Anna’s Butter Mold

Vintage Daze

When Mr. Campbell, owner of the town’s mercantile, asks Anna to bring in her butter for trade, Anna laments not having a butter mold. Mr. Campbell shows her a catalog that offers several nice molds, but husband Henry says they don’t have enough money. To Anna’s delight, Henry comes up with a solution.

A Mold Like No Other is a short story in my monthly newsletter, Back Story, written for the monthly theme – butter molds. You can read the whole issue here.

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Sit back and relax. Take a trip back in time and enjoy this monthly short story.

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A Mold Like No Other

Henry reined the horses to a stop in front of Campbell’s Mercantile. Setting the hand brake on the wagon, he hopped down to the slushy road and scurried around…

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Dear Arlie – bean

Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘bean.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Typically at the community picnics at Old Settler’s Park Arlie was like the belle of the ball, traipsing back and forth amongst the different groups of families and friends. On this Fourth of July gathering though, she was more sedate than usual. She sat primly on the family’s woven blanket, legs tucked underneath her in a ladylike manner as she listened attentively to George. In between his ramblings, he’d stop to stuff his mouth with a huge bite of the fried chicken he was so anxious to get.

In these quiet pauses, Arlie’s mind would wander. What surprise does he have for me?

“Baked beans?” George’s words caught her unawares and she jerked to attention, almost knocking the pan of golden brown nuggets out of his hands.

“Oh, no…sorry. You caught me woolgathering.”

“About anything exciting?”

“No…not anything in particular…not really,” Arlie stammered. She didn’t want to admit that her thoughts were racing through her brain, trying to put together little bits of puzzle pieces in an attempt to figure out what his surprise was.

The family finished eating and passed their plates to Mother, who gathered the dirty dishes and utensils and placed them in the picnic hamper, along with the leftover food. Everyone lay back relaxing with full bellies and the summer sun beating down upon them.

William and Eddie wandered by and stopped to visit. “Hey, George…want to join us in a game of horseshoes?”

George turned to Arlie with a question in his eyes. “Do you mind?”

“Of course not. You go on. I’ll stay here in the shade and rest.”

After the men ambled off, Arlie’s mother looked her square in the eye. “Are you alright, dear?”

“Yes, Mother. I’m fine.”

“You’re so quiet today. You’re not being a little gadfly between all your friends.”

Arlie sighed and tried not to be disrespectful towards her mother. “Remember…Millie’s in Michigan. And Pauline’s moved. Only Alla’s here today. I haven’t seen where the Richardson’s are sitting, and it’s too muggy to go walking about in search of her.”

“Just asking, dear, to make sure nothing’s amiss.”

“Really, Mother. I’m fine and dandy.” Arlie paused and stroked her chin. “Besides, George has a surprise for later tonight and I’m trying to figure out what it is.”

Arlie tipped her head up in time to see her father trying to suppress a grin. “What? Father? Do you know anything about what George is planning?”

Arlie’s father coughed and wiped his hand across his mouth as if trying to wipe his expression away. “No…no…not a clue. Don’t know a thing about what the young fella has up his sleeve.”

Shaking her head in disgust, Arlie laid back on the blanket and closed her eyes. This is going to be the longest day in history.

But, after a short cat nap, and George returning all red and flushed to wake her, the day passed by quicker than she’d imagined. Neighbors stopped by to chat with one another. The mayor and his wife circulated among the crowd, passing out small flags to anyone who didn’t already have one. When everyone was getting hungry again, they dug out the pans of food and cleaned up the rest of it. And before she knew it, the evening sky was dimming, and the crowd was beginning to stir and get restless.

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George spoke to Arlie’s father. “Sir, may I whisk your daughter away to watch the fireworks from a special spot?”

Arlie’s father winked as he answered. “Naturally, son. Long as it’s not too secluded and private.”

