Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Samantha Springer had come out of her shell. Her family moved to Camden Corners from New York City at the beginning of the year. Clay, Samantha's father had been recruited to practice medicine in the brand new Shane Howard Memorial Hospital. It had been quite a change for the big city natives but everyone in the family had adjusted well to the move.
Samantha usually had her nose stuck in a book. Her mother, Margie knew she was interested in the history of antiques and collectibles. She was happy to discover Looking Back Antique Shop and even happier when Lily Crowley suggested Samantha would be welcome to work in the shop after school. Samantha was anticipating her new job when the family attended the town's Valentine Dance. Her brother Peter had dragged her out on the dance floor and then left her in the middle of the floor so he could dance with Jennie Burke. Marty Mackenzie came to her rescue and finished the dance. They danced so well together the others all stopped and watched from the sides of the dance floor. Samantha had always liked to dance. She never walked through a room as a little girl, she always twirled through usually on her toes. While living in New York she attended the Miss Frances School of Dance. Miss Frances could see a talent in her and encouraged Margie to continue her training. She did until the family's move to Camden Corners where the closest dancing school was in Wilmington.
After Samantha and Marty's performance in the recent talent show, her sister Abigail and her friends, Iris, Cassandra and Becky asked Samantha to teach them to dance. Samantha was a very patient teacher and the girls were catching on. Before long, more and more girls were showing up at the Springer house to learn how to dance from Miss Samantha. Between the impromptu dance lessons and working at the antique shop, and keeping company with Marty Mackenzie, Samantha had little time to read about the lives of fictional characters. She was too busy with her own life.
Margie wrote to Miss Frances inquiring about an accelerated dance class that Samantha could attend during the summer. There was an opening. Miss Frances would teach Samantha all she knew about giving lessons in the hopes she would be prepared to open her own studio in the fall. Although Samantha would miss Marty and her family, it would only be for three months. It was arranged she would be staying with her friend Elinor's family while in New York.
On the last Saturday before she was ready to leave, the Fulbrights asked if she would like to go along with them to an estate sale in Brenton.
“Oh, I would love to go,” Samantha enjoyed her excursions with the Fulbrights. They always found such interesting items when they went to estate sales and auctions. Jonas always had a story to tell. Samantha wasn't sure they were all true but she loved to hear him tell them regardless. The Fulbright's grandchildren had no interest in antiques and so they were happy to have young Samantha along.
Samantha had her own money and was determined to make a find that would impress Emma and Lily. She spotted piece after piece but nothing was quite right. She followed Jonas down the stairs into the dark damp basement. Old Alvin Gates lived his whole life in this house but was now unable to care for it and moved in with his son. Alvin Gates, Jr. walked down the stairs with them holding a lantern.
“It's very dark down here. I don't want you to fall. Pa never kept too much down here. With his failing eyesight he couldn't see well enough in the darkness.”
Just to the right of the stairwell, Samantha spotted baseball bats. She walked over to them. There must have been 30 or more. The box next to them contained baseball gloves in every shape and size imaginable. There were catcher's masks, padding, base markers and dozens of baseballs. Samantha thought of her brother Pete and his friends. Pete talked non-stop about baseball. The boys played but they lacked equipment.
“How much for this baseball equipment sir?”
“Oh, let's see, I'd say $5.00 would be a good price.” Mr. Gates figured he'd start high. This little girl wouldn't know enough to bargain with him.
Jonas knew Samantha could hold her own and wasn't surprised when she came back with a counter offer.
“Not so sure they are worth that much Mr. Gates. This equipment is old. Being down here in the damp basement I'd be afraid those wooden bats might be warped. I'd be glad to take it all off your hands for two bits.”
Mr. Gates was surprised. She was a finagler after all. “Tell you what. This is a sacrifice but I might be willing to let them go for $3.00.”
“Sorry Mr. Gates, you're way too high for me. I'd be willing to give you fifty cents but that is my final offer.”
“Pa would get a real kick out of you. I think he would be willing to let them go for fifty cents. It's a deal young lady.”
Jonas and Mr. Gates helped carry the equipment up the stairs and into the wagon. Mr. Gates told them his father was a big fan of baseball. When he was a kid his pa would drag him to baseball games all over the county.
“One afternoon we arrived at the game in Henderson. Seems the manager and the players got into a big fight. The players all walked off the field and the manager got so mad he dumped all their equipment into a heap outside the fence. Pa started picking it all up and putting it into our carriage. I remember making several trips back and forth to pick up every last bat and ball. I had to sit on top of the bats on the way home. I worried that we would be caught stealing. Pa said since they were outside the fence they were on public property, and he was a member of the public which meant the equipment was on his property. I don't remember Henderson ever playing another baseball game. Maybe because they didn't have any equipment.”
