We are getting very close to Christmas in our story, and the strangest thing has happened to me this past week that again, made me think of Christmas. Christmas 1962 to be exact. That Christmas I, like every other girl my age, asked for the doll that was all the rage... a talking doll... Chatty Cathy. I didn't get one, but a lot of my friends did, and every time I got to hold one, or play with one, I fell more in love with Cathy. I asked again the next year and the next, but she never arrived.
When I started to collect dolls, they had pretty much disappeared, then in later years they appeared but at a cost I could not justify.
I wrote a little story on a craft site I belong to, about this doll and one of my friends on there took my plight to heart. A few weeks ago, I received an email from her saying she had not only found a Chatty Cathy for me, but one was in the mail to me.
Last Friday was December 25th 1962 for me... after 48 yrs, Chatty Cathy finally arrived, and let me tell you I was as excited as I would have been 48 yrs ago. I am not ashamed to say I bawled my face off as I lifted her out of the box.
Can you imagine such an incredible act of kindness from an on-line friend? She has not only made a child's dream come true, she has also restored a woman's faith in human kindness....
Thank you Eva, words cannot express how you have touched my heart...
and now to our story.....
The congregation of the small community church held a clothing drive when it became known that the Bell children had been left with only the clothes on their backs following the fire. They gathered hand-me-downs and cast-offs of every description, size and condition and they donated it all to the worthy cause of caring for the orphaned children. The result of their efforts were several large boxes of clothing along with a separate box of used toys and books that were delivered to Karl’s home one cold afternoon.
The boxes of clothes contained enough pants, shirts, shoes, dresses, coats and underwear of all sizes to adequately clothe the abandoned children. Used toys such as handmade wooden trucks, spinning tops, puzzles, Chinese checkers and several knitted stuffed animals for the smaller children, accompanied several well-used picture and chapter books, and one grade three school reader. The generosity and kindness of neighbors she had yet to meet astounded Emilie, and she was filled with gratitude and pride to be among such warm and caring people.
Emilie resided over the contents of the boxes like a queen over her jewels. She fitted each child with several outfits of clothing and carefully set aside the rest to be used at a later date. Before the children could spy the toys and books that were in the bottom of the box, she tucked them safely away, out of sight. She would wrap these and place them under the tree so all the children would have something special to open come Christmas morning.
The new living arrangements had made it much easier for Emilie to cope with the added responsibilities of having to care for the Bell children. Sue was a wonderful help to her, especially with the younger children. Everyday Sue helped bathe and dress the younger children and then helped Emilie with the extra household chores. There were some days that Emilie knew she would not have had the time to complete many of her chores, if it had not been for Sue’s help.
George became Karl’s right-hand man and confidant. At fifteen, he was old enough and strong enough to help Karl with the heavy farm work that needed to be done, and he was amazingly mature in his approach to life. They spent many hours working together, and although there were many years separating their ages they soon began to confide in each other.
George told Karl how he worried about his family, and wondered if they would ever again be reunited with their father. As the eldest in the family, he felt responsible for his younger siblings, even though he could do nothing to help them on his own.
Karl admitted that at first he had balked at the idea of keeping George’s family, and then he admitted that it was really Emilie who was responsible for them being together now.
George told Karl that if he was just a little older, he’d marry Emilie and take her as far away from Karl’s farm as he could. Karl admitted that at times he wished that he was a different sort of man – a man who still believed in love and marriage - because if he were, Emilie would be just the kind of woman he’d choose to be his wife, and the mother of his children.