George blushed and stood. “No, sir! It’s nothing like that. It’s a spot I discovered last year. At the edge of the park. And you can see the fireworks quite clearly. Not a tree nor a bush to hid them.” He glanced up at the towering oaks they were sheltered by as if to make a point. He held out a hand to help Arlie stand.

Arlie took his hand and felt her heart flutter at his touch. She felt flush at the thought of being alone with him at the edge of the park, just the two of them with no family and friends.

When they arrived at the location George led them to, he turned and apologized. “I’m sorry. I neglected to bring a throw to sit upon. I suppose we’ll have to stand and watch.” He glanced over to a rock overcropping at the top of a small ravine. “Unless you want to sit over on that boulder? Although it’s not much of a chair for a princess.”

“Oh, George, you know me. I’m not that prim and proper.” She waved her hand in the air as if brushing the thought away. “But you can scout it out and make sure there’s no snakes.”

Grabbing a small limb laying underneath a hickory tree behind them, George did his manly duty and pushed and prodded at all the nooks and crannies. Declaring the area free of vermin, he proceeded to grandly lay his white handkerchief out on the flattest part of the rock for Arlie to sit on. There the two sat, shoulder to shoulder, as the bangs started and the night air was filled with sparkling flashes of red, white, and blue.

They sat in awe, the flares in the night sky being much tamer than the sparks that were igniting in their bodies. As the grand finale lit up the valley in an explosion of light and color, George turned to Arlie and caressed her cheeks with his palms. “My sweet, sweet Arlie…would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

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Dear Arlie – bike

Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘bike.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Arlie rushed to the front door and flung it open to reveal George standing on the covered porch.

He held his straw fedora in his hands, nervously twisting it in circles. “My, aren’t you a lovely vision for this fine Fourth of July?”

Arlie tucked a few strands of loose hair into her bun and primped. “Why, thank you, kind sir. And you are so handsome in your freshly pressed shirt and striking tie. Is it new?”

George shuffled his feet and dropped his head as if suddenly shy. “It is. Got it at John Campbell’s mercantile for our outing today.” He tipped his head up and raised his shoulders as if finding an inner well of courage. “Are you ready to go? I heard the band practicing on the way here. The parade should be starting soon.” He held out an elbow, ready to escort his girl.

“Let me grab my parasol and tell Mother that I’m leaving.” Arlie dashed back inside, leaving her guest standing on the wrap around porch in front of a wide open door.

George awkwardly stood, as if unsure whether to enter, stay where he was, or sit on the porch swing and wait. Before he could decide which plan of action to follow, Arlie appeared in the doorway, tucking an embroidered handkerchief in her waistband, a white lacy parasol dangling from her wrist. Taking his offered elbow, she slid a gloved hand into the bend and the two stepped down off the porch and headed towards Main Street.

A squeaky noise appeared behind them, accompanied by a soft scrunching sound. Both George and Arlie turned their heads to look and saw Arlie’s neighbor on a bike soon to overtake them.

Arlie squealed with delight. “Look at Mrs. Henderson go!”

George chuckled as he watched the woman ride past them, her eyes intent on the road and never veering towards the pedestrians. “Bet the whole population of Ellwsorth will be in attendance today.”

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By the time they’d reached the downtown of their small community, Arlie already had her parasol open and was shading them both. Heat waves shimmered off of roofs and surfaces. Dust from the foot traffic billowed around the crowd, but everyone was so caught up in the excitement, that the heat didn’t slow anyone down.

A drum cadence announced the start of the parade and those mingling in the middle of the street quickly moved to the sides, clearing the way for the uniformed drum crew. A vendor passed along behind the crowd hawking his wares. “Flags here. Get your flags here. A penny a piece.”

George dug in this pocket and handed the stubble-faced man two pennies. He and Arlie now had a flag in hand to wave with the other observers. Three motor cars followed, with billowing drapes of red, white and blue festooning each vehicle. The local suffragettes followed at the tail end, waving flags high above their heads, while two women on each side of the group handed out flyers to the crowd lining the street.

