Monday, March 12, 2012
Camden Corners Chronicle
Thanksgiving Day was a joyful time for all the residents of Camden Corners. Families enjoyed each others company while preparing and feasting on their turkey dinners with all the trimmings.
Cody Hill was taking advantage of his time off from the university and spending every moment possible with April Hawthorne. Cody had been blessed the day Professor Tanner became his benefactor and rescued him from the mountain life. The Professor could see Cody was an intelligent young lad and was able to catch up to the other students in record time. The other children laughed at his hillbilly ways but Cody quickly fit in and because of his winning personality became one of the more popular students in his class. Cody met April Hawthorne shortly after his arrival in Camden Corners and they had been sweethearts ever since. April would be following Cody to the University the following September to study nursing.
Cody never forgot his beginnings or the hardships he and his extended family endured in the mountains. He would forever be grateful to the Professor for rescuing him from that life. He thought about taking some food to the mountains but he knew it wouldn't be practical or welcomed. April suggested that they would be able to find needy families closer to home. She knew the town of Brenton had been hit with several hail storms over the summer. She had heard that those folks had their crops almost totally wiped out.
“Cody, Brenton is only about an hour away. Maybe we could arrange a group of our friends to help them out. It wouldn't take too long to get there if we left in the morning and we would all be home in time to celebrate with our own families.”
Cody thought that was a wonderful idea. In the next couple of days the twosome gathered their friends together to make a plan. The parents were so proud of their children for thinking of others and all contributed to the meals. The day before Thanksgiving was a busy time in Camden Corners. All the ovens were roasting turkeys, potatoes, corn and squash and baking an extra pie or two. Thanksgiving morning all the children, young and old were wrapping and boxing Thanksgiving dinners and placing them in buckboards and carriages.
The senior citizens who weren't preparing their own feasts that day were invited to join the group and proudly rode along with the young people. Anna and Lou Rossi had never celebrated the American Thanksgiving before and were enjoying being with their grandchildren on the trip to Brenton. Sheriff Mendenhall had alerted the sheriff of Brenton that Thanksgiving would be coming to town. The townspeople were filled with anticipation as the many carriages and buckboards rolled in bringing everything from soup to nuts. There wasn't an empty plate in Brenton that Thanksgiving Day and there wasn't an empty heart in all of Camden Corners.
Josie Blackburn, whose morning sickness had disappeared by late November, was able to enjoy her own Thanksgiving dinner that day. Although she and her sister didn't have any children going to Brenton, she thought it was a wonderful idea. That evening, Josie sat down and wrote an article about the generosity of the Camden Corners young people and about Cody and April who had the idea in the first place. She mailed it to the Greensboro News. She hadn't expected it would be on the front page of the paper but when she received her copy a few days later, she was aggravated to see only a very small portion of her article was squeezed between an ad for tooth powder and an announcement of a lost dog being returned to it's owner.
“Reggie, Camden Corners needs it's own newspaper”
“I think you are right my dear and if anyone can pull that off it's you.”
“Emma Crowley worked for the newspaper when she lived in Greensboro. I'm going to talk to her about it this morning.”
After breakfast she walked to Looking Back Antique Shop to see Emma.
“Josie, I think that is a wonderful idea. I did work for the paper but I only secured ads. Mr. Wilson didn't believe a woman was capable of anything more important than that. As a matter of fact I purchased an old printing press a year or so ago. I have been meaning to ask Randy Burke to take a look at it. Randy works often with Jonas on restoration and he does have a knack for fixing anything mechanical. Let's go take a look.”
The women walked to the storage building just behind the shop. The building was filled with treasures found at flea markets and auctions. Because everything was so well organized, Emma was able to walk right to the printing press. It was much larger than Josie anticipated.
“I'm not sure where I would find room to put it.” she said. “I didn't think about space and I will be operating on a shoestring. It did seem like a good idea but maybe I'd better rethink my plan.”
“Don't give up, I'm sure we can figure out something. You are right, Camden Corners needs a newspaper. Randy will be here this morning, I'm going to have him look at the press and we will go from there.
Word spread fast that Josie was thinking of starting a newspaper. The Hightower twins had not had any offers to buy their quilt shop and insisted Josie use it for the paper. The apartment upstairs would work out perfectly for the newspaper office with the printer on the main floor. Randy worked on the press and it was rolling again or would be when the first copy of the Camden Corners Chronicle was being printed.
Reggie had one of his more talented workman carve a sign to go above the door. Camden Corners Chronicle, Josephine Blackburn, Editor. Several of the local businesses bought advertising space. Josie had written several articles about local activities and friendly news about the residents. She wrote her first editorial reminding the citizens of Camden Corners to be careful about disposing of their cigar butts near where children are playing.
“I'll be a little more political as time goes on” she said to Reggie. “I don't want to offend anyone on the first day the paper goes out.”
Randy Burke was excited about print setting. After repairing the machine, he rode to the Greensboro News office to learn all he could about printing. It was a complicated process but he was shown the basics and was able to set up the Chronicle's printer.
Josie was busy working in the office when she heard Randy walking up the stairs. He was talking with a gentleman and stopped at Josie's door.
Josie asked the man to come in. He introduced himself as Percy VanBuren.
“I would like to see a sample of your newspaper as I plan to advertise continuously.”
Josie didn't feel comfortable about this man. He had a dishonest face and Josie could usually tell when someone was lying. Her instincts told her Mr. Percy VanBuren was not to be trusted.
“I'm sorry Mr. Van Buren, our publication is not ready for distribution. If you would like to leave your advertisement with me I will be happy to include it in our next edition.”
“Madam, I will not place an advertisement in an unknown product. You must have a sample of the paper.”
“Mr. VanBuren, as I told you, our newspaper is not ready for distribution. I will gladly mail you a copy when it is.”
