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Heather Gates, Ep. HG 26, Heather Worked the Stables and the Mill Market During Holidays

Updated on September 4, 2018
Homeplace Series profile image

Dr. Bill's first passion is family history. His second is a passion for creating family saga, historical fiction stories that share it.

Karen and Lori kept the Fireplace fire burning well

A fire burned in the Fireplace
A fire burned in the Fireplace

Saturday, December 21, 1996, at the Mill and Mill Market

At the Mill Market, discount gift certificates began to appear in the first hours they were open on Saturday morning following the Bevins Trust Annual Christmas Dinner on Friday where they were first made available. That was very gratifying to Paul and he made a note to himself to continue to follow the redemption rate. Paul was happy that Heather was working in the Mill Market this day, as it was very busy. For being such a cold morning, Paul was pleased to see that there was a steady flow of customers doing some of their Christmas shopping in his shop again this year. The Mill Market was keeping business flowing even though the Mill tours were shut down for the winter. Having the products of local crafts producers in abundance, at reasonable prices, was really working, he noted. A number of customers asked for specific types of items that had been mentioned in the Oak Springs Enterprise ad on Wednesday, as well.


Over at the Homeplace Heritage Inn, Karen and Lori enjoyed working together in helping Kevin and Carmen feel at home. They had the fire in the fireplace going anyway, on a cold December morning, but they were each perhaps a little more attentive that it was kept both going and looking good. They did get a phone call from Erin that they were about to leave Austin and were taking two shorter days for the trip as the doctor had suggested. The first day would be a little longer, and they expected to be at the Inn by early afternoon on Sunday, assuming the weather cooperated.


A second phone call was from Raynor who reported that his daughter, Randi, had arrived and they’d like to come out for a visit when it was convenient. Karen invited them to come out and share lunch with her family. The menu was ‘leftovers,’ she said, from the company dinner the day before if they didn’t mind sharing in those. She said there was plenty for everyone, and she was confident that there was both ham and turkey with a variety of vegetables and fruits for dessert. Raynor said they would be happy to come out and share. They were going to drive around Oak Springs on the way out.

They found their way from the west valley to the east valley on country roads

A rural landscape
A rural landscape

Raynor and Randi ‘Did the Town’ on Their Way to the Inn

Raynor and Randi decided to take the time they had before lunch to take a drive around the area. Randi had not been to Oak Springs at all previously, of course, and Raynor was only familiar with some areas around the valley from his numerous annual visits. He realized, moreover, that he had tended to spend his limited time there going to mostly the same places each time. There had rarely been times when he explored new areas, except for the one recent drive with Karen.


Raynor noted that he had only been to the college, by the country club, and to the lake out west of town once. They decided to start with driving by those three areas then heading to the east side of town where he had spent most of his time, around the area of the Homeplace Country Inn. The college had been built on the ridge, north and west from the town on the north side of State Highway 24 where it went on west to Houston, in Texas County. The lake was south of Highway 24 further west, near the county line. The country club was also south of 24 but closer to town, just beyond the small ridge that separated the town from the farmland around the Western Branch of Oak Creek.


From the Country Club, rather than going back up north to State Highway 24, they attempted to go east through the southern part of town. The streets and road on this route were not as direct, and curved around some smaller creeks immediately south of downtown. They did, however, find their way to a country road heading east. They enjoyed seeing the mix of old and new that was typical of small towns in this part of the country. When they came to State Highway 37 (running north and south), they knew they needed to turn north to catch Highway 24 to the Homeplace Country Inn.

They took the 4-Wheeler in search of a proper Christmas tree in the forest

4-Wheelers are very popular vehicles
4-Wheelers are very popular vehicles

Raynor and Randi Enjoyed Getting Reacquainted with the Winslow Family

Randi had known the Winslow siblings as children but it was quite a reunion to now meet them again as adults. There was much talk of earlier days in Tucson. Lori and Randi were the closest in age, of course. They had been in the same grade in school but went to different schools in Tucson. Their relationship had been more like first cousins of the same age, they decided. They looked forward to spending some time together, later on, recalling what each had done since then.


Matt was a boy, and a couple of years older, so he and Randi had some memories in common, but not as many. Erin was three years younger, so she was always “the younger sister” at the time. Randi still looked forward to talking to her, however, after she and her husband arrived the next afternoon. Kevin was just a little boy, to Randi, who mostly did his own things, as Randi recalled. They did share memories of how things had changed in Tucson since Randi had moved away to Washington, D.C., after graduating from the University of Arizona.


Meanwhile, Jeremy, Peter and Sheila had carried through with their plan to take the Mule 4-wheeler out into the nearby forest in search of an appropriate Christmas tree for their house. Even though it had been very cold overnight, near zero, it had not snowed. They wanted a pine about five feet tall with nice full branches. They told each other they would ‘know it when they saw it.’ Though he did not mention it to Jeremy and Sheila, Peter had actually scouted out two or three areas earlier in the week. So, they visited a couple of areas before ‘discovering’ an area with three or four good trees from which to choose. They had bundled up in layers against the cold, gathered their ax, saw and other tools along with some rope. Jeremy seemed to be very excited to look at each of the trees and discuss them with his parents. Before long, they settled on the one that was ‘just right’ for their house. They carefully cut it down, wrapped it up carefully, and tied it to the roof of the Mule 4-wheeler. They were very happy with their choice.

Author’s Note

This series of stories in the life of Heather Gates, a fictional character in The Homeplace Saga series of family saga, historical fiction stories (home blog found at thehomeplaceseries dot blogspot dot com), is being created as a way to use a minor character in the early writings to expand those stories and share details omitted in those earlier writings within the original overarching themes. These newly included details may have been left out of the earlier stories through editing or they may have seemed unrelated to central themes at the time. With the expansion of the entire Saga, over the years, it has become obvious that filling in some of the gaps in the story for overall better understanding of the individuals, their families, and their interactions would be useful to The Homeplace Saga body of work in total. This episode runs in parallel with the timeline of the “Christmas at the Homeplace” novel. The theme of this novel is ‘coming home for Christmas.’

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"Coming Home for Christmas" is a popular theme from family stories

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    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      10 months ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, so much, Dora, for noting that. It is what brings these stories to life for me. I just let the characters do what they will be doing, and report it!! What fun! Much life experience to share in the stories! ;-)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      10 months ago from The Caribbean

      You tell the details beautifully. Everything from leftovers for lunch, driving through town, to searching for the Christmas tree are relatable and make it easy for the reader to participate in the events.

    • Homeplace Series profile imageAUTHOR

      William Leverne Smith 

      10 months ago from Hollister, MO

      I really enjoyed your comments about your horse in your blog earlier today. Small world, as we say! Fascinating stuff!! ;-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      10 months ago from Olympia, WA

      A horse lover and a market worker...it's easier and easier to like Heather!

    working

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