Dear Arlie – silver

I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘silver.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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As raindrops started pelting the glass, Arlie threw her hands to her cheeks and moaned. “Nooooo! It can’t rain.”

“Don’t think you have any say in the matter.” Millie was nothing if not matter of fact. “It’s gonna rain whether you want it to or not.”

“But it will be too muddy!” Arlie stomped her foot on the oak plank floor and crossed her arms across her chest in a pout. “And I want a picnic for my birthday.”

Alla shook her head slowly. “Oh…waaa…waaa…you get quite maudlin sometimes, Arlie. Do you think everything in life is going to go your way?”

A look of shock flashed across Arlie’s face. “Now that you mention it, dear…why…yes. I do believe that circumstances should favor my needs.”

“Your needs…and your whims…” Alla didn’t look very sympathetic.

“Oh poppycock. Needs. Whims. Wants. Whatever you want to call it. I do believe life should go according to my desires.” The firmness set in Arlie’s jaw compounded her intent.

Millie turned from where she stood watching the rain cascade down the bay window. “If you two would stop your snipping with each other and think logically about it, you’d realize that Arlie’s birthday isn’t for another week. It’s not likely that it’s going to rain for a solid week. It will be dry by picnic day.”

“You think. It’s rained for a week at a time before. Sometimes even two.” Arlie wrung her hands and began pacing the length of Millie’s bedroom.

“It has. But not during summer thundershower season. That usually happens in the spring.” Millie gracefully eased herself back down on her vanity seat. “Besides, as my Granny always says, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ And she should know, with all the years she has behind her.”

Alla nodded her head in agreement, but didn’t add to the conversation.

Arlie scoffed in protest. “What silver lining could there be with this rain?”

Millie took a deep breath and appeared to be searching for patience. “Why dear, you know how low the creek gets during the summer. Some years it’s barely running by now. This rain will refresh the springs and it should be a nice wading depth for us in a week.”

Arlie didn’t look convinced. But when she awoke the next morning to the brilliant rays cast through her bedroom window, she knew that her friends were most likely correct. And they were. The rest of the week passed with nary another drop and the day of her party promised to be dry…and hot.

Saturday morning she sprung out of bed, wide eyed and bushy tailed. She could hardly get her corset tightened fast enough to run downstairs and check on the picnic preparations. When she scurried into the kitchen, she saw that Cook already had everything under control. An opened picnic hamper sat on the table, with a checked tablecloth folded beside.

Cook stood in front of a sizzling pan, turning pieces of fried chicken in the spattering oil. “Go on, girl. Get yourself some breakfast. You’ll have to wait on yourself this morning if you want this food ready before your friends arrive.”

“I do believe I’ll just have a piece of toast this morning.”

“Toast?” Cook snorted. “That won’t give you sustenance until the midday meal. You’ll waste away before you get to the meadow.”

“Okay. Toast with a bit of apple butter…and maybe a piece of fruit. I’m too nervous to eat much.”

Cook tried to suppress a smile. It didn’t work. The grin showed from ear to ear. “It’s that George fellow, isn’t it? You’re all atwitter over him going on the grand adventure with you today.”

Arlie smiled back at the sassy woman that had been a feature in their kitchen since she was a sprite. “Maybe…”

“Twaint no maybe about it. I can see what happens every time he’s around. You light up like a Christmas candle on a Christmas tree. That you do.”

Arlie cut a slice of bread from yesterday’s fresh baked loaf and popped it in their new-fangled contraption. Before it popped up ready to go, Alla and Millie arrived with a Kodak camera dangling around each of their necks. The girls giggled together while Arlie ate her light meal. Cook placed the containers of food in the picnic hamper, with plates and utensils laid in on the side of the basket. As she closed the lid, a knock at the side door announced more guests.

Arlie threw open the door to see George, William, and another boy standing on the porch.

George spoke up first with a slight blush rising up as the three stepped inside the kitchen. “Morning, Miss Arlie. This is Eddie, Williams’s cousin. You don’t mind if he tags along with us today, do you?”

Arlie cast her eyes down and simpered. “Why, not at all. It’s my pleasure.” She turned to the new fellow and held out her hand. “Eddie, so glad you could join us today.”

Millie looked up, appearing excited to see a third male guest. With a quick glance she acknowledged Eddie and then turned and dismissed him.

Alla made her way across the room towards where William stood inside the door. She hesitated as she passed Millie and murmured. “Not your cup of tea?”

Millie whispered back. “Not hardly. Too young and fresh faced. But he’ll be good company for the day.”

Chattering a mile a minute, the six friends left for the meadow. They moved as a group, taking turns carrying the wicker hamper until they reached the railroad tracks where they broke into pairs to traverse the portion they needed to walk along to reach the path that led to the meadow.

Millie hung back behind the others, hoping to capture a few photographs without her friends knowledge.

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Dear Arlie – picture prompt

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I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, so the posts will be 300 words or less.

