Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday, Spring break begins!

Went out to Taco time with a gift card.  $17.12 tooth pasts, soda, milk.  Took some pork riblets out of freezer will serve with rice.

     I sewed like a girl on fire yesterday so I could get out of town today sometime late afternoon.  The weather is gorgeous and I have a young man coming over to work in the yard.  I got all the bills paid and I am ready to rock and roll.  Just a few more things to do in the shop and I need to pack.  Want to leave the house semi reasonable, as I know Hub's won't do a darn thing while I am gone.

     I am so looking forward to seeing my grandson and his fish named Steve.

Do any of you have spring break?

Story Cont:

     Nels was expecting a package of radio parts via the train and the closest connection to the apartment was farther than he usually traveled with the little girls.  The weather was getting warmer every day and Nels felt that if he packed a lunch and took an extra blanket in the cart he could get to the station and the girls could nap on the way back.  It was a completely different route and he could point out sites that would be able to hold their attention. Nels made a pleasant picture as he went down the street. A tall blond boy pulling a large wooden wagon with three small girls.  Violet sat next to Audra on a seat fashioned across the front.  Audra was strapped in and both had their chubby stockinged legs hung down.  Audra was especially proud of her little red boots and spent a good part of the journey staring at them as she would lift them to stick straight out in front of her.  Ruth sat inside the wagon bed and could kneel if she chose to as she hung on to the side.

       The funny thing about the Bjorklund children is that they all looked alike, yet each of them very different.  They all had the same deep blue eyes, their fathers eyes.  Mother's had been brown.  She often laughed about the fact that she could not produce a brown eyed child.  The children's hair was either wavy or very curly and all had the same sandy red/blond color except Violet who had dark black hair.  They were  exceptionally pretty little children but as they grew older the family features of a large nose took over and the boys had extremely large ears.  They did not stick out (thank goodness) but were like saucers on either side of their heads.  What made them look alike was the shape of their faces which were wide and somewhat flat.  The tilt of the eyes was almost oriental and Millie,Oscar and Peter all had very dark coloring.  The darker skin, the shape of the eyes and the flatter face spoke of a Lapland some where in the family tree. There was just a strong family resemblance among them and it became much more obvious when they were together talking or laughing.

     Millie kept the girls hair braided in two pigtails down the sides of their heads and Audra's braids stuck straight out like her boots.   Millie made their little dresses and coats.  Today they were wearing  brown and blue plaid with their brown wool winter coats.  It was warm enough to keep the coats unbuttoned, but too chilly yet to take them off.  Nels was warm pulling the wagon, he had put his coat in the back and had rolled up his sleeves, exposing long white forearms.  His pants were a little short showing the tops of his boots. He had grown since they were made.  Millie would let them down when she had the time, or she would cut them down for the next brother. It took one and a half hours for Nels to get to the depot and Ruth was clamoring for a place to GO!

     He thought he had covered everything, but how could he take all three girls into a public restroom in the station?  Where could he leave the wagon?  The two older ones were not old enough to go on their own.  He stood perplexed outside the depot.

     Unstrapping Audra he swung her onto his hip, while Ruth danced up and down bleating.  Just then a station man came out the door of the depot, he paused to light a cigarette. His uniform was unbuttoned, he was just heading home from his shift.   He must have recognized the dance of desperation that Ruth was performing  because he gave Nels directions to the closest toilet and offered to watch the wagon. The uniform was all Nels needed to ensure his trust and he was off in a flash to get the girls to the stalls in time.  Nels would have to think this kind of a trip through more carefully.  He had thought of food, drinks, a change of clothes for Audra, but not about the fact that the older ones might have to be left alone, and what would happen to the wagon when out of his sight? Millie was always saying to be grateful for providence and he hated it when she was right.  Returning to the wagon he thanked the station man who told him if he hurried he could meet the mail car before it unloaded.  He should be able to pick up his parcel right on the platform.  He then directed Nels down a short cut through two buildings to the mail platform.