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Arlie frowned as they passed by. “How I wish Millie were here for the fun today. It’s just not fair that her father spirited them away to Michigan. She’s always been here for the festivities. And Pauline too. This is the second year she’s missed. I wish she hadn’t moved all the way to Los Angeles.”

“Do you ever hear from her?”

“From Pauline?” Arlie waited for George’s nod of agreement before continuing. “Yes. A postcard now and then. Not often enough. But several times a year. We were so close for so many years. She’d often take the train down from Bloomington and join us at Old Settler’s Park for different events. Now our little group this year is down to me and Alla.”

“And me,” George reminded her.

Arlie patted his shoulder in reassurance. “Yes, dear George. You too. The best part of the day.”

He grinned slyly. “Maybe before the day is over, I can make it even better for you.”

“Better? Come now, dear man. How could that be? Do tell.” Arlie pursed her lips in a pout.

“Tell? And ruin the surprise? That would never do. You’ll just have to wait for the fireworks to find out.”

“Not find out till the fireworks? But that’s hours and hours away!”

The crowd began dispersing and moving down the street towards the park. George, the ever perfect gentleman, held out his arm to guide Arlie along. “My sweet Arlie. You’ll just have to wait in suspense. Now, let’s join the others at the picnic, lest they think I’m hogging you all to myself for the whole day. Much as I’d love to do that.”

“Give a little hint at least?”

George stopped and turned to look her square in the eye. “A hint? Hmmmm…fireworks and the desire of my heart…a lover’s moon…Arlie Shinkle on my arm…”

George Noble Paxton. That does not constitute a hint.”

“Then I suppose you’ll just have to wait. Let’s go eat. I’m famished and my stomach has been rumbling for some of your Cook’s delicious fried chicken.”

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Dear Arlie – picture prompt

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Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. There’s three photos to choose from. This is the one I chose.

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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With the long walk, the heat of the day and the water play, exhaustion settled in around the group of friends bringing the siren sound of slumber. Millie and Alla ambled back towards the blanket. Soon drooping eyelids proved that the others were ready to join William and Eddie, who were still dozing.

Arlie stood and nudged the two sleepers with a bare foot. “C’mon, let’s head back home. I have no intention of falling asleep out here where an insect is sure to fly in my open mouth.”

The boys sat up and stretched while the girls began packing up the food. On the walk back, the six weren’t as chatty or animated as they’d been on the way to the meadow. The three girls traipsed on ahead with the three boys lagging behind.

Millie eased up to Arlie and spoke softly in her ear. “So? What did you two talk about?”

Arlie answered with a Cheshire cat grin. “Not much important. But – he’s going to stop by Tuesday morning and walk me to the picnic.”

No matter how much Millie prodded and pleaded, Arlie didn’t add any further information.

The next two days a restless Arlie wandered the house. Her mother finally snapped at her. “Will you go in the kitchen and help Cook? You’re pacing is about to give me a case of the vapors.”

The minutes ticked by on the grandfather clock hanging on the foyer wall, with resonate gongs sounding every hour. Finally, the sun was breaking on a hot and humid Fourth of July day. Arlie stayed upstairs so she wouldn’t be called into helping with the picnic preparations. But her door remained open so she could listen.

Just as the clock finished chiming eight o’clock, Arlie heard a loud knocking on the oak door. Her feet flew down the stairs, her hand barely brushing the polished walnut hand rail.

 

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Fargo Women Plot and Plan

Inside This Writer's Mind

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Fargo Women Plot and Plan
A Vintage Daze Short Story

By Trisha Faye

AMAZON LINK:

SUMMARY

The women of Fargo, Texas band together to create a church cookbook. Even though 1935 was a difficult year for most of the country, the women are determined. Extreme heat, drought, dust storms – they are nothing compared to the wake of women on a mission. But will the force of the worst dust storm in history derail the women’s project? Take a step back in time in this Vintage Daze Short Story. This historical fiction is inspired by actual women and their ‘How We Cook Down on the Farm’ cookbook created for the Fargo Baptist Church.

