Friday, July 25, 2014

The Newel Post

Wheatland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Dad eyed this house as a small boy. I used a bit of that story as basis for a scene in Main Street. He and Mom chose West Middlesex for their first bought home after the war and renting on Orchard Street in Sharon. The first house, gone now, sat a few blocks down the street from this one.
One day in 1964, my father by himself, saw Co Byers, I suppose in the front yard. I think Dad walked around, or maybe like I do now, drove past places that please the eye on his way home from work.
Mom told me, Dad came home, informing her he gave Co Byers a thousand dollars to hold the house till he could get a loan. Co was selling Dad's dream house. She looked around at the house they had just remodeled and inwardly groaned a bit. Yet, our growing family, with me, wouldn't fit much longer, there.
I was three, until then sleeping in my brother's room. He turned thirteen, time for a young man to have his own room. My teen sisters needed their own space. Then Great Uncle Dave slept in a room off the kitchen, dumping vegetables on the table at six in the morning for my mom to can. He gardened any free space in town. On moving day, Dad told Mom to leave the canning jars.
The new five bedroom home echoed with space. Three bathrooms over two appealed, even though the one was first an upstairs kitchen. Dad bought his dream and remodeling commenced again. He never stopped improving his home. He'd borrow some money for a project, pay that loan off and borrow more to keep the home more than in repair. It seemed we always had workmen helping, but Dad did a lot of it himself, too.with Mom and I helping at times. The worst job for my mom was the time he painted the outside by himself. Double ladders perched on picnic tables, with every scrape, Mom's heart jumped as she imagined Dad falling to his fate. He agreed to pay someone in the future when the house needed painted.
I thought of all this the morning after I published my second book. I have not won the lottery. I still need to keep my afternoon job. The newel post popped into my mind as I let the worries of money flood my morning slumber. I saw the pink jewel fixed into the top of the black stained wood. I grabbed hope.
Years before, we visited Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the home of the only president from our commonwealth, James Buchanan's Wheatland. Our neighboring town is named for that estate, as Hermitage is named for Andrew Jackson's home. The guide pointed out that in those days of 1850's, when the mortgage was paid off, they placed a jewel on the post, so all could see this home belongs to the owners. In the gift shop, Mom purchased a pink one, yes, because my favorite color was pink then.
That jewel laid in its box for a few years. At the time, it felt long. I suppose when you're ten, one third of your life creates the illusion of many years. One day, despite Dad having been in that accident, and not working for two years, on sick leave, we could unveil that pink stone. The mortgage paid off, the newel post adorned with that symbol, the house was truly Dad's. He achieved the dream of his house.
I wonder today, how Dad did that, with not working. We had food stamps. My brother helped a lot with the bills. I knew we didn't have extra money, even then, but I never felt poor. Dad did not allow a spirit of poverty to invade our life. We always had enough.
I struggle with finances. I know from conversations I am not alone. Years ago I started hearing some people called payday,"Exchange Day." I dug deep into that memory of the newel post to not feel poor, to not worry, to trust in God to supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. Dad and Mom lived through worse as children and they never let me feel we were in need. That pink stone on the newel post told me so.
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