Open Your Heart...continued
As he opened the book, I was mesmerized with the old photographs; while he told me who each one was. Silence took over as I realized he was touching a photo of what looked like a young man in a uniform. He cleared his throat and began to tell me a wonderful story of a beautiful lady and a handsome man that fell in love many years ago. Marriage soon followed after a short courtship, and a baby boy came along on the day his father was taking his physical to join the US Army; this was in 1940 when the worst of WWII was just beginning.
This baby, I said, it’s you isn’t it? “Yes it is, he replied and the couple is Lucy and William Cole, my name is Bill. Just as he was about to continue his story, the bell tingled above the door; we both jumped and started to laugh. Bill said to go ahead and look through the album while he assisted his customers. Walking around the back of the counter, I laid my package on the floor, slung my purse on the back of the oversized office chair and sat down with the book lying carefully on my lap.
Bill gave me a quick smile and a wink when he came back to the counter wrapping the couple’s purchase and then sat down next to me. Continuing with his story, he said “I was very young when Dad went off to war; Mother and I went to stay with her aunt in Raleigh, NC. I didn’t learn until later in life that my Father only saw me one other time when he was on leave and that was the last time. At that moment, I realized his father died in the war and understood more about Lucy Cole.
I’m sorry, was all I could mutter, wondering what it would be like not to have a father. “Don’t worry yourself about it” was his reply. “We managed to get by at first with help from family, however the heartache was too much for my mother to endure and the memories were too strong so when I was 3 years old, we moved here.” “Time never did erase the memory of the man she lost at such a young age and although she tried to hide it from me, I always felt the same sadness.”
“Would you like to know more?” he asked, Yes! I almost yelled back then sheepishly, “please”
“Well then, Mom was a hard worker; she said a little hard work never hurt anyone. Holding down two cleaning jobs at night and studying secretarial skills during the day, Mom always made me feel like we were just a rich as the Rockefellers, no matter how poor we were.” “I stayed with a neighbor in our building at night and each morning Mom would come for me.”
“At first we lived with hand-me-downs but after a while Mom would save enough money to purchase what she called an elderly.” I laughed, because I immediately knew she meant an antique. “Years past and when I was in high school, Mom decided to open her very own elderly shop.”
I could have sat there all day listening to the stories that went with each old photograph, however the day was getting away from me, and Bill was busy with his customers, so I politely excused myself. Before I left I asked Bill if he would be back.
He replied he would be there Saturday only and after that he needed to head back to his job. I had already promised Mr. and Mrs. Gambino that I would help at the bakery Saturday and was feeling disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to come back to hear more stories. I mentioned this to Bill, he replied, “I’ll tell you what, if you bring me one of their famous bagels, we can meet for lunch.” Reaching in his pocket to hand me a few dollars, I yelled “on the house” and skipped out the door.
I still had to stop at Woolworths to pick out wrapping paper, which for some reason was harder for me then choosing the gift. I always waited to purchase my Dad’s gift of a pound of chocolate covered raisins, he loved them and I wanted to make sure I got the freshest ones just a day or two before Christmas.
To be continued…