Seventeen recipes from the 1935 cookbook are included with this short story.

EXCERPT:

Maude stood in the doorway, hesitant, as every seat was full. She looked around the room, feeling a little out of place. Doilies filled…

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Dear Arlie – business

Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘box.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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The small group finally arrived at the meadow, their journey slowed by the joking and lollygagging along the way. As they headed towards the small corpse of trees where they typically laid out the picnic blanket when they came to the creek to play and cool off, Arlie spoke up. “I’m so excited about the picnic and fireworks this year.” She tried to suppress a widening grin. “I even have a new frock to wear for the Fourth. It’s got huge blousey sleeves with a fun red, white, and blue trim.”

George looked in her direction and winked. “I’m looking…”

Before he could finish his thought, Millie butted in. “I won’t be there this year. I’m going to miss it.” She pursed her lips in a pout.

Arlie stopped and spun around. “You won’t be there? But why ever not? You’re always part of our little gathering. You, me, Alla – and Pauline before she moved. You have to be there!” Arlie gestured emphatically as if the waving of her hands in the air would make it so. She paused and scrunched her eyes, little lines around the corners emphasizing her worried look. “But what about the flyers? I thought you were going to help your mother and her friends pass out the flyers we folded the other afternoon. The ones advocating our right as women to vote.”

“Father’s being a beast. He took some time off from the bank. We’re going to motor up to Michigan on Monday.” Millie frowned and stuck out her tongue. “For the whole month! Imagine! What am I to do up there for the whole month with no friends? Although – it is awfully strange that he’d come up with this grand idea so suddenly. Almost as if he’s out to foil Mother’s plan to participate with the suffrage group.”

Quiet Alla spoke up from the rear. “Michigan? Why there? You have family there?”

Although Millie’s tongue returned to its proper place, the frowny pout remained planted on her face. “No family. Father says one of his business associates told him of an Inn that’s a wonderful place to holiday at. Sauble Inn, if I recollect. There’s supposed to be a grand lake with rowing and fishing. I imagine Father will be planted behind the end of a pole for most the days. It shall be dreadful. I know I’ll pine away from loneliness.”

A young woman always shows her sunny disposition. Words that Arlie’s mother frequently admonished her with came floating through her mind to haunt her. And, although she was slightly concerned about how it appeared that Millie’s father was attempting to sabotage his wife’s activism activities, thoughts of spending time with George crowded out her other concerns. “Well, if there’s rowing that should be delightful.”

“I suppose. At least it shall be cooler up there,” Millie conceded.

Arlie turned and began walking again towards the shaded glen. “Speaking of cooler, let’s sit down the blanket and basket and go cool our feet first before we eat.”

dear arlie_wading1.jpgThe rest followed and soon all six were down at the creek removing shoes and socks. The three boys were slowed as they rolled up pants legs, while the three girls simply picked up the edges of their skirts and were wading about in the ankle deep creek.

George was the first of the boys in the water, trousers up about his knees and hat still in place. He made his way towards Arlie.

Arlie giggled and kicked up a foot, splashing water in his direction.

“Arlie Shinkle…” he started in protest, then chuckled and splashed a handful of water back towards her. “You better behave, or I’ll get even at the fireworks.”

dear arlie_wading2.jpg“Now just how will you get even then? There’s not a bit of water about at the park.”

“No, no water. But there’s watermelon – and cold drinks. You just never know, my sweet girl.” His eyes twinkled as he teased her.

