Rated: E · Short Story · History · #1766333
A story of life, sparked by historic events. perhaps it would be sad if it were not true.
The streaks of bright red and gold flashed across the morning sky, their reflected brilliance off the building's mirrored sides doubled Joe's feeling that something wondrous was going on that day. "Will you look at that, it's lighting us up as if we were the main event at this shindig," he said to his cousin Johnny as they stood in front of the gear shaped crystalline Ford Pavilion, in the Windy City's second year of the 'World's Fair' of 1934.
Joe was there to set up the new cars, forty-one brand new Fords, Lincolns and Edsel's new Mercury prototypes. Sent down on a special train from Detroit, there was everything you could want to see, from the new 'Model 18' with its super V-8, the Deluxe Duce Coups, the four door 'Super Deluxe Victoria', there was the Lincoln KA V12 the best selling Luxury car and even the new personal truck line.
There were the special models, the dream cars, including Henry's favorite, his personal model 40 special speedster. Oddly, it was the only new Ford Henry liked since Edsel took over in 1925. Everyone was there, the whole Ford family down to the grandchildren.
The new set up was planned to unveiling of the year's new models, at this world event. It brought the board of directors, the plant managers, and the design people as well.
The building architect Walt Teague, was there, because Edsel Ford was insisting on adding his new Mercury prototypes in preparation of their 1936 debut. This meant moving walls, ramps, and changing doors, to make room for the new cars. The hectic atmosphere was truly chaotic, and Henry was being his usual unyielding self.
It had been two days since Joe Scherer had been home; he waited for the construction workers to finish changing the walls and doorways. He had grown tired of listening to the arguing between Edsel, Walt, and Henry. Everyone, Joe spoke to, acted as if they were in charge yet nobody could make up their minds for the plan to display the car he was responsible for.
At last, workers had finished painting and cleaning up; The floors now all polished, most of the big wigs had left for the evening. Joe and his crew had stayed with the cars insuring they stayed safe, covered, and unseen. They were about to start their rotations for supper when Henry Ford himself came over and asked, "Who is in charge here?" The crew sent him to Joe, who was the Chicago Ford Service Manager.
Henry handed Joe several loose pieces of paper, on which there were hand written notes and drawings. He said, "This is the layout, I would like the cars put in." Joe took the diagrams and looked them over while Henry Ford waited to see if there were any questions.
Joe, a young man by comparison, did not want to risk offending Henry, but neither did he want to seem weak. "Mr. Ford, I have been here for two days waiting to set-up these cars. These drawings are nothing like the plans I was shown a few hours ago. Do you want me to leave room for the new Mercury prototypes?"
Henry's expression turned dark as he said, "First I'll ask you to note whose name is on the from of each of those cars, on this building as well, and until somebody hands me their cash those are my cars. Edsel doesn't always see things the way I do, and I think his new high priced toys will look best in the back parking lot. Can you be done before morning?"
"Yes Sir, Mr. Ford."
"Oh and Joe, I don't want them moving the cars around in the morning; so I don't want the keys left here."
"Yes Sir, who do you want me to give them to?"
"You keep them until I tell you otherwise." Henry patted Joe on the back and handed him two long cigars. "until I say different these cars belong to you."
So that is why Joe was there. over the rest of the evening, He and his crew finished setting things up the way Henry wanted; every car was positioned perfectly, all polished, and buffed, ready to show off their new lines, their chrome and bright colors. Edsel had insisted there not be a single black vehicle. Joe and his cousin Johnny went out front; they were smoking the cigars received from Henry. As they stood there, basking in the bright-reflected sunlight, a cloud moved in off the lake, it changed the sun's path; redirecting its rays from the Ford building to the building next-door. The beams of bright light highlighted two young women in front of the Frigidaire Show, which was next to the Ford pavilion; they too appeared to be getting ready for the new day.
One of the exceptionally tall paneled doors seemed to be giving the women some trouble. Joe and Johnny, went over and gave them a hand by pushing the large rolling panels back into the storage pockets. One of the young women caught Joe's eye, and he asked her name.
"Violet Dittman, but my friends call me Vi," she said brushing the long blond curl from her face back into place in her perfectly set coif.
Joe asked, "You look familiar have we met before?"
"No, we have not been formally introduced, but I 've seen you around, I live at the end of Halstead Street in the red brick four story, it belongs to my mother."
"Oh my, it is a small world, we are almost neighbors, I live only a few doors down the street from you. Are you working for Frigidaire?"
"Yes, but just for the Fair, don't know what I will be doing when it closes."
Joe's face lit up as bright as the mirrored tiles of his employer's grand show place. He said, "Then, you can stay home and take care of our house."