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Arlie shook her head vigorously, causing a lock to spring from her tidy bun and drape down the nape of her neck. “Not this year. After all, I’ll be turning twenty. I’m getting much too old for that now. Don’t you think?”

When Alla and Millie merely looked at her with questioning gazes, Arlie shrugged her shoulders and chattered on. “Besides…then I can’t invite the fellas to join us. A taffy pull would be fun. The boys would join us, loving anything with candy and sweets.”

Alla snickered. “And by boys you mean George. Right?”

A haughty rise in Arlie’s shoulders hinted at her inner agitation. “Naturally I mean George. Just as you’d enjoy pulling taffy with William.” She stuck her lower lip out in a pout. “But Mother nixed that idea. She said July heat is too ferocious to have molasses boiling all afternoon.”

“Arlie Lorraine Shinkle…” Millie spat the words out in frustration. “So what are you planning for your birthday party? Don’t keep us in suspense.”

“Well…I was…maybe…” Arlie hemmed and hawed.

“Spit it out,” Alla commanded in a rare show of authority.

“I was thinking a picnic in the meadow. I’ll ask Cook to fix us up a picnic basket with fried chicken and finger foods. We could go to that shady glen nestled at the bottom of the meadow. After lunch we could wade in the stream. Get our feet wet.”

“You just want to show off your trim ankles to the guys. You’re such an indecent lass sometimes.” Millie giggled at her impudent accusation. “You are inviting the fellows, aren’t you?”

As Arlie nodded in agreement, a distant rumble of thunder echoed across the skies and through the room. All three girls dashed to the bay window.  The wind whipped elm branches about and the sky darkened with the threat of an imminent thunderstorm.

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Three friends – circa 1911

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Dear Arlie – earth

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I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘earth.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Arlie straightened the stack of pamphlets in front of her, then leaned back and fidgeted with the cameo brooch pinned on her collar. “This isn’t as important as these flyers about our right to vote, but…are you two coming to my birthday party?”

Millie spun towards Arlie so fast she sent a flurry of the precious folded flyers tumbling across the dining room floor. She bent to retrieve them before her mother saw her and chided her for carelessness, and her friends came around the oak table to help. Millie glanced up, her hands still in motion gathering the mess. “When’s your party?”

“The party will be July first. It’s a Saturday. My birthday is on the third, but with all the festivities going on, Mother got the vapors just thinking about all she’d have to do in two days’ time.” Arlie sighed and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why she’s in such a state about it. It’s not like she actually does anything. Cook is making all the food for the picnic at the park. And I’m sure Cook will be in charge of my party preparations too.”

Alla spoke up in defense of the absent parent. “There’s a lot to get ready for a party. There’s all the cleaning too, getting the house ready for guests.”

“Cleaning?” Arlie giggled at the thought. “Mother doesn’t clean either. Cook does all the dusting, shining, polishing, and beating of the rugs. Mother stays busy crimping her corset tighter and polishing her pearls.”

Millie’s mother entered the room, her skirts swirling around her quick steps, sending a light breeze in the direction of the errant papers. “What on earth? Millie, darling, whatever are you three doing on the floor in the middle of this…this…jumble?”

“Now Mother, it was just a little fumble on my part. See, we’ve just about got it all picked up.”

Millie’s mother simply shook her head with a bemused smile on her face. “Sweet, sweet child. I do believe you got your clumsiness from your father. Speaking of which…” She turned and looked at the ornate walnut coo coo clock sitting on the fireplace mantle. “…he’s due home from the bank. And I, obviously, don’t have his supper even started yet. You three may want to make yourself scarce to avoid the upcoming fireworks. And it will be the dark, sputtering ones, not like the pretty flashy ones we’ll see on the Fourth.”

The girls laid the papers on the table and took off for Millie’s room where they could talk about the upcoming birthday activities. Alla and Arlie plopped themselves on the downy mattress, while Millie turned her vanity chair towards the bed and sat on it.

Alla almost wiggled with excitement. “Arlie, are you having a slumber party again this year?”

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Dear Flora – firecracker

I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘firecracker.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Dear Arlie

June 1911

“Alla, dear, hand me another stack, please.” Arlie Shinkle held a hand outstretched across the table and looked at her friend expectedly.

“Certainly.” Alla Richardson finished the crease she was making on the leaflet she was working on and laid it down in front of her. Taking half of the papers from the stack sitting beside her, she handed them over to Arlie. “After these, we’ll be finished.” She looked back down at the table and resumed her task in an aura of silence.

Arlie tipped her head towards the third girl sitting primly at the end of the table. “We made good time, getting these done. It would have gone faster if Pauline were here to help us.”

Millie nodded in agreement. “I wish Pauline hadn’t moved all the way to Los Angeles. I miss her being a part of our fun. Have you heard from her lately?”