After an hour splashing about, the friends returned to the picnic area, cooled and refreshed. They dug into the hamper with relish, eating as if it were their first meal in a week. Full and replete, they lounged on the plaid, woven blanket. William and Eddie soon snored away, their heads propped up on their rolled up jackets. Arlie and George spoke quietly to one another, seated next to each other at the far corner. Millie and Alla, wanting to give their friend a little private time with her beau, grabbed their cameras and headed back down to the stream.

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Dear Arlie – box

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Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘box.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

 

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Although the heat was rising, it didn’t slow the group of six friends down. They were on a mission to reach the cool shade of grove of trees lining the meadow. Only the girl’s silliness gave them occasional pause, as they stopped along the way when their giggles overcame them as they frolicked in front of the camera lens.

Millie took the camera from around her neck and held it out. “George, come get the camera and take a photograph of us girls.”

“I don’t know how to use that new-fangled contraption. Last time I shot a photograph it was still the old box type.”

“You can do it. It’s a snap. Come here, I’ll show you what to do.”

After a two minute instruction on the workings of the Kodak, George seemed satisfied that he could operate the device. “Besides,” he countered, “if you two girls can do it, then a strapping fellow such as I should be able to.”

Arlie snickered. “It’s not the brawn that will take a good photograph. It’s the brains that matter for this.”

George looked up at Arlie with a twinkle in his eye. “Then I guess I’ve got the brains too. After all, I’ve got enough smarts to know that I want you for my girl.”

A hot blush rose from Arlie’s neck and tainted her cheeks scarlet. She opened her mouth, but not a word came out.

“What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” George teased.

Alla’s raised voice from behind them shattered the moment. “Come on you two. Arlie, get over here with Millie and I so George can take our picture.”

Reluctantly Arlie turned to go join her two friends. She rather would have stayed and pursued the conversation with George. A Cheshire grin lit up her face as they posed for the camera.

He likes me! He wants me for his girl!

As she settled in on a wooden step between Millie and Alla, Millie rose up and started acting like she was going to climb over the makeshift ladder contraption set over the barbed wire fence.

Arlie’s grin widened, even though she tried to sound outraged. “Millicent Arnold! What in the world. Get back down here before you show those young men more than they need to see. Sit down properly so George can get a good shot of us.”

The click of the camera echoed across the space and the girls knew that Millie’s shenanigans were captured on celluloid. “I get this one. It’s my birthday so I get this picture to put in my scrapbook.”

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Dear Arlie – silver

I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘silver.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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As raindrops started pelting the glass, Arlie threw her hands to her cheeks and moaned. “Nooooo! It can’t rain.”

“Don’t think you have any say in the matter.” Millie was nothing if not matter of fact. “It’s gonna rain whether you want it to or not.”

“But it will be too muddy!” Arlie stomped her foot on the oak plank floor and crossed her arms across her chest in a pout. “And I want a picnic for my birthday.”

Alla shook her head slowly. “Oh…waaa…waaa…you get quite maudlin sometimes, Arlie. Do you think everything in life is going to go your way?”

A look of shock flashed across Arlie’s face. “Now that you mention it, dear…why…yes. I do believe that circumstances should favor my needs.”

“Your needs…and your whims…” Alla didn’t look very sympathetic.

“Oh poppycock. Needs. Whims. Wants. Whatever you want to call it. I do believe life should go according to my desires.” The firmness set in Arlie’s jaw compounded her intent.

Millie turned from where she stood watching the rain cascade down the bay window. “If you two would stop your snipping with each other and think logically about it, you’d realize that Arlie’s birthday isn’t for another week. It’s not likely that it’s going to rain for a solid week. It will be dry by picnic day.”

“You think. It’s rained for a week at a time before. Sometimes even two.” Arlie wrung her hands and began pacing the length of Millie’s bedroom.

“It has. But not during summer thundershower season. That usually happens in the spring.” Millie gracefully eased herself back down on her vanity seat. “Besides, as my Granny always says, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ And she should know, with all the years she has behind her.”

Alla nodded her head in agreement, but didn’t add to the conversation.

