Hard Candy Christmas

How in the ^%$#*!! did I get into her blog?

I’m William Woolsey. Silky Sue, owner of the Salt Lick Saloon came to me with a proposition, I tried to be civil. I told her there were other men in town who’d be her freighter.

But she didn’t want miners and roustabouts whose only skill was busting rock. She wanted someone who’d carried goods across the Oregon trail without beating everything to sawdust. So I hitched two teams, and Cousin Rard and I crossed a river and a mountain to fetch what would be the valley’s most precious cargo.

We arrived early and camped for a day before the wagon from the La Grande Depot rolled in and transferred a solid-built crate.  In the other wagon we loaded up a cookstove left sitting at the base of Smith Mountain.

There was great commotion when we halted the wagons back in Two Pan. It took two stout

The Salt Lick Saloon Gets a Little Ivory

men to pry the sides off the crate.  Inside was a Sterling Company piano. It had come around the Horn and it was the only instrument besides a harmonica in the valley. Someone tried to plunk the keys, and the Professor cold-cocked him, yelling the stops had to be removed from the strings.

Miss Sue told me to go around to the back to get my payment.  Now, I’m a solid married man and was a mite worried, but she met me at the rear door with a tiny pouch of gold dust. Then she asked if I’d load a slat-sided box in the oven and deliver it to Violet Spinrad.

Maybe she did it because Bricker Spinrad completed his evolution from no-account miner to worthless drunk in her saloon. Maybe it was because when the Professor tossed him through the doors, Bricker lay in the street until sober enough to wander back inside instead of going home.

Violet's Stove is Home for Christmas

I’ve never seen a woman hug a stove, but Violet Spinrad practically lay on the thing while Cousin Rard and I lugged it into the cabin. When I told her it was from Silky Sue, she got quiet. Her face changed into something cold. I thought she was going to tell me to take it back.  But the kids, crowding around, found the slatted box full of sugar, salt, honey, and small sacks of hard candy. Six of ’em. One for each child.  There was also a sewing needle pinned to a swath of velvet. I’d added a hind beef leg when I passed my homestead, but Violet wouldn’t accept such charity from neighbors if she knew, so I let her think it was from Silky Sue.

She wiped her eyes with her apron, looked at the kids, straightened her back and told me, “Bricker’s been doing work for the saloon. He must’ve taken his wages in drygoods.” We stared at each other daring the other to step over her story. The kids began rustling kindling and pots.  As I drove my wagon away, I heard truth break her voice in a “Thank you.”

I took the long way back through Two Pan.  Light streamed from the saloon. Decent folks stood, listening  on the street, a respectable distance from the doors.  Peaceful notes drifted into the night.  “All is calm. All is bright.”

There would be Christmas in Two Pan.

A big Thanks to the fine women of the Stevens-Crawford House at the End of the Oregon Trail for sharing their Historical Home.

And while this isn’t from the 1890s. Let the Woman who’s seen her share of change help you through a  Hard Candy Christmas. Check out the HAIR. (Starts quiet)

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Hope, Lights, Pioneer Friday in Two Pan and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Hard Candy Christmas

  1. I was here before, but neglected to leave a message saying how much I love this story.

    (Also wanna say that I love the perfect names you come up with for these characters!)


  2. Pingback: New Year’s at the Sporting Club | Before Morning Breaks

  3. Elisabeth Miles says:

    Hah! I know that stove well. (I was curator at the S-D House for nearly 2 years.) Great post.


  4. Arindam says:

    This one is a beautiful story.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!
    May this new season will bring lot more happiness, joy & peace in your life. 🙂


  5. jakesprinter says:

    Great Entry Barb i love your work..
    Happy Christmas to you and your family too 🙂


  6. souldipper says:

    Barb, I cannot believe all the costumes you find to dress up for all the characters in your stories. I think you are a thespian from the core of your historical heart.

    I loved this story. I’m awed by your capture of the intricate and gentle nuances of the folk who came so incredibly cautiously before us. The silent, face-saving, good for all kinda folk.

    Merry Christmas…see ya in 2012!


  7. Loved it. So glad that the cook stove came to where it belongs. With the fixings for a really good Christmas too. And like Spectra, I love Dolly’s face. A lived in, happy face.


  8. curm says:

    Awesome story! Condense it into a haiku and put it on my blog I’m hosting. everyone invited.


  9. Spectra says:

    The story is a wonderful lead in to the video; I’d never heard this song before. The photos in the beginning of just Dollys’ face, show how really beautiful she is. I think all of the big boob shots and body profiles take away from what is sculpturally perfect in her face. She’s such an icon.

    Glad Mrs. Bricker finally got her stove! Phew! And just in time to bake a Christmas Goose? Or vulture?


  10. moma escriva says:

    I always new Silky Sue would be the silent santa in Two Pan.


  11. Alice Lynn says:

    A visit to Two Pan is just what I needed this morning! Thank you for the humor and the sentiment woven into this Christmas story.


  12. Margie says:

    I love these stories! In our neck of the woods, we are only a couple of generations away from the people who arrived here in wagons, and later by train. It was a tough life, and you do a good job of making it real!


  13. I love this story and the song resonates this year and this Christmas.


  14. Roxie Matthews says:

    Ah, the hooker with the heart of gold. Bless ol’ Silky Sue!


  15. A beautiful story, Barb. It makes a lovely Christmas gift. Thanks. And, Merry Christmas.


  16. JSD says:

    What a wonderful story…thanks for sharing it with us. Merry Christmas!


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