In this blog:
Esmeralda St Benedict
Remember This: Iron Teeth, Cheyenne Woman
Robbie’s Aunt’s Winter Chicken Casserole
Notes from Joy
The BOOB Girl Books
Esmeralda St Benedict
“You won’t believe what I did!” Hadley Joy Morris Whitfield looked like the cat who swallowed a canary. Her eyes twinkled, her lips formed a wide smile and her hips bounced just a little as if she had really good news.
They looked at her.
“I put a bell on Beulah Buttsrock’s Hall Monitor Walker,” Hadley boasted.
Three other women were seated at Table 12: Marge Aaron, retired homicide detective, Dr. Robinson Leary, retired Creighton University professor and Mary Rose McGill-Vonda, a sweet Catholic girl.
“A bell?” Robbie asked, smiling at Hadley who stood beside them, still grinning.
“You know,” Hadley answered, “Beulah is deaf as a doorknob, so I hung a good-sized bell on the back of her walker. Now we can hear her coming.”
Beulah Buttsrock was a self-appointed hall monitor. During their Pandemic Poop times, Beulah had made sure they were six feet apart, their masks were up, they did not gather and were made immeasurably more miserable than called for by the pandemic alone. The girls had decorated her walker with a rope of silver tinsel, white flowers and given her a hall monitor badge. To their surprise, Beulah had taken it seriously and given Alphonso Greatwood, Meadow Lakes’ owner, credit and thanks.
Hadley pulled up a chair and poured herself a cup of coffee from the pot that waited in the center of table 12.
That’s when they heard Beulah’s bell. Clank, clank, clank, clank.
In just a second the big door to the dining room crashed open and Zed Zonker, barefoot and in his striped pajamas, bounded into the dining room doing a hurried power limp.
Right behind him was Beulah, bell clanking, tinsel flying and dragging behind her, a wicked gleam in her eyes.
“Down!” Marge yelled, and they all dropped, as fast as they could, and hid under the big table.
They watched as Beulah gave chase and Zed gave run/limp through the dining room and out the other dining room door.
The girls got up slowly, holding onto the seats of their chairs to help them get to their feet.
“Haven’t had that much excitement since Zed Zonker streaked the dining room one lunchtime,” Robbie said, cherishing the memory.
“He was being chased by a chicken, if I remember right,” Mary Rose added.
“Oh,” Hadley said, “Remember when Frieda Grossmouth crashed her 1962 pink Cadillac Eldorado through that window?” She pointed to the largest floor-to-ceiling window in the dining room. “The window shattered, and the Cadillac flew in and landed square on table 12 where we had been sitting.”
“Esmeralda St Benedict saved our lives when she made us move from the table just seconds before the car came through the window,” Mary Rose added.
“I’ve heard her name, but I didn’t hear about the Caddy,” Marge said. She had come to Meadow Lakes a year after Esmeralda had taken the girls, Wiley, and Wes Longbow to Fort Robinson, in out-state Nebraska, where they had dreamed themselves back into the history of the fort and found their own souls.
“She was a gypsy sorceress,” Mary Rose said, her eyes wide.
“Do you remember the conversation she had with Wiley as they watched Frieda’s big pink car fall apart in front of them?” Hadley asked.
“The radiator wept all of the place,” Robbie said.
“The door fell off,” Mary Rose added.
“Frieda’s red hat fell over her eyes and she thought she was blind,” Hadley smiled.
“And Esmeralda and Wiley talked about old cars,” Mary Rose said.
Hadley began the story:
“They stood there looking at the car literally go to pieces, and Wiley said, ‘They don’t make ‘em like that anymore. She must have at least 150,000 miles on that beauty.’
‘Theese eese true,’ the gypsy said, nodding in agreement. ‘But zee 1952 Thunderbird had better fins.’
‘And it looked great with a Continental Kit on the bac,’ Wiley added.
The Cadillac’s radiator blew its top and water ran over the headlights, looking like pitiful tears.
That eeze a sweet hood ornament,’ Esmeralda said, pointing at the Cadillac. ‘A big bird.’
Wiley nodded. ‘An eagle. I had a necking knob on my 1953 Ford truck.’
‘A necking knob?’
