The long prairie roads could stretch out
over a monotonous distance without even trying. The rocks used to gravel
the roads were often sharp pointed and a nuisance to anyone who might
not have the newest of tires. The elderly couple standing out side their
car could be seen as a silhouette for a distance at the ridge of one of
the gentle low hills. As far away as they were, it could be felt there
was a hopelessness about the two people's attitude. She was
standing to the side and behind, looking down at him. Her hands
she held together in front of her almost as if she wanted to wring them.
He was on his knees beside the flat tire he was fumbling at while making
an attempt to take it off the car. Mr. and Mrs. Custer were an aging
couple who had lived for many years on this same prairie. She was
a very small woman with what might be called a delicate build, small and
slender. Her dress was of another time and day and it was neat.
The little hat she wore protected her very gray hair which she had
pulled back into a bun, and one felt she wore the hat only on an
occasion when they would be going to town. He was not much bigger
than she was and with his age and stooped posture it was clear the frail
older man was at risk to deal with a flat tire. It was upon this scene
the young couple arrived.
"What'd jah do? Come down with
a flat?" the younger man leaned out his window and called in
a friendly way to the older man.
"Yep, Oh yeah," sure as the
world. It's a flat, all right!" The elderly man agreed.
Jill's husband was young and full of
energy. He was easily out of the pick-up and making the change of
the tire with a grace almost as if it was a dance to which he was
accustomed to step through and often. The chore was
completed and the little couple could not seem to thank the younger
couple enough. They wanted to pay for the tire being changed.
With this offer being made their benefactors were quite certain in their
refusal to accept money.
"If you don't mind we'll just follow
along behind you folks until you get to the main road," and the
subject was closed.
The younger couple never saw the old man
and his wife again. The community was small but each family had
their own little circle wherein they circulated. Often a crossing
of paths would be just like this. There would be a brief moment
and exchange and then seldom again would the same situation ever arrive.
However, as the young couple went on away from the prairie lands, going
toward a new world of college and other pursuits. The birth of
their first child had brought different direction to where they would be
walking. As this direction brought them to working toward a goal of her
husband seeking his education and she toward the care of their new baby
they were caught up in the placid pursuit of common orderly lives.
The money he used for schooling came from
the G.I. bill given in reward for service at the Korean war. Very little
money was left over. The rent, not buying new clothes, budgeted
grocery purchases, and careful managing gave them an opportunity to work
toward their goals.
The pleasant older home they rented was
almost an antique but it was clean. If they had to budget close for all
things it didn't matter. They were young, strong, with a new baby, and a
promise of working toward a better life. This pleasant morning the
young mother could see from the back of the long living room there was
someone stepping up onto the wide board porch off the front door. She
looked again and saw the mail delivery man drop their mail into its
place on the pole of one of the bannisters of the front porch. She
slowly siddled up to where he had left a small flat box.
"Well, it is a package from Mr. and
Mrs. Custer," she made a note of this as she was ripping the paper
away from the box. Upon opening the box she could easily see the box
held a lovely little baby quilt. It was all hand sewn in fabric
which, no doubt, had been washed to being of incredible softness.
Although the fabric was obviously well worn saved garments, the hand
work practiced by the elderly woman was a truly strong way to greet a
Years later after they were working in a
large city the news that Mrs. Custer had passed on came to them. They
were not able to go the distance to attend but it was explained the
funeral had been very well attended and it was noted it was because Mrs.
Custer probably had made baby quilts, either for those in attendance or
for their children, and in some cases, for the children's children, at
one time or another.