The wagon was completely loaded. “Sorry Mr. Jonas, I guess I should have asked if you had enough room for all this equipment. I just got so excited when I saw it. Pete and his friends will be able to have a real baseball team now.”
“You did great Samantha. Ethel, our little girl here persuaded Mr. Gates to let all this go for 50 cents when he wanted $5.00 to begin with.”
“I only had 75 cents. I would have gone that high but I'm glad I didn't. I don't think I will let my mother know this is stolen merchandise. She would make me donate it to charity.”
They made one more stop where Samantha spent the last of her money on a porcelain ballet dancer figurine.
“I'll put this in the shop and if it doesn't sell I'll buy it for my dance studio. Don't you think it would look lovely there Miss Ethel?”
Ethel had already decided to buy it herself and put it away until Samantha's studio was opened. She would then give it to Samantha. This girl knew a bargain. Ethel would have to charge herself at least $3.00 for it.
Before Jonas was able to come to a halt in front of the Springer house, Samantha was out of the wagon and calling for Pete to come quick. Pete, Margie and Abigail came running out of the house.
“Look Pete, look what I bought for you and your friends.”
Pete's eyes opened wide. He had never seen so much baseball equipment before. He began picking up the bats swinging each and every one as he did.
“Wait til the fellows see these. Samantha, how did you find all this? You are greatest sister ever.”
Jonas helped take the equipment out. They set it on the front porch because Pete wanted to get all his friend together to see the haul.
“We'll be able to have a real baseball team now. I can't wait to tell Jennie. She'll be the best guy on our team.”
Ethel and Margie laughed. They knew Jennie loved the game of baseball as much as Pete did.
“Don't underestimate Jennie Mackenzie. I've watched her pitch a ball. If she were a boy she'd be on her way to play for the New York Giants.”
“Not the Giants Mr. Fulbright, Jennie would play for the New York Highlanders. The Giants should move out west because the Highlanders are the best team.” Pete said with pride for his favorite team and favorite girl.
Samantha thanked the older couple for inviting her along on their trip. She could tell Pete was happy with her purchase. Ethel and Jonas said goodbye to everyone as they left the Springer house for home. They were tired but happy.
“Did you see how the boy's eyes lit up when he saw what his sister bought for him? Samantha is a very special person isn't she Ethel? I'm happy she will be going to New York but we will miss having her along on our excursions. She knows how to get a bargain. I hate to admit it but I'd have paid the $3.00.”
Clay Springer was just coming home after a busy day at the hospital. As he walked toward his house he saw his lawn was covered with boys swinging bats and tossing baseballs back and forth.
“Where'd all this come from?” he called to Pete.
“Samantha brought it home from some old guy's house in Brenton. Isn't it great, Pa? We have enough here to start our own baseball team. We just have to find a place to store it. Ma says we can't keep it on the front lawn.”
Reggie Blackburn was walking toward his home when he spotted the commotion. Reggie couldn't help himself, he had to swing a bat or two.
“Hey fellas, do you know where you're going to set up your baseball diamond? There's a piece of land you could use just south of the construction company's property. It's vacant now. Miss Lucinda owns the property and I'm sure she would be happy to let you use it. We have plenty of scraps of lumber left over from the hospital and winery. My crew and I would be happy to help you build a storage shed and bleachers. I'll stop by Miss Lucinda's house. It's on my way home. I'll see if it's OK with her and if you like we can get started tomorrow.”
The boys and Jennie were excited. They accepted Reggie's offer.
Marty Mackenzie spoke up, “We'll call it the Samantha Springer Stadium.”
Samantha laughed. “No, just name it after your baseball team.”
“Hey fellas, what do you want to name our team?” Pete shouted.
“The Camden Corners Cats.” someone shouted. Everyone thought that didn't sound tough enough.
Others suggested Tigers, Bears, Cougars. It went on with everyone having their own suggestion.
Jennie interrupted. “Let's write down all of the suggestions and draw a name out of a hat. That way we can start getting this stuff off of the lawn and everyone can go home for supper. Your mothers are probably wondering where you are.”
When all the names were written on pieces of scrap paper they asked Samantha to draw a name out of a hat.
“I am pleased to announce our baseball team shall be now and forever known as The Camden Corners Grizzlies.”
Everyone was happy with the name. They all pitched in to stack the equipment on the Springer's porch. Each member of the team hurried home to supper dreaming of hitting a home run in the first game played by the Camden Corner Grizzlies.