‘Yeah,’ Wiley cupped his hand as if he were holding a doorknob. ‘It went on the steering wheel and you drove holding onto it with your left hand so you could have your right arm around the pretty girl sitting next to you.’
He put his arm around Esmeralda to demonstrate.
‘Theese eeze a vonderful invention, Wiley Vondra,’ Esmeralda smiled.
‘And we had bench seats, none of this power steering or bucket seats. There were curb feelers that reached out to protect your snazzy white-wall tires,’ Wiley informed her.
‘Oh yes! And do you remember zee window screens?’
‘Those little windows at the top of the side windows you could push open for air without opening the whole window.’
The Caddy’s windshield wipers unexpectantly gave one swipe and died.
‘Got a car stolen one time because of those things,’ Wiley told her. ‘Somebody just pushed one open from the outside, reached in, opened the door, hot-wired the sucker and took off.’
Frieda’s Cadillac’s passenger side down had fallen onto the floor with a soft bang. Air wheezed out of one tire.
‘I remember zee Fender Skirts,’ Esmeralda added. She turned to Wiley, looking excited, ‘And ve called them Emergency Brakes, not zee Parking Brakes.”
Frieda’s tailpipe gave a long, slow moan like a polite fart. One side of the car sank lower than the other.
‘And what vas best,’ Esmeralda said, turning toward Wiley, ‘was zee beautiful fuzzy dice that hung from zee rear view mirror.’
Wiley nodded in agreement as Frieda’s second tire went flat.
‘I had a Dixie Horn,’ Wiley remembered with a sad look. Esmeralda patted his shoulder.
Frieda was safely out of the old Caddy. It promised not to blow up, just leak magnificently.
She stood with her eyeglasses hanging from one ear, leaning on Hadley. Her purple dress was crooked and her red hat had been pulled up so she could see.
‘I think I stepped on the wrong pedal,’ she said.”
Remember this? Iron Teeth Cheyenne Woman
Book III: Sandhills and Shadows
On a cold winter night in 1879, 150 Cheyenne Indians broke out of the “Prison House” at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, after being there for eleven days with no food and water for only three days. They were walking from Oklahoma to Red Cloud Agency and were captured and imprisoned at Fort Rob. In Robbie’s dream, she meets Iron Teeth, the powerful Cheyenne woman captured with her son and two young daughters.
“We ran. My son took one daughter on his back and I took the other. I found a cave. My daughter and I hid there for one week. We ate snow. My fingers and toes were frozen. They found us and took us back to the Prison House. After a few days, my other daughter was found and brought to me. My son found a deep pit and hid her there. He covered her with leaves and twigs and told her when it was safe to go find me. The soldiers were on him and he was killed.”
In Sandhills and Shadows Wiley meets a German prisoner of war and tells him about his trauma in Korea, Mary Rose McGill dreams about the hard life in the brothels of Crawford, Nebraska, Hadley dreams of her father in World War II, Robbie meets Iron Teeth and Wes Longbow, Hadley’s love, witnesses the murder of Crazy Horse.
It is of dreams such as this that we visit with our souls.
Robbie’s Aunt’s Winter Chicken Casserole
½ Cup Chopped Celery 6 pimiento-stuffed olives 5 Cups wide egg noodles
¼ Cup chopped onion 2 cups milk 2 Tablespoon chopped carrots
2 Tablespoons butter 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 jar sliced mushrooms I can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
Topping:1/2 Cup Cornflake crumbs, ¼ Cup shredded cheese, 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
In a large skillet, saute the celery, onion and green pepper in butter. Remove from the heat; stir in the chicken, mushrooms, olives, soup, milk and noodles.
Transfer to a 2-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle around edge of casserole; bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
A Note From Joy
Mary Rose McGill, in one of her wisdom moments talks about how important it is to laugh.
“Laughing,” she says, “is jogging on the inside.” The word here at Arboretum Village last Wednesday was, “They shoot old people here!” We lined up like cattle to the slaughter and, led on by apples, oranges, and donuts, got shot. Round One – vaccine.
There is a picture of Ted on my Facebook page of Ted, tucking in his shirt right after he got his shot.
“You’re tucking in your shirt.”
“Just where did she shoot you?”
“She was cute.”
And at the very end is a laugh out loud story from Dolly Parton. Enjoy.
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