Girtha Rising: A Ride on SE 82nd St

Chapter TWO

Girtha loved to go riding around Portland with Edgar and the girls.  The city had grown up around them.  Dirt roads and byways were now numbered paved highways, streets and avenues.  82nd Avenue took them all the way to the Columbia River.  It amazed her how quickly things had changed. Girtha loved living in the city and treasured the shops and tidy neighborhoods. The trolley line came all the way out now.  She could ride downtown with the girls to go window shopping.  Girtha studied the fashions and looked for patterns to keep the girls stylish. 

“Your hand knows the difference between a dotted swiss and the printed cotton. It’s all in the feel and drape of the cloth.”

They went to a fabric store on 82nd Avenue. Edgar smiled with his hands in his pockets, taking pleasure in the enjoyment of his girls examining the style pattern books and looking for fabric to stitch into new clothes.  Edgar was proud of his beautiful daughters and commented on the accessory details they fussed over.  They valued and sought his approval of their outfits.

The family pull into the service station to fill up the Packard with gasoline before setting out down 82nd Avenue. Edgar joked around with the attendant, Andy, who goes to school with Frankie. Andy admires the car, is respectful of Mr. Blanchard the local policeman and flirts with Frankie, who he thinks is peachy keen.  Marcie teases her “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Frankie with a baby carriage!”

There were shops and cute little places to pick up a bite to eat.  

The fruit stand always had the freshest and earliest, peaches, pears and plums.  Edgar knew how much Girtha loved to make jams and jellies and the joy she had watching her family enjoy canned fruit in the cold winter months from her work.  He picks up a bushel of ripe plums for her on the outing and puts it in the trunk.

Edgar pulled the Packard alongside the curb, shifted into neutral and pulled the brake to keep the beast at a slow purr idle.  “No girls allowed in here! Keep sitting pretty and don’t let a little bird get your nose by peeking out the window.” He tweeked Marcie’s nose.

“Daddy, will you ever grow up!” she called out as he shut the car door. 

“Mama, why can’t we go in the store with daddy?  Other girls go in.  Why do we have to always wait in the car.”

“No decent woman goes into the smoke shop dear.  Your daddy has some habits he picked up at the logging camp that I prefer not to discuss.”

“Oh mama you are so old fashioned. Good girls smoke cigarettes too, you know.  It helps keep a slim figure.”

“Frankie!” 

Edgar stepped out of the smoke shop with a Portland Journal tucked under his arm, a white bag with two chocolate candies and two new cigars peeking out of his coat pocket. 

“Sweets to the sweets waiting patiently and guarding the car. No gangsters while I was gone?”

“Oh Edgar, you spoil those girls, you really do. We can get treats at a nicer place. And you know I prefer that you keep that nasty cigar smoke out of the house and away from the girls.”

He leans over and kisses her on the forehead and pulls out a tin of lemon drops for Girtha.

She smiles, pops one in her mouth, “You spoil me too, Edgar! 

Frankie spies a smartly dressed woman walking a Pomeranian dog. The woman stops to pick up her puppy and gives it a scratch behind the ears. “Oooh look, look at the cute little doggie!  I want a snuggles dog too, daddy!”

A Grand Opening banner wafting in the afternoon breeze caught Girtha’s eye. Cars were parked willy nilly into every possible nook and cranny. Edgar was grinning and nodding his head, knowing how much he had pleased them. 

“Well girls, what you think now!  Who wants to check out the brand spanking new Fred Meyers store with me?”

He opened the car door for Girtha, held out his hand, and helped her out to the sidewalk. She took his arm and squeezed it in anticipation of exploring the new store with him.

“Wait til you see it girls! Everything is here, things you never thought you would ever need. The cutest frocks, the latest fashions, the best prices. Sky’s the limit! Here’s a dollar for each of my fair princesses.”

Frankie and Marci skipped off together, eager to examine the new store.

Girtha examined the inventive kitchen gadgets . Edgar enjoyed being with his girls and buying them all expensive treats.

Twilight settled softly over the city. The family rode in comfortable silence listening to the Packard hum back down 82nd Ave. Edgar breathed in the joy of the day and crooned softly

“Sing your way home at the close of the day.

And they did. They sang together in the humming key of the Packard engine.

“Sing your way home drive the shadows away

Smile every mile for wherever you roam

It will lighten your load, it will brighten your road

If you sing your way home.”

Frankie waved at Andy when they passed by the service station on the way back home. Girtha looked closely at the boy her youngest daughter was smitten with and remarked,

“Well there’s no accounting for taste. Said the old lady who kissed the cow.”

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