"What . . . you need a housekeeper?"
"No, but I do need a wife."
Vi, sent a cunning smirk towards her coworker and said, "You must be crazy as a bed bug,"
"Well, crazy enough to pick you up after work and take you to dinner," Joe said giving his best smile.
Vi took in the measure of the young man before her, his dark green uniform was dirty and sorely sweat stained. "And what do you think would make me interested in riding some bus around town with you?"
Joe looked down to the ground, he worked for the largest auto manufacture in the world and didn't own a car of his own. why should he, he could take any car he wanted from the lot, and mark its use as a service test. it was expected, it was an accepted perk of the job. Joe raised his head, his great dimples pronounced his realization. "What if I picked you up in a brand new 1935 Ford?"
Rolling her eyes Vi said, "And where is someone the likes of you, going to get a car that doesn't even go on sale for another two month."
Joe said, "That's my problem, if I come in a new Ford will you go to dinner with me?"
Vi turned to her work mate, to hide the bright smirk that loomed across her face, she reached out adjusted her collar speaking you over her shoulder "Sure, if you arrive in a car brand new car, but only if it's not black, I don't care for big black car. They remind me of funeral hearses, its bad luck to ride in a hearse. If you are to dream how about cream colored." Vi snickered to herself, she knew there were no white cars parked on her block; she felt herself completely safe to accept this brash Dutchman's advances.
Joe and his cousin Johnny returned to the Ford pavilion, collected their belongings and left. On the trolley ride, back to Halstead Street Johnny asked, "Joe, I know she's not bad looking, and she turns a pretty shapely leg, but you know she dyes her hair. What are you making such a fuss about her for?"
"Johnny, you think I was kidding, but that's the girl I am going to marry,"
"But Joe . . . why, I don't understand?"
"Ha, Johnny that's because you don't see what I see; she is an angel. Didn't you see it, the sun fell out of the sky, it pointed directly at her and said, see what I have sent you."
"You know, she may be right, I think you have been up to long, or perhaps you really are going crazy."
That evening at 6:35 PM, a brand new creamy white 1935 Ford Deluxe Victoria pulled up in front of the Dittman home. At their door, a tall, dapper young man, with dark well-groomed hair, greeted Katy and Jack Dittman, he wore a white suit, and in his hand was a single yellow rose.
Violet heard the commotion outside and looked out her bedroom window to see the car and nearly the entire neighborhood gathering around the handsome young man that stepped from it. right in front of her house. She spoke to herself as she looked down at the crowd. "For the love of God, what do I do now, he did it, everyone one on the block will think I am a tease, if I stand him up now." At exactly 7:00 PM Joe was closing the passenger door of the new car. Vi watched him walk around the car to insure he wasn't looking while she adjusted the dress she had to hurriedly put on
One month and two weeks later, Jack stood at the altar, with his daughter on his arm. The 'I do's were soon over; the reception was in full swing, and Joe and Vi left for the honeymoon. Upon their return to Chicago, they take one of the apartments owned by Vi's mother.
Violet stays home to take care of the house and her mother who has become ill. Joe continues to work for Ford; he is the youngest service manager ever, at the largest company owned dealership in the country.
Joe's shop was just down the street from their home, so each day at noon he goes home for lunch. His routine is always the same; he picked up a yellow rose from the shop down the street and presented it to his wife as he greeted her with a kiss.
"Hello beautiful; how is my Angel. Do we have lunch today?"
"You know, you are crazy," said Vi as she held the flower to her nose.
He would look in her eyes and reply, "You just don't see what I see."
"Oh, sit down and eat you fool." She would say as she replaced yesterdays' flower in the vase over her sink.
Over the next two years, life moved in its usual cycle, until May 1936. Vi gave birth to their daughter Catherine. When they let Joe in to see his bride and new daughter, she was exhausted and sweaty, her hair clung to the sides of her face, her eyes were blood-shot and sunken, and she wore no makeup. It was obvious to all, but Joe, that Vi was worn from the nearly twenty hours of hard labor. He entered the room empty handed; they would not let him bring in his flowers. He leaned over and kissed his wife.
"Hello beautiful. How are my angels?"
Vi pushed her damp hair back and said, "Not only are you crazy, you are blind."
"Oh you just don't see what I see," came his steadfast reply.
Life continued each day, Joe came home greeted his wife and daughter. Vi, tended the house and the baby. She had a garden out back, laundry in the basement. The routines of life were repeated, and they shared time with friends and family. They went out to eat most Saturday nights. Sometimes a restaurant, sometimes it is the Moose lodge for dinner and a dance.
In July of 1938, Vi gave Joe a son. They named him George; after her Uncle on her mothers' side.
