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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Zona’s a Fine Seamstress


“Son! I saw what you did. I’m shore enough  proud of you. Not only did you save your wife but a prize team of oxen, as well.”  It was easy to see where John had learned his riding skills. His Dad, Wily, had ridden back to where his new daughter-in- law and son were resting on the sandbar bank beside the creek. They were soaked through and through. Their wet hair, clothing, and shoes made them at risk. A dip in the stream would have been all right in summer but  now freezing  temperatures made this dangerous.

     “Zona, I can’t find enough words to tell you how well you handled what could have been a death trap.  If you had not controlled yourself all would have been lost. You were as capable as any of my sons, and  a whole lot purtier!”  Wily and John both laughed heartily.

    “I best get a fire started or I’m guwin’ to freeze plumb to death.”

He slipped back into a vernacular of another time and place as they sometimes did by using the  word guwin’ instead of going. John was shivering so hard his teeth were chattering.

    ‘Hogshooter Creek in Bartlesville, Oklahoma was, indeed, where John was baptized into his marriage. Wily was now secure in their log cabin along that tributary with his wife, Mary,  while he told her about the incident. The same cook stove where she had prepared their meal heated the space and made a cozy, warm room.  Wily was happy to be home and Arkansas had given him a profit from the cattle-drive, as well. He felt life was good to him.’

    ‘His wife, Mary,  pulled her dark hair back into a severe style and somewhere in her genes there  must have been a tie to an Italian ancestor. Those of the Guarneri families of Italy associated with The Stradivarius have a striking resemblance to Mary. Her sons were named Seberno, Cicero, Alonzo, and Joseph, DeWitt and that left a question regarding  their origin. Their musical ability gave them a unity in culture and may be one of the reasons for Zona’s being able to marry into the family. Joseph, their son, also played the violin, when he was young.  Red -Wing was his favorite  tune. The words were never sung, though,  which is understandable.  They are quite seamy in a cowboy kind of way. The tune is catchy.’

    “Oh the moon shines so bright on pretty Red-Wing. The birds are crying, the wind is sighing while Red Wing waits on her brave so true.”

‘And these were the only words fit for singing where there were childrenin the room.’     

    Wily was pleased to see his plans work out. “I believe John has found him a fine wife. She took to driving that wagon without one peep of complaint. You would have thought she had been driving one for all her life.”  The ending of the successful trip was his. Wily’s cattle sales coupled with a new bride for his son made up for the misery of the rough  roads and rutted  trails they followed from Harrison, Arkansas in freezing weather, at that.

    “I hope you are right. If she is content here in Bartlesville it will be the best thing to happen to John. He needs a wife. I’m just afraid she will miss her folks over there out of Boone County. We shore don’t have no fancy dresses and fine clothes here at Jake Bartles store. Not even if you got as many cattle, hogs and horses as you have, Wiley. You would have to go all the way to Kansas City to find clothes as fancy as she brought back in that trunk of hers.”  Mary wasn’t as sure about things as her husband was.

    “She comes from a family that is skilled in weavin’ and growing their own cotton and wool. Sewin’ comes as easy to her as ranchin’ does to us. Zona’s a fine seamstress.”  Wily spoke well of his new daughter-in-law.  He had no idea that same craft would be a tool to bring her and that family great wealth before she died.         

    “I pray you know of what you speak.”  Mary was more cautious.

    “Wiley wasn’t worried about the match. His Dad was a blacksmith in Harrison, Arkansas. It was a small town and their families all were acquainted with each other. Zona’s folks moved in from Bolivar, Missouri to the little Arkansas community. Before that,  the family migrated  to Missouri after living in Kentucky.  The Joneses came from Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. The south and that culture were strong with both families and John's Dad felt this would be something to give them unity in their marriage.


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