January 10, 2005
Dear Throwers and Evankos,
It was with the greatest of pleasure we read your thoughtful Christmas notes. We’ve never received more welcome correspondence. Torie’s report on Toshie’s progress was particularly appreciated. Thank you all for taking time to write, and doing it so well.
As you can imagine, Christmas this year was tinged with a slight bit of melancholy, but even that was alleviated by the memory of wonderful and somewhat odd meeting your Aunt Loie and I had about two months ago. You may recall the old “Edgetts 17” cast iron sign that hung on the pillar at Bellview? Father called us a while ago and told us that the new owners of Bellview were saving it for us: Father had neglected to take it away with him when cleaning out the house. He asked if we could go rescue it from the trunk of Monica Smith’s car. It was with some trepidation we agreed to do so. We weren’t sure we really wanted to visit Bellview so soon after it had been sold, and see the old place being changed. But, duty is duty, and so we went to pick up Yo’s mail, do some other errands, and swing by Bellview to pick up the sign. To our great and lasting surprise, it turned out to be a story to be told.
At the post office, the postmistress was at pains to tell us the Smiths wanted to make sure we did not turn in the old post office box, Number 123, without first letting them know, so they could get it. “The number has to stay with the house,” said the postmistress. “Everyone thinks so.” We told her we’d be sure to remember.
At Bellview, Monica’s husband waved hello from the back yard where he was obviously deep in some garden cleaning, looking somewhat bemused. We soon learned why. Monica came out of the front door, and rushed to greet us. “You must come in to see the house,” she said. We passed her car in the driveway and she got out the sign right away. She meant for us to have it; it seemed important to her. Aunt Loie had greeted Monica, and walked up to the porch, but then she hung back, and eventually went out to her car. I went in with Monica, and saw why Mr. Smith had looked a bit “bemused:” there was plastic sheeting and sawdust all over. The old house was getting a nice face lift!
And yet, there were books filling the shelves in the den. That looked just right. Monica told me she was having new crown molding put in. The old shutters were still in the living and dining room windows. Then Monica started telling me about her planning the renovations.
“I found a picture of Audrey,” she said (I never did ask her where it had turned up; perhaps that will forever remain an happy mystery), “And I put it in a frame. Now, whenever I’m thinking of some change, I talk to Audrey about it.
“Did she really have a Christmas tree in the pavilion?” I told her yes, that was a routine for a few years, and the reason electricity had been run out to it. “Oh, good,” said Monica. “That’s what someone told me. I’m going to continue that tradition. Now, what is this picture in the kitchen? Did you draw that?” She was now pointing to Monkey Boy. I explained how he had begun as one of many chips in the paint of the Wall of Art, created by the tape rolls that held up all the school art and cards and things we kids had made so long ago. Monica just nodded at that. Perhaps little Monkey Boy will be preserved through yet another kitchen paint job? I told her a bit more about the house, how Yo had chosen the Wedgewood blue, and I had painted it once, and showed her where I had painted my initials on a discreet side of the fireplace mantel bricks. Then it was time to go; Aunt Loie was waiting.
Not too long before Christmas, I was running some errands and drove by Bellview. Sure enough, there was a tree in the pavilion, all decked in white lights. One white candle stood in every window. Yo’s house looked lovely. It was very nice to see Bellview having new owners who love it so.
Christmas Eve this year was the traditional dinner at Aunt Loie’s Aunt Dolores’ house in Baltimore, and was very pleasant. Aunt Dolores invited her next door neighbors this year, and they were a welcome addition to the company. Christmas Day was spent at Aunt Terrie and Uncle Peter’s house. We had a buffet instead of a sit down dinner, and invited friends to come for an open house. To our surprise, we had a crowd! Alyssa’s brother Brian and his friend Chris were there, and Brian’s friend Julie showed up, too. Both Peeling families came over; Father and Freidrun came out and stayed all afternoon; the Hatfields came by; some neighbors stopped in and a good time was had by all. It was a nice memorial for Yo to be able to tell the story of Monica’s keeping alive so many good old traditions. Laura Peeling especially liked hearing that Monica was “consulting Yo” about plans for Bellview. And everyone laughed when I told them I have the old Bellview sign, but no idea what to do with it!
We did have a little dusting of snow before Christmas to help us get in a Christmas mood, but it didn’t last at all. The New Year’s Eve party at Kathy and Mark Peelings was made spectacular by Aunt Terrie and Uncle Pete’s stunning fireworks, and it was warm enough that many of us were outside at midnight for the show in light jackets. Many of the men, at any rate! New Year’s Day was so warm it felt Spring had arrived. We’ve never had a bigger crowd for the Tree Planting; that was due to the nice warm weather. Kent will smile when I tell you the ground never dug so easily. That’s a relief for an old back.
We were happy to hear about Toshie’s progress and Nickie’s good grades. We’re also happy to know that Torie’s team’s poor showing so far hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for the game. There’s always next year!
I’m enclosing a little project for you all. Perhaps you remember Toshie’s stories? I have had them for way too long, entering them in my computer. And of course, I couldn’t resist doing a bit of editing as I went along. So, you will find herewith both the original stories, written on Aunt Loie’s electric typewriter so long ago, and the new versions as well. You might while away a few hours reading them over together, finding the places they’ve been changed, and deciding which versions you like better. Any comments you might have, either praise or criticism, would be greatly appreciated.
In closing I wish you all to know that our thoughts are with you; we hope to see you soon; and until then we remain,
Aunt Loie and Uncle Bucky