So they moved forward, year after year. There are all the usual events of school, church, birthdays, Christmas, vacations, and the like. There are the hardships too. Violets' father passed in 1946; the alcohol finally caught up with him. At the funeral, she puts on a good front for her mother, but said to Joe, "I don't know why he hated me so." Of course came Joe's answer, "Oh Vi he didn't hate you. A father never could hate his child; it is just the booze, it clouded his eyes. He couldn't see what I see."
During World War II, Vi worked part-time for Motorola soldering radio parts. Joe was put in charge of the testing and delivery of the Ford Jeep GPWs to the army. He was gone for weeks at a time to the plant in Detroit and only got home every other weekend. Nevertheless, every time he came home he brought flowers; greeted Vi the same, as always, "Hello beautiful, how is my Angel?"
The years start to collect. The kids have grown up, and gotten married, and have gone out on their own. Joe retires from Ford after thirty-five long years.
The winters have grown bitterer on older bones; Joe no longer wanted to deal with the snow, so they move down to Florida for the sun and some fun.
Through the years, they made their lives, Joe has a small workshop behind the house, and they enjoy a life of routine pleasures. Every October 6th; a truly special day for Joe, it is their anniversary; he would start early in the morning with his preparations. Then in late afternoon he would return home dressed in his white suit, with roses in hand. He would take Vi out to dinner, always picking her up in a brand new cream-colored Ford. Each year Vi would tell him the same thing, "You know you are crazy for doing this."
He always give his usual reply, "You just can't see what I see, but one day you will understand."
Forty-seven years and three months from their wedding day, on January 2nd, Joe was ill, he woke in the night unable to bear the pain in his shoulder. He had trouble breathing; Vi was frantic and called for help. As they wait, Vi pleaded with Joe not to leave her alone.
Joe told her not to worry, "Just look in the mirror and see, what I see, and it will be OK."
The ambulance came; they started for the hospital. Vi rode with, but on the way, Joe's heart stopped. The medics did their best; they gave shots and shocks. However, Joe just did not respond.
The service was crowded with friends and family from all over the country; the flowers were six rows deep and took three vans to move to the graveside. Vi cried and felt all alone, Kay and George tried to console her, but not even her grandchildren or her new great-grandson were enough to fill the void in her heart.
Her life now seemed without joy, her days were empty. The roses she planted between the house and his little shop smell foul and now made her sick. She went through the motions and each night she prayed from her bed, "Oh please Lord don't let me wake to spend another day alone."
October 6th, on what would have been their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Vi skipped her breakfast and worked in her yard to finish before it got to hot. Getting out her three-wheeled cycle, she rode to the store. She needed some groceries; Kay and the kids were coming that night.
Vi, peddled back home; the Florida days were still very warm. She was sweating and exhausted, she laid on the couch. Her breathing was labored; she worked to calm herself trying to regain her breath. She looked at Joe's picture hanging on the wall, she said to him, "OK, I've been waiting, won't you come get me tonight?" As she said this, there was a flash of pain in her chest, but it passed as quickly as it came. From her seat, she saw a strange glow in the full-length mirror on the wall in the hallway.
She got up from the sofa and went to look closer. As she approached the mirror, it showed a haze of fog. She stared at the mirror trying to see through its mist, a figure moved closer, her eyes opened wide with anticipation, she was hoping for a miracle.
But much to her surprise, it's was not her Joe. No, it was a young woman, with curly golden blond hair, and from her shoulders hung a beautiful white gown. Her features were perfect without a blemish of any kind, on her lips, his favorite red lipstick. She looked even closer seeing her deep blue eyes. A light shined from behind her causing the highlights in her hair to glow, projecting an aura, forming a distinct halo around her face. Then as if struck by lightning, the realization came, and she understood, She finally recognized the face staring back at her. The reflection in the mirror was her own. "Oh, Joe you crazy boy, is this what you saw?"
She cried out, "How ... can this be, it is not possible?" she reached out touching the mirror, as she did, she found herself transported to the other side. From the reverse of the mirror, she looked back into her living room, and there on the sofa laid the girl she had seen just the moment before. A perfect vision, she was an Angel, peacefully sleeping on her sofa, the sun beamed through the window setting her a glow with shafts of golden light. She touched the glass again, but she could not pass back through.
She began to panic, "Oh what have I done, how will I get the cake finished before Kay and the kids come?
A voice from behind her said, "I wouldn't worry about them," she turned to find a handsome young man. He stood there dressed in a dapper white suit and in his hand was a long stemmed yellow rose.
Holding it out he said, "Hello beautiful, how is my angel? Oh, and I think you are going to really love the new car."