The Kings of Oak Springs, Episode 29 - Final Book Club Meeting and School Resumed
They discussed Twain's tour of the Holy Land
The Book Club group met at the Potts home in Oak Springs
Jerry Potts, now 62 years old, was a leading citizen of Oak Springs, not because of his wealth or political influence but because of the role he now played as the Editor and Publisher of the Oak Springs Enterprise newspaper. Although only a large, single-sheet broadside, for the people of Oak Springs it represented freedom of the press, the most reliable source of both local and Regional and National news and information, and the intellectual voice of their local society. Potts was good at what he did, and he was ably assisted by his protégé, young Alex McDonald. He was also ably assisted by Mrs. Potts, that was his wife, Polly. When they first arrived back in town, after the war, they built a four-store-front two-story building along Central Avenue (running north and south), the "main drag" of the small town. In the four stores were located: the physician's office (of Jerry's brother, J.D.), a barber shop, an apothecary, and the print shop. The print shop was now also the home of the Enterprise, of course. Polly, while she based her work in the apothecary, was able to move freely from store to store within the building, to help out as needed. On the second floor they had space for four apartments over the stores. J.D. Potts occupied the first. Alex McDonald occupied the other finished apartment. The final two were still unfinished, but could be completed if an appropriate tenant came along.
Along the south side of the store building ran First Street. To the west, "behind" the store building, but facing First Street, on the corner with 1st Ave, W, was the Potts home. It was a simple frame house with four rooms and an attic. They had no children, and they each worked long hours. Their house was built and maintained for utility for the two of them. The front entrance on First Street opened into the the parlor. To the right was the dining room, with the kitchen behind that. The bedroom was behind the parlor and also opened into the kitchen. A door in the kitchen opened to the outside toward the office building. By turning left out that door, you entered the back yard with garden and horse barn area.
The three couples, the Kings, the Campbells, and the Potts' met for the final Book Club meeting for this book in the parlor of the Potts home on Saturday afternoon, February 3rd. Alex McDonald had agreed to look after the stores for them while they had their meeting. They were discussing Mark Twain's "The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress." Their last set of discussion topics were Twain's observations on the tour groups' visit to the Holy Land. They each shared their mild surprise as they talked about the shift that seemed to occur in Twain's tone as the story turned to the visit to the Holy Land. Earlier in the book, he had been witty and comedic, sometimes biting and bitter. Now, as his narrative turned to the Holy Land, his tone seemed to become a combination of light-hearted comedy and a reverence not unlike what he had previously mocked in his traveling companions. Karl was pleased to hear the others had noted the change, as well. He had been fearful that he was reading something wrong. Jerry assured Karl that he had gotten it right. Jerry added he had read some reviews of the book and they confirmed that opinion. Sally Campbell confirmed that she had seen one review that had said the same thing. They all six agreed they had made a very good decision in choosing this particular book.
They broke a new trail across the farm
Abner Wingfield asked Karl King to help him build the Adams' house
Karl and Katherine were just finishing their dinner when they heard the dog barking, announcing the arrival of a visitor. Looking out the window, Karl was surprised to see Abner Wingfield dismounting and tying his horse to the hitching rail in front of their house. Karl went to the door to greet Abner. "Come on in, Abner, what brings you out this way on a chilly February day?"
After exchanging greetings, Katherine brought fresh cups of coffee for Karl and Abner who sat at the cleared dinner table to chat. Katherine went about cleaning up after their dinner meal. Abner had been over at the Adams' farm, inspecting the foundation that was left there by the prior owner before the war. "Karl, that foundation that Silas Adams wants to build on is almost in identical shape to what yours was when you folks moved here last spring. Silas has asked me to get to work on their house so that is up and ready for him to do the finishing on when they get here, for good, sometime in March."
"Interesting," Karl replied, with a puzzled look on his face. "Not too surprising, I suppose. And exactly why are you telling me this, at this time?" Karl smiled, awaiting the reply.
