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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Making it in Chesterville - Chapter 5

Annie Leaves for College

 She’s gone

Those words; “she’s gone” occupied my thoughts and were depressive.

Mr. Johnson came by the station and talked to me for a while. He said, “You have done a great job with the station. I never thought you would do so well but you fooled me.”

He went on saying, “Have you got a girlfriend now that you’re successful?”

I said, “No not anyone in particular.”

He said, “I thought you were interested in that girl Annie.”

I said, “No not really, we just went out a little, and now she is off to college.  I don’t think I’ll ever see her again.”

He said, “Oh, that’s too bad I thought she was a real nice girl and her people are well off you know.”

I said, ‘Yes that is true they are well off but just a little hard to get to know.”

“Oh, that’s too bad although that is a malady some rich folks have to deal with and not too successful I’m sorry to say.”

“Her father comes in and buys gas once in a while and I have worked on his car a couple of times. He did mention that Annie said to say hello to me, which I appreciated.”

Mr. Johnson said, “I was talking to the dean of the college in the next county over and he said enrollment was down and he was looking for a few more students and if I knew anyone to tell them to come and see him.”

He went on and said, “Why don’t you head on over and sign up. You could use some more education and it’s only about an hour’s drive from here. If you mention my name you’re sure to get in.”

I said, “You know Mr. Johnson no one in my family has ever gone past the eighth grade and for me to think about a college education seems strange to me.”

He said, “You could do it. You have plenty of time to study and that is half the battle.”

I said, “Thanks Mr. Johnson I’ll sure give it some thought.”

He said, “You do that and if you need any help at the station while you’re at school I’ll be glad to fill in cause I’m just sitting around doing next to nothing.”

I said, “That sounds good, I’ll let you know what I decide.”

“Go to college,” I thought, “Why not for I know I can do it. I’m smarter than a lot of these guys I know who are attending.”

The next day I went to see the dean and he gave me a list of things to do which wasn’t that hard or involved. With Mr. Johnson’s recommendation I was accepted right off. Mr. Johnson came to work for me and between he and Ronnie they had everything covered when I wasn’t there.

I was surprised that there were so many girls going to college. They were pretty friendly with me but I still had Annie in my mind. Each time I’m about to give up on her she sends me another letter but it is mostly about what she is doing and never anything personal like I miss you which  would just be one of many things that are meaningful she could say.

I never mention me going to college for I couldn’t see what purpose it would serve.

She wrote me and said she would spend Christmas with her folks but they would be out of town at her grandmother’s place during that time. She hoped to be able to say hello in person if she got the opportunity to do so.

That was a downer. I just wrote back and said it would be nice to see her but if it didn’t work out then have a Merry Christmas anyway.

No hello and goodbye

When she returned from her grandmothers it was time to return back to college for her. She called me up and said for me to meet her at the station for she would like to see me.

I with a chip on my shoulder went down to the station and waited for her to appear. Just as it was time for the train to leave, she and her former boyfriend came running and she just made it.

After she left the guy came over to me and said he had spent most of the Christmas with Annie and they had fun.

He then asked why I was there and I said, “I just like trains. They make me happy and don’t disappoint.”

He looked kinda weirded out and said so long. Although he is a liar I halfway believed him for he did bring her to the station.

Education of the grease monkey

Instead of waiting for the fall to enter college I started midterm. I didn’t have a clue as to what to take in college so along with others I sought out the school counselor and he said I should take accounting and banking.

I thought that was funny but went ahead and took his advice. He reasoned that since I was a businessman both of those courses would be of help in the future.

After a few weeks I could see that I needed more help in the station especially during the winter months, because I started delivering fuel to the farmers who had tractors and that was another reason to hire an extra man.

The man that was share cropping my two farms had a son John who was almost grown and wanted to work for me so I hired him.

Having been raised on the farm he knew a lot about machinery and between him and Ronnie they pretty well kept the mechanical work caught. The station required me to be there less and less.

There a few times when I had to stay over at college because of bad weather but Mr. Johnson kept things going.

He made my deposits so I didn’t have to be concerned about that important part of the business. During the summer I took some classes for extra credit which was catching me up with the fall classes.

Annie was home for part of the summer but I didn’t see much of her and when I did she was with her old boyfriend.  Seems whatever differences there was between them they resolved it.

I simply didn’t have time to date much. On occasion some gal would ask me out and I would go with her. It was usually to a church picnic or something like that.

There was one girl I went out with more than others and I enjoyed being out with her. She had been friends with Annie but had to wait another year before she could enter college.

Not that it mattered I think I still liked Annie the best of all the girls I went out with.

