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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bringing Home the Duncan Phyfe: Chapter 24

Virg and Bev

They would only skate a few more times that winter, but whenever it snowed, Mom called home to ask if the lights were on at Palmer just to picture it. It's good to have a place to go--if only in your mind--when life begins to twirl too fast.

It was now December, and though this year had already brought many changes, the most abrupt were yet to come.

Dad worked out a deal with their landlord that if they moved out of the "no baby" apartment by December 15th, they could get their entire deposit back. So just ten days before Christmas, Mom and Dad were hauling the few things they from White to Wells Street.

The Duncan Phyfe dinette that blocked the archway had been there three weeks to the day when Dad and a friend carried it back down the stairs to a borrowed pick-up truck—no walking behind the Ford this time. They packed it between the sofa with the spring that came through the center cushion and the mattress of the bed that fell those months before. The Firestone refrigerator and a few other pieces would require a second trip, but it was an easy mile-and-a half move just past Lapeer Avenue toward the river.

This friend that helped Dad move was Virgil Palmer—no he was not related to the namesake of Palmer Park. Everyone called him Virg (as in “on the verge of…”). He worked with Dad at Bell Telephone. Mom had first met Virg in the receiving line at their wedding. Dad had tacked a wedding invitation up on the bulletin board at the dispatch building. They had properly invited all the men at work that Dad knew well, but he tacked an extra invitation on the board as more of an announcement—a way to explain the twinkle in his eye the days before and after his one-week disappearance for the honeymoon.

Dad was surprised that Virg actually showed up because of the invitation on the bulletin board. He was married but came alone since his wife didn't know either Don or Bev. (That would soon change.) Virg was a heavy smoker and his throaty laugh rang out in that little Methodist church as they chatted in the receiving line. It was the kind of laugh that did not adapt to settings. It bubbled up from deep within, gained a raspy edge in his throat, then pulsated out into the air like the song of a handsaw cutting wood. It was the same laugh whether he was standing in the cold beside his Bell truck or elbow to elbow with strangers at a wedding. It wasn’t rude. It was just Virg, and you couldn’t help but like him.

Little did Mom know when she met her husband’s friend that that laugh and vigorous handshake would become an integral part of their life. Not only did Virg help them move from White to Wells Street, but he and his wife, who name was also Bev, began spending more and more time with Dad and Mom after that move.

The friendships of early-married life often begin with existing prenuptial friends and siblings. Gradually new friends enter the scene. If the wife makes a new married friend, the two husbands are forced into social settings and may or may not become friends themselves. This was how it worked for most of my father’s married life… BUT in the case of Don and Virg and the two Bevs, it was the other way around. The wives were along for the ride at first.

It seemed the only thing they had in common was the fact that they were both very pregnant. The two women were quite the pair, waddling together wherever they went. One day when Mrs. Palmer was full term Mom and Dad saw the Palmers from a distance on the sidewalk in front of Sperry’s. Mom began shouting “Hey, Virg and Bev! We’re over here. Virg and Bev!” But they didn’t hear her so she said it louder, “Virg and Bev!”

Finally, Bev Palmer shushed her, and with a red face she waddled up to mom and whispered loudly, “If you’re going to shout it—at least shout ‘Bev and Virg’ instead of Virgin Bev. I mean, look at me for Pete’s sake, and here you are yelling ‘Virgin Bev!’ It sounds blasphemous!” It had never occurred to Mom how the names sounded together, but from then on, she discreetly used Bev’s name first when she called to them in public—and she was equally discreet as she told this story with a laugh to everyone they met for years to come.

Now back to that week in December, 1951.

[This chapter was written on the 28th, but it post-dated and added later in sequence before chapter 25. I decided that it was essential to introduce Virg and Bev before the epilogue.]


Blogger Nancy said...

This is so funny. I am still smiling as I type... I can just picture the scene. I think friends are so important to newlyweds and new moms. (They have been in my life and I can see the importance in the life of my newlyweds.) I look forward to hearing more about Virg and Bev- I mean Bev and Virg! hehe

28/12/07 11:06 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

You're probably the only person who'll read this post because it got buried by the Epilogue. =)
I had some time to write while we were in Kansas so it all kind of wrapped up in a hurry. But the good news is I got a hard copy printed out in book form for Mom. We're going to see her Saturday and stay over there through New Years. I caught lots of mistakes in the blog posts as I converted them to page form. Oh, well...
Thanks for all your encouragement through this long project.

29/12/07 1:36 AM  

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