Welcome to Shaker Corners
This is a fictional town, that I first visited in my writings years ago.
In this small town, we have a horse crazy girl, her best friend who is living in a family suffering with an alcoholic parent, a single Finnish/Mississippian woman working to maintain her independence, and other peopled with problems that should swamp them but they react with good humor and grit. They all remember “WHO they are as well as WHOSE they are,” to steal from one of my rector’s sermons.
Here’s a small excerpt, about a young boy who has forgotten his Valentine’s Cards for the first grade swap. It lets us all know that EVERYONE has problems, that are seemingly unsolvable at the time but it does all work out in the end.
He and Sarah had a romantic evening planned at the new restaurant in the Terminal Tower followed by a visit to the Cleveland Symphony. He was really looking forward to a night on the town. He just had to get through the day with no problems at the school.
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Joe felt in his book bag for his Valentines. They weren’t there. What was he going to do? Teacher was telling everyone to deliver their Valentines.
Joe tried to make his work last as long as possible, but soon, Mrs. Williams came by.
“Joe?” Mrs. Williams said. “Joe, I can see that you’re finished with your work. Don’t you want to pass out your Valentines?”
Joe continued looking at his paper. Although he was only in first grade, he’d learned quickly that honesty wasn’t always the best policy. He honestly didn’t want to pass out any Valentines. Ever. But he didn’t want to get in trouble. Maybe they flunked kids who didn’t have their Valentines. Then again, if he flunked first grade, maybe he wouldn’t have to see dumb ol’ Janey Greeson again. Ever. But then his mother would be mad and probably cry and Mary would hit him and call him stupid and dummy and idiot because he flunked first grade.
“Joe?” Mrs. Williams asked. “Do you have any Valentines to give to your friends?” She had knelt down by his desk and was looking directly into his face.
His chin started trembling. “I forgot them at home. I thought I had them, but I forgot them at home.” He wasn’t crying but he was very close.
“Oh Joe,” Mrs. Williams said. “That’s all right, your mother is coming for the party. I’m sure she’ll bring you your cards. I’ll go call her during lunch time and she’ll bring them then.”
“Can I still pass first grade?”
“Of course,” his teacher replied.
Joe felt better. At least until Jane Greeson sashayed up to his desk and with a big smug grin dropped a huge card into his envelope made of pink and red construction paper. He hadn’t had much choice of colors, but he had a choice of decorations. No sissy hearts for him. He made pink and red dinosaurs to glue on to it. He had a pink Tyrannosaurus rex eating a small red velociraptor.
As Janey dropped her Valentine into Joe’s envelope, she whispered, “I bought you a special card, Joe, with a special treat inside.”
Joe stuck his tongue out at her.
“Janey,” called Mrs. Williams, “Get back in your seat now.”
Sometimes teachers weren’t so bad after all.