“I got a postcard last month. It was a train going through the orange groves in Southern California. A wintertime picture – and not a spec of snow. I’m jealous. She said she’d gotten my letter. The one where I wrote and told her about Mrs. Kitch dying. Poor Florence. Losing her mother this young. And now she has to take care of her little sister, Ida Mae.” A look of sadness settled in around her briefly, then she shook it off and returned to the moment. “Millie, are these the last of the flyers? Did your mother have any more that she wanted folded?”

“No. This is the last of them. She’ll be excited that they’re ready to go. She and her suffragette friends will be passing them out at the parade on the Fourth.” Millie thrust her shoulders back and sat up ramrod straight. “She’ll be expecting me to help too.”

“But I thought we were all going to attend the parade together,” Arlie exclaimed. “It wouldn’t be the same watching the parade without you.”

“I know. I know. But Mother’s whole group is working with a vengeance now. Grace Trout has made such progress as president of the Equal Suffrage Association. And Mother was giddy with excitement when two women were elected to the school board in Springfield a few months ago. She’s confident that we’ll have the right to vote soon.”

Alla broke her silence and spoke up softly. “And your father…how’s he taking your mother’s crusade?”

Millie groaned in reply. “Not well. He alternates between a frowning, icy glare and bellowing like a mad bull. Especially the nights when he returns home from the bank and Mother’s been too busy to have dinner waiting for him like he prefers.”

“That must make for some awkward evenings.” Arlie leaned back in the carved wooden chair and tucked some loose curls back into her twisted bun. “When I get married, I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior from my husband. He’ll treat me kindly and with respect.”

“Ha! What husband? You keep up that kind of attitude and you’ll never get one.” Millie chucked and slapped at Arlie’s arm to show she was teasing. “You still have your eye on George?”

Arlie flushed a deep scarlet and hesitated before replying. “…maybe…He is going to propose one day. I just know it.”

“You sound awfully confident about it. I don’t know though…he and William have been hanging around without making any moves.”

“William’s mine!” The words burst out of Alla’s mouth. Her hand flew up to cover her lips and a wide eyed look of surprise stared back at her two friends.

A smirk peeked from Arlie’s face before she managed to hide it. “You can have William. I’m not interested in him. I want George. He’s the one I’m going to marry.”

“You think. I would have thought he’d make his intentions known by now.” Millie spoke firmly and forcefully. “He may not be the man for you if he’s not man enough to be bold.”

An arrogant tilt of Arlie’s chin paired up with a gleam in her eyes. “He’s man enough that he asked me if we were going to Christina Park on the Fourth. He wants to watch the fireworks with me.”

“Knowing him, he’s going to have a string of firecrackers in his pocket. Not an engagement ring.” Millie grinned as she gathered the piles of folded flyers together.

Alla sighed and a wistful look settled on her countenance. “I wish William would ask me. You’re a lucky girl. Your birthday on the third and fireworks with her fellow on the Fourth.” She turned towards Millie. “What about you? Who do you have your sights set on?”

“Me?” Millie laughed in response. “I doubt I’ll ever marry. Not if all men act like my father. I think being a strong, independent woman is more important. Until we have the right to vote, and are equal to men, then there’s too much work to be done. I’ll be marching in parades and passing out flyers and making phone calls and protesting with all my might. I won’t have time to be home cleaning a house, pressing and starching shirts and slaving over a stove so that my husband can be the big man boss of the household.”

Arlie and Allie looked at their friend in astonishment. Although they’d be helping Millie and her mother and the local suffragette group with their activities over the past year or two, they had no idea that their friend felt so intensely about the cause.

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Dear Arlie: Postcards to a Friend (1907 – 1913)

Dear Arlie_LKO coverTraces of a friendship over a hundred years ago remain in the postcards Pauline Washburn sent to her friend Arlie Shinkle. Enjoy the journey of their friendship through these postcards from 1907 to 1913.

The historic images on these 21 post cards, along with the words inscribed on the back, take us back to a different time and place. The first cards are sent from Pauline in Bloomington IL to Arlie in Ellsworth IL. Images showcase East Side Square in Bloomington IL, Main Building, Illinois State Normal University, Normal IL and others typical of popular early 1900’s postcard.

Postcards after 1910 were sent from Los Angeles CA, showcasing many historic features of southern California: the California Alligator Farm, a steam engine traveling through orange groves, bathing at Long Beach, the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, an assortment of New Year’s cards, and Pauline’s photograph postcard gracing the cover.

A bonus 1911 postcard from another friend, Millie, shows Sauble Inn in Ludington, Michigan, with a period motor car.

A brief history about early postcards follows the images. Information on Miller Park in Bloomington and Old Settler’s picnics in McLean County IL, both mentioned in the correspondence, are included as historical background to the two friends.

Come along and join us as we travel back in time, thanks to the traces of the past these women left us.

Dear Arlie is available now at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/531997

It will be available on Amazon.com after April 2nd.

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