I would like to say courted but I never really courted her only dated her.

Fall semester started and it was then I realized there was a lot more to accounting that I thought. They said the third semester would be even more difficult but I figured I could take more time off as the guys working for me were doing a great job and I was needed less.

By attending what amounted to summer school I was going to complete my courses in three years. To my surprise I was getting some feelers from large companies for employment.

This was one thing I never expected because I was planning on hanging my diploma in my service station and then going back to work getting greasy.

Seems my whole outlook on life was changing. The people I was associating with were going to be professional people with good paying jobs. A few came out and told me they were planning on marrying a daughter of the president of some company.

They didn’t care which girl just so the father of his wife would move him on up in the business. They would smile and say marrying money is easier than working for it.  I had to agree that was true but so far I have avoided making part of my future plans although that did have some appeal to me.

Of course the girl’s fathers were not that naïve for they knew what these Romeos had in mind. Most of them would ignore the father’s scorn and pursue the girl even harder. And some of them were making head way.

One of the more distasteful times

Martin, Annie’s boyfriend’s family was well off seemingly although he didn’t have any money of his own. He was hoping that marriage to Annie would fix him for life.

Late in the fall I was working at the station on a project that Ronnie was having a problem with and I was dirty from it.  Martin and Annie came wheeling in and as I saw them I said I would take care of them.

When I came out Martin said fill it up boy. I said; “Yessur boss, right away boss, yessur boss.”

I filled the car up with gas and hustled around to clean the windshield and said yessur boss would yo lady like a cold drink boss.”

He said, ‘Honey would you like something to drink?”

Annie looked embarrassed and didn’t speak. He said, ‘Yeah give us two Dr. Peppers.”

“Yessur, boss, coming right up.”

I got two drinks from the coke box. Wiped the water from them and handed them to them after opening them up.

I said, “On the house boss, on the house and you can take the bottles with you.”

He paid me for the gas and with a big smile said, “It might of interest for you to know Annie and I are going to be married on Saturday.  I just thought you might want to know since you figured you were in the running.”

As he drove off he said, “So long… boy.”

I stood looking after them and had to admit he came out on top with that one. Yeah, that was the one thing he could have said that could get to me.

I knew I wasn’t really in the running for her hand, but yet I felt there was something between us. It was just a feeling and hearing this hurt.  It truly hurt more as the day wore on. It left a hole in my emotions, a void that at present I didn’t know how to fill.

Yeah I had to hand it to Martin; he really got me on that one.

Strangely Annie had nothing to say the whole time except under her breath she said, “Cut it out you two.”

I finished up my greasy project and cleaned up enough not to mess up my car and went home.

I determined not to let this unhappy moment ruin the rest of my life so I took a bath and called Alice to see if she wanted to go to a movie and she was right up for it.

Sweet Alice
Alice was a good companion on a date for she was always upbeat and outgoing. A couple of guys said they had their way with her but those guys lie so much I didn’t know whether to believe them or not. It really didn’t matter to me for that was her business and I was always at ease when with her but I wondered if I pushed it a bit if I could… anyway we never did.

I valued her as a friend more than a rumble in the back seat. Although I tried to hide it she knew something was bothering me.
On the way home that evening she moved over and put her arm around my shoulder and said, “Alright tell your sweet Alice all about it.”

I felt silly but I told her about what happened at the station with Martin and Annie.

She straightened up and said; “You lucky dog, you got clear of that mess.  Do you have any idea what would have happened if you married into that whole crazy family. There is so much fighting among the family members with poor Annie in the middle.  

Both families are in trouble financially and they are trying to join the money they have left by marrying Annie off to Martin.”

She continued, “You are better off financially than both families. The only reason you weren’t the target for Annie by her folks was your social standing.

Even though you are a business man, socially you’re looked upon as a person without status.”

I couldn’t help but ask Alice, “Just how do you know all this stuff?”

She said, “Easy because I work at the bank and we know everybody’s business financially and they talk while waiting to be served about their friend’s problems.”

When I took her home she gave me a friendship kiss and I headed to my place.

On my way I thought about Annie and her being trapped in this horrible situation.

I remembered the look on her face while Martin was telling me about their coming nuptials.  Poor Annie… being sold for dollars…in order to maintain a life style I wouldn’t have.

While I was at the station Martin came by and left me an invitation to the wedding. He had to have one last show of effrontery which caused me to say out loud; “I need to put a whip on that scoundrel.”

I heard the wedding went off well but the bride didn’t look very happy.

With the help of Alice, I had moved on. She had a way of taking bad issues and turning them into insignificant moments.  For me it was onward and upward.
To Be Continued


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