Without Clarification All Would Have Been Overlooked…

"Susanne calling the kids, 1932" …At least that's what the back of the picture read.

I remember it much differently though… much differently indeed.

In the Summer of 1927 I met Mary-Catherine Packard at a garage I was employed in. Ms. Packard owned a '26 T-Model Ford that, for the best of polite explanations, had been driven into a number of ruts and damaged quite severely. The struts and rods were utterly shot as were the spokes of the two front wheels. I was assigned Ms. Packard's automobile and took to the repair promptly that morning.

Near ten o'clock, or so, Ms. Packard happened by and questioned me of my estimated time for completion. I explained that I would likely be wrapped up in another fifteen minutes…

"Oh fifteen minutes would be grand!" She said.

She stood over me as I jacked up the passenger side of the Ford and installed the last wheel.

"What's your name?" She asked.

"Oscar, uh, Oscar Talbot." Not wanting to blemish the introduction I stood up and slapped some dust from the thigh of my coveralls. Being a single man, any opportunity to share my name with a young lady would be tomfoolery to bypass informally. "…and yours?"

"Mary-Catherine Packard — But you may call me May-Cay, everyone does."

"Very nice to meet you May-Cay."

"Likewise, likewise. You married Oscar Talbot?"

"No ma'am–Guess I was never was in the right place and time."

"How old are you?"

"Almost thirty"

"Dog spots Oscar! …and you ain't never been married? Ever had a gal?"

"Oh sure, but not as of late… I uh, I work quite a bit you see and uh…"

"Listen, I got a sis, Suzie, she's swell! …twenty-eight, tall, nice hair n'everything… She just got home from staying with our Aunt up in Fair Oaks."

"I see"

"You wouldn't be interested in callin on her some time would'ja?"

"Well, I'm not sure I…"

"Tell ya what Oscar, here's the address" She took a notepad from her purse and wrote the house number down. She tore the slip of paper from the pad and folded it more than a few times before handing it to me. "Okay, my girlfriend is at the Lunch Can across the street, I'll have her drop me home and when you get done with the car why, you can just drive it to our house! I'll make sure Suzie's there!"

"May-Cay, I'll just be a couple more…"

"Okay then Oscar, see ya around what? Noon? We'll have lemonade 'er something for ya'll."

Mary-Catherine Packard turned sharply ad walked across the street before I could say no. She didn't even look back. I secured a shop towel from my back pocked and rubbed some lube grease from my knuckles. I'll just mention that I was genuinely frightened by what just happened! I was certainly not in the habit of meeting ladies on a regular basis… let alone a ladies I've never set eyes to.

Suzie, short for Suzanne I thought. Well okay.

I pulled the parking brake on the Ford and turned off the motor just outside the walkway up to the address.

I swallowed down hard in my throat as I saw the curtains fling here and there. I knew I was being studied and I wondered if they expected me to have gone home to change from my work clothes. Well, being my lunch break that was out of the question. "Just drop off the motorcar and be on your way" I said to myself as I came to the porch steps.

An older woman answered. "Who's calling please."

I pulled my cap from my head: "Uh, hello ma'am, I'm from Mr. Wallace's Motorcar Repair and this here's the key to…"

The older woman was all but shoved from the doorway by May-Cay Packard. "Hello Oscar! So glad you were able to find the address… not that there's many houses out this way! Uh, did the car come out okay?"

"Yes, uh, just fine ma'am and here's your k…"


Oh my. I could've died. I was a wreck of sorts having been placed in this situation… my own fault, my own doing.

"Oscar, this is my sister you were dieing to know so much about, Ms. Susanne Packard! Suzie, Mr. Oscar… what was it Oscar?"

My heart stopped beating.
My eyes widened into focus.
My forehead stated sweating.

"Uh, hello! It's'a Talbot, uh… Oscar Talbot… My name's Oscar Talbot."

"It's very nice to meet you Oscar."

"Yes. Same to you."

"You were very kind to drop the car all the way out here. May-Cay said you insisted."

"Ummm… it's no trouble really"

"How were you going to get back into town?"

Oh boy… I wrenched my cap in my hands and looked back towards the road the back to Susanne then down to my shoes. "I uh, well, that's a fine question Ms. Packard!" We both laughed a little sharing the arranged situation.

May-Cay reappeared in the doorway with two glasses of lemonade and a plate of sandwiches. She thrust them into Susanne's arms and pushed her out the doorway closing the door behind her. We both stood on the porch for a moment starting at the closed door. Then she turned to me and dipped her head and smiled.

I asked her if I could help and I took the glasses from her carefully, ashamed that she might notice the grease still under a few of my fingernails.

She sat down on a porch bench and I leaned on the railing. We talked about town and music and June Bugs and cherry pies and swimming ponds.

The picture reads: "Susanne calling the kids, 1932"
But I took the picture and remember no kids at all…
Only her dancing in an afternoon breeze in the fields by our home on our fifth wedding anniversary.

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