Look to the Stars
by Alice Isom Gubler Stratton

Chapter 35
We Can't Eat Flowers

207207 In the spring, Winferd hooked the truck onto the sagging wire fence across the top of the lot and yanked it out, along with the blackberry bramble. He built a rail fence in its place, and hauled in sand for lawns and flowers.

"I'll leave the fence for you to paint," he said, "and since we can't eat flowers, I'll leave them for you to grow, too."

Our new lawn came up thick, but as the days turned hot, keeping the young grass watered was a problem. Terry was walking by now, and he and Gordon were like a pair of ducks, going everywhere side by side. I had to guard the spray nozzle or they would dig holes in the lawn with it. Like a kangaroo, I constantly leaped up and down the steps to my housework, then back to the lawn sprinkler. If I found it gullying out the lawn, I scolded. Gordon and Terry learned to disappear when I came in sight. Once, when I heard Gordon say, "See Terry, I'm spraying the walk," I charged out the back door and around the house to surprise him. when he saw me coming, he was too startled to put the hose down, but froze, with the spray 208208 nozzle turned full upon me. I gasped and spluttered, charging into the cold, stinging spray. Bewildered, Gordon began to whimper, still aiming the nozzle at me. When I saw the look in his eyes, and heard the unhappy whimper, I cooled off, (to put it mildly), replaced the hose, and took the three of us inside for dry clothes.

One afternoon, I drove to Ruby Webb's house to ask her to give a lesson in MIA on "Safety in the home and on the farm." Gordon rode in the back seat.

"You stay in the car," I said. "I'll only be a minute."

I parked with the gears in reverse, because of the slope. As I entered Ruby's house, she said, "Your car is going." I ran, but the car was gaining speed. It crossed the intersection, bouncing through an abandoned ditch, mowed down a couple of Powell Stratton's fence posts, and came to rest in his pomegranate bushes. Gordon was pitched over the back of the front seat, where he limply hung, wide eyed and white. Ruth Stratton ran from her house, and was there ahead of me.

As I opened the car door, Gordon said in a quivering voice, "I didn't drive it. The car runned away."

I was too shaken to back the vehicle out of its predicament, so Ruth did it for me. I almost didn't have the nerve to tell Ruby why I came.

My mother used to say we should start getting ready for Sunday on Monday. I knew she was right, but it never worked out that way for me. Come Saturday, I usually had a week's work to be done before night. The particular Saturday I speak of was typical. I had cooked, mended, and scrubbed, both house and kids, until I got my usual Saturday sag. Finally, the last child was tucked in, and I collapsed into a chair with a sigh. Oh, for one blissful moment of relaxation! Then, from the basement, the nightly ritual began.

"Motherrrrr, I need a drink."

"Mother, I need to go to the bathroom."

"Make Norman stop hitting me."

"DeMar is pulling my hair."

Like a martyr I arose, responding to each cry.

I felt abused. Then annoyed. Then aggravated. Then exasperated. THEN DOWNRIGHT FURIOUS! I HAD HAD IT! As sounds of unnecessary vitality vibrated from the rooms below, I stormed to the head of the stairs.

"ONE MORE SOUND OUT OF YOU KIDS, AND I'LL COME DOWN THERE AND PITCH ALL OF YOU OUT." (That's not all I said, but that's all I'll admit to.)

Then I turned. Standing in the hall, grinning at me, was Emerald Stout. Behind him was Wilford Leaney and Lafe Hall, the Stake High Priest Presidency. Winferd was their secretary, and they had come to our house for a meeting. The men had let themselves in, because Winferd was momentarily out, and I was yelling too loud to hear their knock. Emerald and Wilford were amused, but as Winferd walked in, Lafe gave him a sad, sympathetic look. The tone of my voice, and my shouted words echoed back in 209209 in my ears, and I stood appalled, hearing myself as others heard me. My face burned.

The Fruit Grower's Association imported a bus load of help from Mexico, when the crops were ready to harvest. Winferd's pears were never more beautiful. He had pruned, sprayed and thinned, and the crop was bounteous. Still, at the packing shed, his pears were culled back, and culled back, because of bruises. Once, he walked into the orchard, instead of driving. That's when he discovered his trouble. His men were in the tree tops, whacking the fruit down with sticks, and filling the baskets from the ground. These men were from Mexico City, and knew nothing about farming. The Association had a bunch of unhappy farmers that year.

In September I was released as WMIA President, and sustained as Stake Special Interest leader.

An example of a vintage Hull Art pottery vase

An example of an art deco Hull Art Mardi Gra vase, of 1940s vintage, perhaps similar to what Alice describes.

Winferd and I were usually involved in setting up the LaVerkin Ward Fruit display at the Hurricane Peach Days each summer. Often, we captured the blue ribbon. This year I also entered my flowers. My garden had been a mass of bloom all summer long, and at the Fair, I took first place. With my prize money, I bought a set of three Hull Art vases, fluted and tinted from a clear pink at the top, fading gradually, like evening clouds, to sky blue at the base. These were absolute luxuries. Normally, we never bought anything but necessities. Then when Winferd went to Salina after a load of coal, he brought me a necklace. That was an absolute luxury, too.

"I saw the necklace in the window of Christensen's store," he said. "The sun was shining on it. I stood glued to the window, fascinated with its jets of colors, and I said to myself, 'Alice has got to have that necklace.'"

It wasn't my birthday, or Christmas, or anything like that. That necklace was a total, thrilling surprise. I had two other necklaces. One was a string of blue glass beads that Winferd had given me on our second date, and the other was of braided seed pearls that he gave me on our first Christmas. That was the year I bought him the white buckskin gloves with the beaded gauntlets. The Indian woman who had made them brought them in to the store to sell, when I was helping with the Christmas rush.