"Well, Karl, I have a proposition for you. You might have guessed. I want to get my son, Peter, involved in my construction business. He is interested, he has helped me out from time to time. I've got a couple of other jobs going right now or I'd do this myself. But, you did such a good job on getting the flooring down, on your house, with the help of your son. I was wondering if you would consider working with Peter on the Adams' flooring? He hasn't worked on that particular aspect of a home, yet. I'll make it worth your time, of course. I want to have that part done long before you're going to be able to be working in the fields, of course."
"And you would consult on the work, so I know that I'm… Peter and I… are doing what you want done, the way you want it done?"
"Of course. I'll be responsible for having the materials you need. I can stop by for short periods, to answer questions, I just can't be there the full-time needed to do the work. Do you think you could do that for me, and for Peter?"
Karl ran it through his mind. This was certainly not in his plans, but it would not take a lot of time, that was for sure. Silas was also now becoming a good friend and about to be neighbor. So, there was that to consider, as well. "Yes, Abner, I will be happy to help out. How soon would you want to be getting to it?"
They chatted a bit about the details. Abner added, "Silas showed me a good ford of the creek in the middle of his farm. Could you take a ride back up there with me, and we can both look at the foundation some, as we continue to break a trail between here and there?"
"Sure, why not? It is a sunny day, even if a bit chilly. I'll get my gear, and we'll go take a look."
They got to work on the new flooring on the foundation
The Spring School Term resumed on Monday, February 12
Karl was also surprised, as Abner had said, how similar the condition of the foundation on the Adams' place was to what theirs had been. Silas had said the size of the foundation would be fine for their house and there were no repairs that would need to be done on it. Karl confirmed this with his own inspection. Some old, rotted wood needed to be cleared away, but that was the easy part. Karl and Abner worked out a tentative work plan and decided, pending the weather, of course, to start the work on mid-morning, on Monday, February 12. Karl said he would come out directly after dropping off the students at school, and work with Peter until he needed to go back to pick up the students in the afternoon. They estimated it would take the better part of three workdays, but they'd plan on being available for four, if needed. This was based on decent weather, of course. This time of the year, they knew that anything was possible.
Karl, and his children, were actually excited to get back into the school routine, once the time finally arrived to do that. Junior Yokum arrived in good time and Karl had the horses and carriage all ready for the day's activities. They headed off for the start of a new school term for the children picking up the Dent children along the way, of course.
When Karl got to the work site at the Adams farm, Peter was already well into completion of clearing away the old wood and brush from around the foundation. Karl was impressed, and said so. Peter provided a sly smile and replied, "Thank you, Sir." He then continued to work, as Karl got out his tools, and began to move into place the first of the boards needed for their work, from the stack under a tarp. They chatted, from time to time, as they worked. Karl quickly confirmed in his own mind what Abner had told him about Peter. He was a good, well-disciplined worker. He followed directions well, and did what he was told to do. Karl appreciated that. He could see they would be very efficient in getting the flooring built on the foundation of this house.
Direct link to the prior and next episodes in this series of stories
- The Kings of Oak Springs | Episode 30 | February 1877 Fourth Sunday, new babies and more
Two new community babies and a marriage highlighted the announcements at Fourth Sunday. Sunday School registrations were taken. Karl talked to Owen Olson about his son, Liam, and his depression.
- The Kings of Oak Springs | Episode 28 | The Kings learned the Adams family would become neighbors
In this episode we see the Kings at another Book Club meeting, this time at the Campbell house. Silas and Rhoda Adams visit, and the Kings realize they will be neighbors. Sunday School plans are made.
Note from the author
This is the twenty-ninth episode of this short story series, and the ninth of what is now Volume Two. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This Episode is the second in the calendar year 1877, following the time period (1833-1875) of the recently released “American Centennial at the Homeplace: The Founding (1833-1876)” collection of short stories. Some of these earlier stories are published on The Homeplace Saga blog, found at the link, below. These episodes more the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.
The first 20 episodes of this series have now been compiled into an eBook, titled:
"The Kings of Oak Springs: The Arrival Months in 1876 Vol 1." See the link, below, to get yours.
“The Homeplace Saga” historical fiction family saga stories are the creation of the author, William Leverne Smith, also known as “Dr. Bill.”