she went into the kitchen. I went with her, in hopes of helping her. I didn't want her getting a back lashing. I also had an idea.
(To be continued)