     Nels was surprised at the number of people waiting to pick up packages.  Everyone was so interesting. Men in nice business suits and ties stood talking.  Several maids in uniform were waiting obviously for their employers. Pretty girls in spring coats and jackets, secretaries they were called stood waiting, eying each others wardrobe choices and hoping to attract the attention of one of the well dressed men. There was a black man in a kind of overall and floppy hat waiting slightly away from the others.The little girls stared and stared at him.  He smiled, his teeth were so white.  Audra let out whoop and Nels was very embarrassed.  The man did not seem to mind much to Nels relief.

     There was a general hub bub of noise on the platform as people waited for the train car to be unhooked and pushed up to the waiting crowd.  Two cars were linked together and pushed by a small steam engine into place.  A station master with a large book and two men came to the first car, when is was opened it was full of different looking machines.  This was not mail.  A tall gentleman went up to the station master and signed for the car's contents and then started to help a couple of teamster's unload.

     Nels turned his attention to the mail car and people started to jostle and cue up to get things as their names were called. As the station master shouted people stepped forward to claim what was theirs.  The dark man was one of the first to get his goods and it appeared to be baby chicks from the sound and shape of the box.  The box had the strong smell of chicken manure.  Many others were called before Nels, finally he heard Bjorklund!  He retrieved his package and was setting it in the back of the wagon when the tall gentleman from the rail car full of machinery called out, "Did I hear you are a Bjorklund?"  The man's dialect was from Nels home province in Sweden.  Nels nodded the affirmative and the man stepped across the platform to shake his hand.  It was always a welcome to find a countryman, but one from your own province was special.

     Nels and the man exchanged pleasantries.  His name was Olaf Ericson and he was with a company that sold farm equipment in the mid west.  Mostly his territory was Minnesota and the Dakotas.  During the off season when farm equipment was not needed he was sent to represent other smaller bits of machinery and appliances to help round out the selling season.  He seemed to have a real distaste for his current route and inventory.  He was delivering and selling washing machines and he spoke of them as if ashamed.  Nels had heard of gasoline operated washing machines and had read about them.  He had even seen one once in the back courtyard of an expensive home where he had fixed a Victrola.  It had been a loud smelly contraption that looked as if possessed. When running it actually shimmied across the cobblestones. Nels love of all things mechanical especially if it was new or had a motor made him curious, but he had not had the time to stop and really examine the noisy monster.  Here, here was his countryman had a whole car full.

     The teamster and his helper were trying to get as many of the white enameled machines on the horse drawn flat wagon as possible, but they had yet to tie the tubs down.  As the last three machines were loaded a small steam car let out and awful roar and everyone including the horse jumped a little.  That little was too much and three of the heavy tub like vessels fell with a crash off the back of the wagon.  Olaf Erickson let out a stream of profanities in Swedish, which caused Violet to cover her ears.  The younger two understood his tone and looked scared, Violet however remembered enough of her old language to recognize a word or two.  When the children were living in Stockholm while waiting for the trip to America they had been surrounded by nefarious language on a daily basis. Nels winked at Violet and smiled to calm the younger two then hurried over to help Olaf right the machines.

     "These can never be sold as new they are damaged," shouted Olaf and he kicked at one of the machines.  As Nels help to upright a machine the motor which was loosened by the fall made a clanking noise and drug across the ground.  "I don't care what the company says, these washers are just expensive pieces of useless skra'pe."  (junk)  " They are constantly shaking apart in shipping from the Ohio factory."  "I spend more time trying to get replacement parts and fixing broken machines than I do selling them." Moaned Olaj.  Nels had bent over and was examining the broken motor clamp.  "Where will you take these?" asked Nels.  "I have a warehouse about three blocks from here.  This is my last shipment before I will return to start the spring season selling on my regular route.  I will be replaced with another salesman and return to Ohio to take a shipment of Thrashers to Minneapolis in two weeks.  Now I have another three machines for the scrap pile."    Nels was shocked, he did not see that much wrong with two of the machines other than scratches and dents.  The wringer had been knocked off one, but it could be fixed.

