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Uncle Andy by Eileen Scramuzzo

 In the early years of the twentieth century, every year in the month of July, the tall figure of a man with a huge umbrella became somewhat of an embarrassment to those closest to him. He was often the subject of conversation in the small mountain community of Chesterfield, Pennsylvania, a place that loved good natured gossip just like many other small town. Reports of his arrival for his annual visit often reached the town hours before he got there.

He came from the county home to visit his brother's family in the house where he too once lived. Bicycles followed behind him for miles before he hit the mountain pass that led there. Children shoved each other trying to get a better view of this yearly visitor who looked like an alien from a, a, another planet. Oblivious to the traffic jam he created, he would walk straight as an arrow, ignoring comments that anyone made. The gray stripped suit was too short in the sleeves and the pants revealed socks that fell around shoes that had no laces. He held his head high with an extremely outdated straw hat perched to one side to reveal a gray mass of curls. His long slender fingers choked his precious umbrella with a fierce grip and defied anyone to get too close to his most precious and his only possession. Piercing eyes of blue held your glance steadfast until you had to look away. It was hard to guess his age. He had traveled this same mountain road for an annual vacation for more years than his relatives cared to remember. The family a solemn group unhappily awaited the umbrella man because when he came he would demand a private bedroom, maid service and silence from the children. Yet, it had not always been this way.

Adam came to America with his older brother, John twenty five years before. In Wales, John answered an ad that advertised a mail order bride for a man who knew his way around coal mines. For John and his brother, it was a dream come true. A series of letters between John and an ambitious lady from Chesterfield clarified a marriage proposal and acceptance by both parties. The bride-to-be had a partially finished home given to her by the coal mine that desperately needed workers for their new mine called, "number twelve."

Anna Corlinshak signed papers that guaranteed two experienced mine workers. One would be her husband an the other her future brother in law. In return for a good work record, the house would be hers in a period of ten years. A lot of improvements would be needed but it was a start. Goose down comforters were hand made and pots and pans finished for Anna by the local blacksmith. A fireplace used for heating and cooking were all waiting for the two men who were due to arrive within the hour.

Originally Posted on Tuesday, July 02, 2002 - 04:15 PM (480 Reads)

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