Wednesday, March 14, 2012
A Growing Town
After seeing Marlin Cooper board the train the next morning, Sheriff Mendenhall stopped by the Crowley home to assure Polly that he thought she'd seen the last of her father. Marlin was full of chatter that morning but he never once mentioned Polly.
“Unfortunately, I have seen my share of drunkards and they usually simmer down when they know they have been beaten at their own game of intimidation.”
“I'm just sorry one of my kin acted in such a loathsome way.” said Polly.
Nettie put her arm around the girl she considered a daughter. “You have nothing to apologize for my dear girl. I knew when you were my prize student several years ago that you were special. Your family, for whatever reason, has decided their place is in Greensboro with your father. You have given them every opportunity to escape that environment. They know our door is always open.”
“Thank you Nettie, I don't know what I would do without you. Now, we have a wedding to plan and I would love your help. Thank you too, Sheriff. I'm glad to hear my father has left town. I hope you will be able to join us on New Year's Eve. Randy and I are going to be married that day so we can begin 1904 as a family.”
The Sheriff nodded at the two women as he donned his hat and walked back to his office with a much lighter step. He was always happy when trouble was averted and everything ended happily.
There was another knock on the door. Nettie opened it to see her new friend, Anna Rossi standing there.
“I hope you don't mind my stopping by like this Nettie, I was taking a walk when I saw the Sheriff leave and wanted to make sure everything was alright here.”
“Everything is just fine Anna. The Sheriff was just following up on an incident that turned out to be nothing after all. Come in please, you can help Polly and me do some wedding planning.”
“Polly dear, I'm so happy to hear you are finally planning a wedding. That Burke boy is a real catch if you ask me. My Rosa thinks the world of the Burkes. Don't tell her I told you this but she has a Burke girl all picked out for her Eddie. I think she is working her way down the entire family.”
The women all laughed. Nettie and Polly knew Rosa well and didn't doubt for a minute that it was true.
“I'll do what I can to help with the matchmaking when I'm a Burke too.”
Polly excused herself to check on Faith who was in the kitchen watching Trudy bake sugar cookies.
Nettie knew Lou Rossi was having a hard time adjusting to his retirement. He had given up his family's vineyard in Tuscany to move across the ocean. He lost his best friend and fellow vintner in Tuscany and the pleasure he once took in his vineyards was there no more. Out of all his six children, only Nick ever showed any interest in the wine business and he had lived in America for too long to ever go back to Italy.
“Luigi and Nicola have been working together. I mean Lou and Nick. I can't get use to saying these Americanized names. Anyway, I think the sparkle is coming back into Lou's eyes. He can't wait to get out of bed in the morning and go to the vineyard to check on the plantings. I just hope he doesn't get in Nick's way. Nick has been doing everything on his own for so long I wonder how he is handling his father's constant presence.”
“I wouldn't worry about Nick, Anna. He is a very good man. I often heard him quote his father when he talked about growing grapes here in our area. I'm sure Nick and Lou will get along just fine. Everyone is anxious for the winery to be completed. We are really coming up in the world here in Camden Corners. Before long we will be as big as Greensboro. I do hope we can keep the friendly atmosphere. There isn't one person in town I don't know and I like it that way.”
Nick and Lou were hovering over the grape plantings when the wind started to pick up.
“Let's go inside the winery. The shipment of oak barrels came in yesterday. I'd like you to look them over for any flaws.”
Nick put his arm around his father and the two Rossis walked through the doors of the winery. The workers were finishing up the wine cellar where the barrels would be placed waiting for the harvest the following September. Lou was impressed with the workmanship. In Tuscany the same barrels had been in service since he was a boy. His father and grandfather had insisted that their wine had an aged flavor thanks to their reuse. Lou never put that to the test but was interested to see if these new barrels would make a difference.
Lou was very proud of his son. He hadn't lived in Tuscany or around a winery in many years but he had absorbed much more than Lou realized when he did live there. He knew his son would make a fine vintner and was pleased to be with him every step of the way.
Nick was happy his father was there to give him moral support. He spent many sleepless nights wondering if he was proceeding correctly. The Hightower brothers had invested an enormous amount of money into this project. They had wanted to go first class with the winery building and Jamison Bentley came through for them. The building itself was going to be lavish. It would have a wine tasting room that would fit two hundred people at one time, a lounge area and a panoramic porch that was large enough for another hundred. The second floor is the ballroom with a platform big enough to hold a full orchestra. On the third and fourth floor there would be suites where out of town guests would be accommodated for the night or as long as they wished to visit Camden Corners. The success of the winery and all of it's amenities rested on the success or failure of the grapes growing out in the field. Anna didn't have to worry about Lou being a pest to his son, Nick thought he was a Godsend.
“Hello gentlemen” Reggie Blackburn called out as he and Jamison Bentley walked through the doors. “As you can see we've had to slow down on the winery for the time being. The crew is working full time at the hospital site completing the exterior before the weather delays us any further. Leo Carlisle and his shenanigans set us back on our timetable a couple of months and we are just catching up.”
