• Shelbyville Chapter Two

    by Jane Roland

    I left you with sharing my first kiss, in the park on the Fourth of July.

    The summer continued and I was soon looking forward to returning home. We boarded the train in Indianapolis, once again housed in a compartment. And once again my mother befriended the person in the next room, a young Naval Officer, Dick Reynolds, who, coincidentally, was headed for Tucson and the Navy School which was housed at the University. He played a rudimentary game of bridge; they found a couple of others (after attempting to teach me, an 11 year-old).

    When we landed, Mother offered the maid’s house on our grounds to her new “adopted” son. He accepted with pleasure, in exchange for taking care of odd jobs, trimming trees and mowing the lawn. I don’t believe many of the chores were accomplished but he had dinner with us most nights, His wife, Marjorie, and very young daughter, Caroline, lived in Stockton and visited a couple of times. Dick played the piano and entertained us with all of the popular songs of yesterday and the current times.  It was a delightful period.

    A few years later, in 1945, we returned to Shelbyville. This time Mother elected to drive and found a college student who was heading for home in Indiana, to assist. As I recall it was not a pleasant trip, the assistant chauffeur was not very communicative nor was he clean. It was the days prior to automobile air-conditioning and we had a bag that hung on the window which, allegedly, circulated air. The motel situation was deplorable so we spent most nights on the road in second rate hotels. We also had both dogs with us — a Scottie, Duke and wire haired terrier, Pat. Neither was able to acclimate to the long trip and were unhappy until we arrived at our destination.

    Shelbyville hadn’t changed as yet. My first love was no longer interested but there were other young people. Howard Eichesdoefer had returned from the war, a decorated soldier, and was life-guarding at the local plunge. I thought he was a dream and had a terrific crush; he had evolved from a fat little boy I knew when we were small to a “hunk.”  At 19 he found the 13 year-old guest in his home a pain in the neck. Ike had died succumbing to the ravages of liquor. I missed him. Mary was more dour than ever, while she had berated her errant husband and adored her son, neither was around (Howard was off with his friends most of the time), she was sour and angry. However she loved the dogs and they returned home a few pounds heavier. She didn’t really know how to react to a teenage female and, frankly, nor did my mother and there was considerable talk about sending me to boarding school at Tudor Hall in Indianapolis.

    My friends and I found much to do. We frequented the center on the town square which offered food, drinks and games. We spent a lot of time in this retreat. In the evenings we would catch fireflies in a bottle, play croquet, throw horseshoes, attend the single movie theater and hang out in general. There was an elderly woman across the street who had a library full of the classics which she made available. I really loved the town and the feel of it. There is something romantic about walking along tree shaded sidewalks. At night, when it became dark, I would scurry home hearing footsteps behind me and running for protection. The sounds were, of course, a result of a mind full of the mystery of Sherlock Holmes and the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  Gracie Porter sent from Tucson the Adventures of Mary Worth so I could stay well up on our favorite comic paper character missing in the local newspaper. Occasionally we would drive to Indianapolis to shop which was highlighted by lunch in the Aires Tea Room which served a coconut cream pie I shall never forget.

    Then it was over, time to go home. Mother found another college student who was heading back to the University.  We bid adieu to Mary and started out.

    It wasn’t long before there was a noticeable problem with the motor. Steam erupted from under the hood. Naturally this occurred miles from no where, near one of those towns with six people, five of whom were in the fields. The problem was a blanket that had been thrown over the engine. Mary, who didn’t drive, had feared that the rain the night before our departure might damage the mechanical function and wanted to keep it dry. Time and an outlay of funds resolved the issue and we were on our way.

    This driver, Stewart Bailey, was wonderful, clean, cheerful and a youth who was to become a long time friend. I saw George and Jane Breedlove 10 years later at the bar in the Casa Madrona Hotel in Sausalito, not having communicated for years. It is, indeed, a very small world.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on July 11, 2013

    Topics: Animal Tales and Other Random Thoughts

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