Counting Blessings

Nov 12, 2011 | 0 comments

The Stevens' fence is falling down, falling down...

     We’re beginning to think of these last few months as “The Autumn of Calamities.”  First the wretched water pump on the car needed to be replaced.  Now our north fence is falling down.  We can only hope that when we had half of the roof replaced last summer it was the correct half.  We don’t need our troubles to come in the usual threes.
     It has helped to stave off gloom and doom that I have been deep into a research project involving correspondence between my grandparents and my Uncle Willard.  Most recently, I’ve been reading the letters to and fro that were written right after World War II.  Things here in Oysterville, and on the Peninsula in general, were in a sad state.  Goods – any kind of goods – were scarce and workmen were even scarcer.
     My grandmother reported that gradually the men were coming home and she was hopeful that things would get better soon.  Meanwhile, on February 11, 1946, she wrote:
     We are feeling pretty much in the depths as the whole place seems to be going to pieces at once.  Because the shingles were not all put on last Fall our north side is leaking badly, especially in the living room.  Even if there were such a thing as a paperhanger, we could not have any hung until the roof is fixed and so it goes all over the place.  The east door will not open and pa has tried everything…
     A few weeks later, on March 6, she wrote:
     We have no idea whether our own house will be standing when you arrive.  It is in a deplorable state of dilapidation – leaks from end to end, windows do not work, doors do not open, the paper is hanging in festoons in the living room.  The plastering in the upstairs hall has fallen down in chunks.  The oil stove is blocked up with timbers and the kitchen is afloat.  I have to put my galoshes on to go in there in the mornings.  Yes, and there is no light in the bathroom.  The fixture, itself, is broken and does not turn on.  The radio has been at the shop for a month and both clocks have stopped short.  There are plenty of other things which I will not try to enumerate.  We have given up hope of ever living like civilized human being again but it is said that more workmen are arriving now… so we hope again.
     Apparently, in spite of all, the house survived.  Just three months later, I arrived for the summer, and I don’t remember any trauma or travail with regard to this dear old place.  Of course, I probably wouldn’t; I was only ten years old and coming to Oysterville for the summer was just about the best thing in the world.  The state of the house mattered not.
     As I read my grandmother’s words of all those long years ago, I couldn’t help but count my blessings, not the least of which is having those letters with her wry humor at my fingertips. 

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