by Elaine Mead Currier Keniston
-snow and Mr. Evans-
One winter evening after dark we were making our way home in another snowstorm. We had turned off the Bowman Road; the tire chains made their metallic slapping sounds bringing us up the slippery incline on the corner so that the yellow halo of the kitchen light in our house came into view and cast a welcoming glow through the falling snow. Daddy was driving and we girls were in the back seat as usual. Being short, we couldn’t see beyond the high front seat and we couldn’t hear much for the roar of the snow tires and chains. This always seemed to serve as a convenience to our parents who could discuss things which children shouldn’t hear, and an annoying obstacle to our young, inquisitive minds. We faintly heard Mother and Daddy commenting on something in the road. We strained to see. Daddy slowed the car, stopped, put the car in neutral, and pulled on the emergency brake. We stood up and Mother said, “You girls sit down and stay put!”; but we had caught a glimpse.
There in the middle of the snow-covered road was a big lump. It didn’t appear to be an animal. A rush of cold air entered as both parents got out, their respective doors thudding shut behind them. We stood up and stared, peering past the windshield wipers as they moved back and forth and the headlights that hit the falling snow making it look like a curtain. Beyond that we could just discern our parents who walked up to the lump, bent over it, and began to shake it. It began to move a little. Then they helped it get up. Under a sodden and oddly-wrinkled cap, we could see Charlie Evans, the old man who lived on top of the hill! He couldn’t stand up very well and almost fell down. My parents each took him by the arm and walked slowly back to the car. We girls dutifully sat down, pretending that we had remained there all along and had no idea what the commotion was all about. We felt a sense of embarassment and alarm seeing him like this; our Father had given him a job, lent him tools and Mother had taken food up when Charlie’s family had only potatoes to eat. It was the kind of situation when you looked into something, didn’t like what you found out and then wished you could forget it…but you couldn’t. Still, our curiosity remained intact. After Mr. Evans had been repositioned in the front between our parents, Mother announced: “Charlie is drunk and could have frozen to death. Your father will take him home and see that he’s ok.” The car heater sent waves of a strong odor, something like anti-freeze, to us in the back. It was very different from the fresh smell of winter air and it was not there before they loaded Charlie in so I figured it had to be him.
We asked if we could go up with Daddy, too, being very inquisitive about how he would thaw out and what he would look like as the thawing process took place. Mother’s retort was sharp and unequivocal: “You girls have no business going up there! Besides, it is well past your bedtime already!”
We looked at each other, disappointed. It seemed that we never got a chance to be in on the really exciting and important activities like this one. Instead we had to keep our place and hear about everything secondhand.
Coming soon – Part 3: Family Vacations