“Lou, have you heard about Josie's heroics the day Leo was caught?” The men all laughed but they knew it had been a serious matter when Leo Carlisle held Josie at gunpoint. Josie was struck with a bout of morning sickness and couldn't hold it back any longer when she regurgitated into the face of her captor causing him to drop his weapon.
“Jamison, your design here in the winery is impressive. It's bound to be a landmark in Camden Corners.” said Lou.
“To be honest Lou, it didn't start out this way. The Hightowers had their own ideas and had me add more and more on until this was the result. I do think it will be a fine looking building when the work is completed. The setting is lovely too, the vineyards look wonderful now, just imagine how grand they will look when they reach maturity. The proximately to the lake and all the space beyond will just add to the beauty.”
“I was looking at that land son. Don't you think that should be cultivated for plantings.”
“Now that you are here Papa, I think that's a possibility. I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew for the first year.”
“We'd better get over to the hospital site. I think the crew is ready to finish up the roof today and start installing the windows. If the weather will hold off just a few more days I think we will be alright. We'll see you later at the lake house, I hope. The ladies have plans for all of us to go out caroling tonight. I told Josie I'd rather just hang around the wassail bowl but she gave me one of those looks.”
Lucinda was waiting at the hospital site when the men arrived. She was pleased that everything seemed to be going smoothly. Reggie was surprised at how much progress had been made since he left earlier that morning.
“Did you get your whip to the crew this morning Lucinda?”
“I didn't need to, the drop in temperature is speeding them up. They want to get inside the building. You just missed Doc McMillan. He stopped by to see how things were going. He seemed pleased that eventually we will be able to make additions to the building. Doc has heard from several of his colleagues who may be interested in joining the staff here. That means more work for the two of you with the housing needs that will be arising. It won't be long before we are open for business and we need to think of recruiting. Doc is expecting a young doctor this afternoon. He is coming in from Buffalo. He just completed his residency there and is looking for a place to begin his practice. Doc said he would bring him along to the caroling party tonight.”
“Hey, the more the merrier. Hope he likes to sing. It will help drown me out. I can't believe I let Josie talk me into this thing.”
Doc was waiting at the station just as the train was arriving. A good looking young man stepped off the train.
“Yes Sir, and you must be Doctor McMillan. It is a pleasure to meet you sir and I do thank you for this opportunity. Please call me Grady.”
“Good to meet you, Grady. Everybody calls me Doc. I probably wouldn't answer if anyone used my given name anyway. I have arranged for a room in the Wharton House. I think you will find it comfortable. I'll walk you there and introduce you to Mrs. Wharton. We will pass the medical office on the way and you can stop by after you are settled in.”
Doc and Grady didn't notice the two young ladies following him off the train.
“Audrey Lynch, you didn't tell me you were chasing after Dr. Murphy. I should have known there wasn't any job waiting for us here. I can't believe I fell for your deception again. I have a mind to wait in the station until the next train leaves for Buffalo in the morning.”
“Elizabeth, don't be such an old crosspatch. This is an adventure. Maybe there isn't a job waiting for us today but they will be opening a hospital next year and they will need nurses. You and I can get a feel of the town and decide if we want to move to Camden Corners.”
“You mean if you haven't gotten over your silly crush on Dr. Grady Murphy by then. You know he doesn't have any interest in you. For heaven sake Audrey, the man doesn't even know you are alive.”
“He will Elizabeth. He'll know me very well. I'm starving, let's see what they have at O'Sullivan's Pub over there. We can inquire about a place to stay for the night.”
“Alright, I'm hungry myself but I'm not staying here overnight and that's settled. As soon as we eat, we will make arrangements to go back to Buffalo.”
“Oh look, it's snowing. It would be pretty except that wind is blowing so fiercely.”
The girls walked into the pub where Fiona was just clearing off the last of the lunch crowd tables.
“Hello young ladies, Please have a seat. I'll fetch a menu for you. Looks like you have arrived in town just ahead of the big storm that's headed our way.”
“Thank you ma'am, we are from Buffalo and have seen our share of storms. I'm sure we will be able to handle it.”
Audrey and Elizabeth both had the pub's specialty, corned beef sandwiches. They even had a piece of Fiona's pumpkin pie. The pie was delicious and reminded Elizabeth of her Granny.
“Do you know of a boarding house in town Mrs. Mackenzie?” Audrey inquired as Elizabeth frowned at her. Maybe staying overnight wasn't such a bad idea. Elizabeth was tired and the weather looked pretty nasty out the window.
“Mrs. Wharton's but she was in here earlier and said she was booked solid for the whole week.”
She thought of the Watson House but since Caroline and Jamison married and adopted Kenny and Becky plus Jamison's two boys visiting often, they didn't have the room anymore.
“I'll tell you what girls. Why don't you come home with me. We have a house brimming with children of all ages but you will have your own bedroom and you should be comfortable for the night. Just looking out the window I don't think the train will be going anywhere very soon.”