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The Kings of Oak Springs - Episode 46 - February 1882 Snow and Cold
February brought snow and cold
Winter arrived with a vengeance
Following a generally mild January, winter arrived on February 1 with 8 inches of snow on the ground. Karl recalled that this pattern did not seem unfamiliar. However, this year, two days later, 5 more inches fell and then it got very cold, near zero, for nearly a week. The Ozark Mountains were not supposed to be like that. There was no melting during that time. Even as it warmed up in the following days, it stayed in the twenties and thirties for another week. It had been miserable, every morning, day after day, going out to be sure all of the animals had water, feed, and sufficient shelter. Nothing died, but they paid a stiff price in time and energy to ensure that.
One day, as things seemed to be stabilizing, Karl said to his son, Kent: “Do you still think you want to be a farmer?” Kent answered, without hesitation, “Of course. This is part of the price we pay for the satisfaction we receive the whole year around. It rarely gets this bad. We handled it. Actually, it was kind of fun, in a weird way. I enjoyed the challenge… especially doing it with you. Someday, I’ll do it with my own son.”
Karl had to look away, to hide the tear that had crept into the corner of his eye. He was so proud of his son. He just reached over and gave his son a big hug, and didn’t say a thing, as they continued to work together at their tasks.
Later, thinking back to those moments with his son, Karl realized that the response Kent had given, so spontaneously, was made up of phrases he had heard Karl say, at different times, as they had worked together building this farm. Another tear appeared, just thinking about that moment.
Cold followed the snow
Whilhite’s still had their 3rd anniversary
Wilhite’s Drug and Sundries postponed their 3rd anniversary celebration at the store a week, to the 17th of February, because of the weather. This actually just gave them an opportunity it advertise it an extra week, and participation by the community exceeded expectations. Each store was now celebrating the anniversary of their opening, so all their customers came to expect it. And each store was pressed to try to outdo each other, in at least some small way. With the storm and cold, Wilhite’s added a 5% discount on everything in the store that was ‘white’ to the already existing specials for the anniversary. Customers enjoyed discussing what items they considered to be in the ‘white’ category. Martin and his family were generous in their interpretations, because it meant more sales.
A week later, Karl King visited with Martin Wilhite about the anniversary celebration. Martin mentioned, among other things, that they had sold some ‘white’ items that had been sitting on their shelves since the day they had opened, three years earlier. He gave credit to his daughter, Cynthia, for coming up with the ‘white’ discount idea as they worried about weather affecting their celebration. While speaking of Cynthia, Karl mentioned that he had heard a rumor that she was “being courted” by school teacher, Leroy Ring.”
Martin replied that twenty-two-year-old Cynthia had been the center of attention of many of the young, single adults in town, as well as some of the not-so-young single men. It had actually been quite good for business, he allowed. However, Cynthia had essentially been very coy, and very patient, waiting for just the right man to come along. Martin added that Leroy Ring did seem to be in the running as “the right one.” She had continued to encourage his attention whereas that had not been the case with most of the others. Time would tell, he said. He was confident that Cynthia would know when the right one came along.
They were finally able to go to town
Earl Rhodes was being visited by out-of-towners
Because he had been a good friend to their oldest son, Keith, Karl and Katherine King always took an interest in Earl Rhodes, who had returned from secondary school in Jefferson City earlier to farm with his family in the west valley. They had even added some land recently, it was understood. In mid-February, they learned that a brother and sister from Jefferson City were staying at the Diamond Hotel with the express purpose of visiting with Earl and his family.
Katherine found an opportunity to talk to Sally (Rhodes) Campbell, Earl’s aunt, at the Dry Goods Store, to get some details. Sally said that Naomi Chastain, and her brother, Robert, were actually in town to spend some time with Earl and his family. Earl and Naomi had been very close friends while he was in school in Jefferson City. She was the daughter of a local merchant, but had ‘been promised’ to another. However, after Earl had returned to Oak Springs, he and Naomi had continued to exchange letters, quite regularly, it appeared. When the ‘promise’ was no longer in the equation, they wanted to try getting together again. Her brother agreed to accompany her on an extended visit, it seemed. Sally added that she was sure the brother was also checking out the town, the family and other things for his family, as well.
Then, a couple of days later, Earl, Naomi, and Robert actually stopped by the King farm for a brief visit. Karl and Katherine were pleased to see them and did their best to make each of them feel comfortable. Earl said he wanted Naomi and Robert to meet the parents of one of his best friends. Even without Keith being there, Karl and Katherine felt they left a good impression on the visitors. They each thanked Earl for taking the time in their busy schedule to visit them. They felt that Earl and Naomi would make a fine couple, if they decided to make that happen. Again, only time would tell. Stay tuned.
Note from the author
This is the forty-sixth episode of this short story series, and the sixth of what will be Volume Three. The stories are set in the Ozarks Mountains setting of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga historical fiction. This Episode is set in February of the calendar year 1882. The 20-Episode Series OSx, “Life in Oak Springs and more” fills in the gap of time between Episodes 40 and 41 in this series. These episodes move the story forward for the entire "Saga" series.
The earlier episodes of the King Family series have now been compiled into two eBooks, titled: "The Kings of Oak Springs,” Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (20 episodes each). 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.”