       Nels began to see an opportunity and he never missed an opportunity. " I think I can fix these machines." He said.  "Well I can't remove the dents or the scratches but I think I can repair them so they operate."
"Oh, I can fix them too, but I don't have the time, I have a route of deliveries to make and it costs more for the company to ship these back than for me to just take them to the warehouse and use them as parts.  Right now these three machines will cost me a good part of my commission and that I cannot afford," Olaf said with disgust.  Audra was starting to whimper ,she was wet and  the girls were getting hungry. Nels pulled a  beet colored boiled egg out of the lunch box and handed it to Audra. Olaf took note immediately and asked if Nels mother had made the egg. "No, my sister did  and if you want a good Swedish cold luncha'  I will treat you if you take me to this warehouse of yours." Nels said with a smile.

     By the time Olaf and Nels were done with lunch and the girls were all asleep in the wagon bed with a blanket over them, Nels had made a deal with Olaf to fix as many of his machines as possible in the next two weeks.  Olaf would have to get a larger wagon to bring everything over to Nels address.  They shook hands as countrymen and Nels with a few wash machine motors and a box full of scrap parts took off on a fast clip for home.  He had to find a place for the machines that were coming.  There was not room in the apartment and the butcher shop at night only held one or two larger radio consoles.  Where was he going to put washing machines?  Nels couldn't be worried or frightened, he was just excited.

     When he pulled the wagon into the front hall of the building, he rushed into Strom's shop.  He was talking so fast, that Mr. Strom said, "Slow down, slow down, what is this all about?'  Mrs. Strom came from the back and when she saw Nels all flushed and agitated immediately thought of the little girls.   "The kinder"? she said with alarm.  "No, no, they are fine, asleep in the wagon, they have had a big day and so have I." said Nels.  Mrs. Strom went out to the hall and picked up the sleeping Audra from the wagon bed, while Nels explained to Mr. Strom his good fortune and problem all at the same time.  When Mrs. Strom finally realized what he was talking about she was also excited.  To think about having a washing machine.  How much work this would save.  But equipment like that was far too expensive and with just the two of them it would be wasteful, Mrs. Strom explained. " Yes, yes," Nels understood, but right now he had several wash machines coming to this address, what was he going to do?  Where was he going to put them?  "How many machines?" asked Mrs. Strom still dreaming.  "I don't know", said Nels.  "You don't know?" she asked again in disbelief.

      Both Nels and Mr. Strom stood in the shop not saying a word.  Strom was scratching his head and Nels was twisting his cap in his hands. "Manskap!" (men)cried Mrs. Strom and hurried down the long narrow hall to the back of the building.  Nels pulled the wagon to it's storage spot and followed Mrs. Strom out the back door into the large courtyard shared by all the tenants.  Here were the two hand pumps for water and the never ending lines of wash.  The owner of the building was very strict about what was kept in the yard.  He would not allow tenants to store things in the halls or bring anything but wash into the courtyard.  He didn't want trash and heaps of old refuse around his building.

       There was a large lean to shed against the back of the Strom apartment.  Nels knew it belonged to the Stroms and had been built on to the apartment house to store sides of meat cold weather.  Mr. Strom had good intentions, but he also liked to collect things and eventually the cold storage had become a catch all for fracca' ( stuff of some value to the owner but useless to others). Mrs. Strom handed the sleeping Audra to Mr. Strom and unbolted the door to the lean to.  She started to hand out things to Nels. "This, this, and this can go", she said.  Nels  was given an old beat up wash basin, a large piece of copper pipe and a broken kerosene lamp.  "Such treasures." she said.  Mr Strom, looked shocked and bewildered. "It must go, it must go, it all must go, Mrs. Strom mumbled as she delved farther into the mouth of the shed,"today we are getting washing machines."   The fact that the lean to had no lock on it to protect the contents only attested to the value of the odd allotment of things Mrs. Strom was soon throwing into the courtyard.  Mr. Strom did not even argue, but carried the still sleeping Audra back into the shop. After all they were getting washing machines.

cont:

Have a great and productive day.


Kim

5 comments:

  1. Spring Break is already gone. Have fun with your grandson! Glad you have beautiful weather - us too!

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  2. Love the story! And I hope you have a wonderful time with the grandkid!!!

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  3. As of 5 o'clock tonight I am on Spring Break until Tuesday April 7. Believe me when I say I need the break from work. Hope you have a great trip with wonderful time with your grandson.

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  4. Happy trails! Thanks for the story!

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