Arlie scoffed in protest. “What silver lining could there be with this rain?”

Millie took a deep breath and appeared to be searching for patience. “Why dear, you know how low the creek gets during the summer. Some years it’s barely running by now. This rain will refresh the springs and it should be a nice wading depth for us in a week.”

Arlie didn’t look convinced. But when she awoke the next morning to the brilliant rays cast through her bedroom window, she knew that her friends were most likely correct. And they were. The rest of the week passed with nary another drop and the day of her party promised to be dry…and hot.

Saturday morning she sprung out of bed, wide eyed and bushy tailed. She could hardly get her corset tightened fast enough to run downstairs and check on the picnic preparations. When she scurried into the kitchen, she saw that Cook already had everything under control. An opened picnic hamper sat on the table, with a checked tablecloth folded beside.

Cook stood in front of a sizzling pan, turning pieces of fried chicken in the spattering oil. “Go on, girl. Get yourself some breakfast. You’ll have to wait on yourself this morning if you want this food ready before your friends arrive.”

“I do believe I’ll just have a piece of toast this morning.”

“Toast?” Cook snorted. “That won’t give you sustenance until the midday meal. You’ll waste away before you get to the meadow.”

“Okay. Toast with a bit of apple butter…and maybe a piece of fruit. I’m too nervous to eat much.”

Cook tried to suppress a smile. It didn’t work. The grin showed from ear to ear. “It’s that George fellow, isn’t it? You’re all atwitter over him going on the grand adventure with you today.”

Arlie smiled back at the sassy woman that had been a feature in their kitchen since she was a sprite. “Maybe…”

“Twaint no maybe about it. I can see what happens every time he’s around. You light up like a Christmas candle on a Christmas tree. That you do.”

Arlie cut a slice of bread from yesterday’s fresh baked loaf and popped it in their new-fangled contraption. Before it popped up ready to go, Alla and Millie arrived with a Kodak camera dangling around each of their necks. The girls giggled together while Arlie ate her light meal. Cook placed the containers of food in the picnic hamper, with plates and utensils laid in on the side of the basket. As she closed the lid, a knock at the side door announced more guests.

Arlie threw open the door to see George, William, and another boy standing on the porch.

George spoke up first with a slight blush rising up as the three stepped inside the kitchen. “Morning, Miss Arlie. This is Eddie, Williams’s cousin. You don’t mind if he tags along with us today, do you?”

Arlie cast her eyes down and simpered. “Why, not at all. It’s my pleasure.” She turned to the new fellow and held out her hand. “Eddie, so glad you could join us today.”

Millie looked up, appearing excited to see a third male guest. With a quick glance she acknowledged Eddie and then turned and dismissed him.

Alla made her way across the room towards where William stood inside the door. She hesitated as she passed Millie and murmured. “Not your cup of tea?”

Millie whispered back. “Not hardly. Too young and fresh faced. But he’ll be good company for the day.”

Chattering a mile a minute, the six friends left for the meadow. They moved as a group, taking turns carrying the wicker hamper until they reached the railroad tracks where they broke into pairs to traverse the portion they needed to walk along to reach the path that led to the meadow.

Millie hung back behind the others, hoping to capture a few photographs without her friends knowledge.

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Dear Arlie – picture prompt

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I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, so the posts will be 300 words or less.

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Arlie shook her head vigorously, causing a lock to spring from her tidy bun and drape down the nape of her neck. “Not this year. After all, I’ll be turning twenty. I’m getting much too old for that now. Don’t you think?”

When Alla and Millie merely looked at her with questioning gazes, Arlie shrugged her shoulders and chattered on. “Besides…then I can’t invite the fellas to join us. A taffy pull would be fun. The boys would join us, loving anything with candy and sweets.”

Alla snickered. “And by boys you mean George. Right?”

