Ah! Busking! Miryam’s story of a first friend’s love, and how it came back her in a most unexpected way. Pure Americana, here!
Like surprises? I do. No fair scrolling to the bottom! Here is a sweet story from one our sweetest authors and friends. We missed you!
What’s YOUR story? Still time to enter: https://awordwithyoupress.com/2016/03/03/the-sands-of-time-are-falling-12-days-left-to-enter-our-contest-lost-love/
Busking at the Grand
by M. L. Meier
The wheels of Miss Sade’s buggy squeaked like a worn out screen door, not to mention the rattling of a dozen or so dangling items that bounced in rhythmic chaos.
I was playing hooky from school again and dozing under a big chestnut tree when I heard her coming down the dirt road. As I sat up, our eyes met, as if she had already spotted me and had some mischievous caper on her mind. Her sideways toothless smile and wink confirmed this notion.
“Harlan, come here,” she bellowed, “I need a word with you.”
It was the Depression of 1930. I was ten and had been taken in by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCross, Wisconsin a few years prior. My momma died of tuberculosis when I was two, and my pa drowned eight years later on the Mississippi when his fishing boat capsized. Most days, I escaped the walls of Saint Michael’s Home for Boys and peddled the streets for spare change (which there was little of). Despite the fact that I didn’t have an especially good voice, I mimicked radio songs. I met Miss Sade in front of the Grand Hotel one rainy afternoon when I was sing’n “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.” Suddenly I heard a squeezebox joining in melody, and there she stood. She flashed her smile and winked, and we proceeded to draw a crowd that day, providing lunch money for a week!
We became friends. Immediately. Perhaps a strange match, me a red-haired, mouthy orphan and she, a white-haired old woman that wore flowers in her hair, but nothing in my life had ever made good sense.
Miss Sade was a peculiar character, primarily raised by the local Winnebago Indians, and quite fond of her many gypsy friends. She loved to play her squeezebox while dancing a jig, and could hunt and fish better than most. She raised bees and made medicine from wild herbs. We were kindred spirits; orphans reunited as true family.
She lived in the nearby woods, concealed within a small cabin hidden by overgrowth, and it was only after some time that she invited me to her secret sanctuary.
A few years passed and I somehow managed to get my high school diploma, as Miss Sade would have been gravely disappointed if I had failed. When the war broke out in ’39, I signed up. With tears, Miss Sade saw me off at the bus station and made me promise to send her letters every week.
My friend is long gone now, laid to rest in her beloved forest. When I returned home, the gypsies found me sitting in Miss Sade’s cabin and handed me a satchel. Inside was a squeezebox and a letter with my name on it.
I am sure you have become a wonderful man, and I am very proud. You will find a special gift within the squeezebox. Spend it wisely.
Your friend, Miss Sade.