Mr. VanBuren left her office without leaving his advertisement.
“I wonder what he was up to?” Josie said to Randy. “That man gave me the willies.”
“I know what you mean said Randy. I tried to tell him to wait downstairs until I announced him but he kept following me until we were at your door. I'm sorry Josie, I'll be more insistent next time.”
“That's fine Randy, it's not your job to police the area. Hopefully, we won't see him again.”
“The Chronicle has been put to bed.” Josie said to Reggie as he walked through the door of their home. “I have been waiting to say that for days.” she laughed
“I'm really proud of you Josie, you make up your mind to do something and you do it. Seems it was only a short while ago that you were unhappy about the Greensboro News editing your article and now you are running a newspaper.”
“It will be distributed first thing in the morning. Billy and Butch Duesenberry will pick up the papers in front of the shop at 4:30 am. The Vicar said he didn't mind getting them up so early and Kate hasn't been sleeping very soundly with the baby kicking her during the night. I can't wait to start feeling our baby move”
Reggie gently patted her tummy. He couldn't wait either. He knew he had to be the luckiest man on earth being married to Josie and expecting their child. He shuddered when he thought of how at one time he had his heart set on marrying Elena Malone.
At 4:28 the following morning Billy and Butch stood in front of the old quilt shop. They each picked up a stack of papers. It was very dark and they couldn't see the print but knew they could see what it looked like when they took their family's copy home after they finished their rounds.
The boys arrived home 46 minutes later. Butch handed Will the paper as they sat down to eat the breakfast Kate had waiting for them.
Will donned his spectacles and let out a yelp. The boys stopped eating and Kate rushed to his side. The headline read. Looking Back Antiques selling cheap reproductions. The story went on to say that Emma Patterson and Lily Kramer were swindling people out of their hard earned money. Furniture repaired by Jonas Fulbright was falling apart due to shoddy workmanship. The article warned the unsuspecting public to stay away from the second rate shop. The byline read Josie Blackburn, Concerned Citizen and Editor.
At the Crowley house, Emma excitedly picked up the paper. Her chin dropped as she looked at the headline. Just then Lily knocked on the door. Emma opened it, they looked at each other and said in unison
Harvey had been a thorn in Emma's side for as long as she could remember. She worked for him at his newspaper in Greensboro until her grandfather died. Harvey took advantage of Amos Patterson and his deteriorating mental state. He forced Emma to give up the General Store Amos had built with his own hands, and when he learned Emma and Lily were making a success of their antique business he tried to swindle them out of that too. Harvey went too far and lost his businesses except for the Greensboro News. He knew someday he would be able to get his revenge on those two and that day had come. He hired Mr. Percy VanBuren to impersonate a prospective advertiser in the Camden Corners paper. While Percy was at the newspaper office he swiped a copy of the paper. It didn't take Percy and Harvey long to copy the paper with the new headline on the front page.
Arthur Preston had worked at Greensboro News for years. He'd tolerated Harvey Wilson and his questionable ways because he loved the newspaper business and he loved Greensboro. This latest dirty trick of Harvey's was the last straw though. He would have to make it right for his old friends Emma and Lily. Arthur gathered the original copies of the Chronicle from the trash barrel where Percy had dumped them and drove to Camden Corners prepared to redistribute them himself.
The townspeople were appalled that such things were said about the antique shop and it's owners. They knew Josie Blackburn had nothing to do with it and anyone who knew Emma and the troubles she had with Harvey Wilson in the past were convinced that mean, vindictive man was behind it.
Arthur told Richard and Robert Crowley that he would be more than willing to testify against his boss. He was sure he had enough knowledge of dirty dealings to put the man away for years to come.
Arthur stopped by the newspaper office. He was impressed with what young Randy Burke had accomplished. He offered any assistance that may be needed in the future admitting that he may not be employed after his boss finds out he has turned on him.
The Duesenberry boys distributed the original paper that very afternoon.
Shortly after noon that day, Emma noticed the bell indicating there was a customer entering the shop was ringing continually. She came out from the back room to see people milling around the shop. Lily was busy pulling orders. Nettie and Ethel were helping customers and even Jonas was lending a hand with the crowd. Seems that in trying to cause harm to Emma and Lily's business, Harvey Wilson's deed was the best advertisement the girls could hope for. Percy not only made sure everyone in Camden Corners received a copy of the altered paper, he placed them in shops all around Greensboro and surrounding areas.
People who knew of Looking Back Antique Shop wanted to see the alleged shoddy workmanship with their own eyes. Those who hadn't been there before were curious and wanted to see for themselves what the shop had to offer.
For the next few weeks, Lily and Emma had more customers than they had ever had in the shop and sold more merchandise than ever before.
They were exhausted the day Harvey was called into court to face charges against him. Every one from Greensboro who was now living in Camden Corners made the trip that day.
Richard Crowley addressed the court. “Your honor, after careful consideration, My clients, Josephine Blackburn, Emma Crowley and Lily Crowley do not wish to press charges against Mr. Wilson. My client and wife, Emma Patterson Crowley requests the record reflect that Mr. Wilson's actions were beneficial to Looking Back Antiques in that the sales records following the unfortunate misprinting of the Camden Corners Chronicle were phenomenal and she and her partner, Lily Kramer Crowley appreciate Mr. Wilson's assistance.”
The scowl on Harvey's face was enough justice for all parties concerned.
The friends from Camden Corners gathered at one of their old favorite restaurants. Melvin Tanner announced he had been told by one of the newspaper board members that Mr. Harvey Wilson was asked to step down as president of the Greensboro News.
As the friends raised their glasses in a toast to the success of the Camden Corners Chronicle, Harvey Wilson was sitting alone in his mansion without a friend in the world.