A haughty rise in Arlie’s shoulders hinted at her inner agitation. “Naturally I mean George. Just as you’d enjoy pulling taffy with William.” She stuck her lower lip out in a pout. “But Mother nixed that idea. She said July heat is too ferocious to have molasses boiling all afternoon.”

“Arlie Lorraine Shinkle…” Millie spat the words out in frustration. “So what are you planning for your birthday party? Don’t keep us in suspense.”

“Well…I was…maybe…” Arlie hemmed and hawed.

“Spit it out,” Alla commanded in a rare show of authority.

“I was thinking a picnic in the meadow. I’ll ask Cook to fix us up a picnic basket with fried chicken and finger foods. We could go to that shady glen nestled at the bottom of the meadow. After lunch we could wade in the stream. Get our feet wet.”

“You just want to show off your trim ankles to the guys. You’re such an indecent lass sometimes.” Millie giggled at her impudent accusation. “You are inviting the fellows, aren’t you?”

As Arlie nodded in agreement, a distant rumble of thunder echoed across the skies and through the room. All three girls dashed to the bay window.  The wind whipped elm branches about and the sky darkened with the threat of an imminent thunderstorm.

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Three friends – circa 1911

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Dear Arlie – earth

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I’m taking a break from Ten O’clock Scholar to work on a historical short story for an upcoming anthology. Dear Arlie is a fictional tale about five friends in their early 20’s, set in 1911. While fictional in nature, snippets about these real women have been taken from actual postcard correspondences between Pauline Washburn and Arlie Shinkle.

In Tuesday Tales, we write to a weekly word prompt. Once a month we write to a picture prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘earth.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here, to read other fun tidbits of upcoming works.

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Arlie straightened the stack of pamphlets in front of her, then leaned back and fidgeted with the cameo brooch pinned on her collar. “This isn’t as important as these flyers about our right to vote, but…are you two coming to my birthday party?”

Millie spun towards Arlie so fast she sent a flurry of the precious folded flyers tumbling across the dining room floor. She bent to retrieve them before her mother saw her and chided her for carelessness, and her friends came around the oak table to help. Millie glanced up, her hands still in motion gathering the mess. “When’s your party?”

“The party will be July first. It’s a Saturday. My birthday is on the third, but with all the festivities going on, Mother got the vapors just thinking about all she’d have to do in two days’ time.” Arlie sighed and rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why she’s in such a state about it. It’s not like she actually does anything. Cook is making all the food for the picnic at the park. And I’m sure Cook will be in charge of my party preparations too.”

Alla spoke up in defense of the absent parent. “There’s a lot to get ready for a party. There’s all the cleaning too, getting the house ready for guests.”

“Cleaning?” Arlie giggled at the thought. “Mother doesn’t clean either. Cook does all the dusting, shining, polishing, and beating of the rugs. Mother stays busy crimping her corset tighter and polishing her pearls.”

Millie’s mother entered the room, her skirts swirling around her quick steps, sending a light breeze in the direction of the errant papers. “What on earth? Millie, darling, whatever are you three doing on the floor in the middle of this…this…jumble?”

“Now Mother, it was just a little fumble on my part. See, we’ve just about got it all picked up.”

Millie’s mother simply shook her head with a bemused smile on her face. “Sweet, sweet child. I do believe you got your clumsiness from your father. Speaking of which…” She turned and looked at the ornate walnut coo coo clock sitting on the fireplace mantle. “…he’s due home from the bank. And I, obviously, don’t have his supper even started yet. You three may want to make yourself scarce to avoid the upcoming fireworks. And it will be the dark, sputtering ones, not like the pretty flashy ones we’ll see on the Fourth.”

The girls laid the papers on the table and took off for Millie’s room where they could talk about the upcoming birthday activities. Alla and Arlie plopped themselves on the downy mattress, while Millie turned her vanity chair towards the bed and sat on it.

Alla almost wiggled with excitement. “Arlie, are you having a slumber party again this year?”

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