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Paula Lantz and Marge Amey

Lantz R

Paula Lantz
Created using Marge Amey’s story (below) as inspiration

Lucky Me!
By Marge Amey

I watch him – the most powerful person in the world to me right at this moment.  It is this man’s job to determine who the winners of a girl’s bicycle and a boy’s bicycle will be this year.  It’s a warm July evening in 1951, I have come with my best friend, Mary to the annual Townline Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival. We are ten years old and this year we are allowed to roam the dusty midway without adult supervision. We feel so lucky and very grown-up.

We have ridden the thrilling carnival rides and played the midway games for several exciting hours.  Now it is nine o’clock, the sky is dark and the carnival lights sparkle colorfully adding to the excitement.  I watch the man intently. He begins to turn the handle that makes the big wire cage go around and around.  It contains the tickets with the magical numbers on them. As I watch him up there on the stage, I hold my breath. I cross the fingers on one hand and in my other sweaty little hand, I tightly hold the stub of my free ticket for the raffle.

This year’s girl’s bike is not just an ordinary bike. It is a blue Roadmaster with chrome fenders and white sidewall tires.  It has a basket, a push button horn in the center console, a battery operated headlight, and, wonder of wonders, fully operational brake lights! It’s so beautiful!  Oh, if I could have that bike I’d be so happy.  I know my folks can’t afford to buy me one that nice.  My older sister has a plain second-hand bike that my dad repainted for her.  It’s nice, but definitely not as magnificent as the bike I see before me up on the stage.  The boy’s bike is red and just as wonderful.

I warn myself that I probably won’t win.  I never do and no doubt I won’t this year either. But, must I go home disappointed again this year?  What if I do win?  Could I just possibly be so lucky? I wonder if my ticket will be within reach of the man when he reaches into the cage. There are so many tickets in it; how will he find mine?  My stomach begins to ache with anxious anticipation.  Finally the man opens the little door of the cage and picks out one ticket. Very dramatically and slowly, he begins to read the numbers on the ticket: 1—4—5—3—7.  My eyes are glued to the numbers on my now-damp little ticket stub.  I am stunned.  I think he just read my numbers! I think it’s a match! No. Can that be true?  Really?  I never win anything.  Can I really be the winner of this glorious bicycle?

I nudge Mary and breathlessly tell her I think I have the winning numbers.  She screams and pushes me towards the man on the platform.  He spots me and smiles broadly, holding out his hand so I can give him the stub.  Comparing the ticket and the stub, he calls out the numbers again and then “This is it!” he shouts loudly, “We have a winner!  Come up here, little lady.”

“Little lady?” Does he actually mean me?  I shakily climb up the wooden stairs and walk over to him.  I’m barely breathing, it seems.  I am so stunned.   He tells me to wait right where I am while he picks out the ticket for the boy’s bike.  My legs are trembling so much that I feel as if I may fall down at any moment.

He reads off the numbers for the next winner:  6—9—3—2—7.  A shout comes up from where I was just standing.  I don’t believe it!  This time the lucky winner is Mary’s cousin, Paulie Reimer, one of the boys in my neighborhood with whom I often play.  Wow!  Is he ever lucky!  Just like me!  He runs up on the stage and spontaneously, we hug each other and jump up and down.  My cheeks are beginning to ache from smiling so broadly.  The man tells Paulie and me to sit on our new bikes. Flashbulbs go off as the local reporter captures the spectacle for publication in the newspaper.  I think this is probably the happiest day of my life.

Mary’s dad loads my bike into the trunk of his car and drives me home.  I’m just bursting with happiness.  I can’t wait to show my folks what I have.  They will be just as thrilled and surprised as I am.

Like all children, for so long I’ve wanted a two-wheeler because it will put me officially into the realm of “the big kids.” I will now have the freedom that only a two wheeler can bring me. I can explore the village beyond my neighborhood. I can ride my bike to Grandma’s house and to school.

I vow that I will keep that bike looking like new.  Each Saturday, I’ll wash it; I’ll clean marks off of the white sidewall tires with Brillo pads and shine the chrome fenders with glass wax.

Our house has a crushed stone driveway and I’m sure my bike will no doubt skid and I’ll go down into the gravel cutting up my knees.  But, I’ll accept all the scrapes because it will mean I have a wonderful bike….brand new, not second hand, not repainted, but shiny and special and free…and now I am a big kid!

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Lantz I

Paula Lantz
Conversation

Acrylic, 20 x 40 inches
Inspiration piece provided to Marge Amey

The Conversation
By Marge Amey

I felt the need to get away.  I’d been spending too many long hours over the past ten weeks working to meet the deadline on my final project for the Washington Gas Company contract.  Now, I needed a break, if only for the weekend.  I phoned my fiancée to say that I was going to the beach and would be back late Sunday night. He seemed hurt that I didn’t want solace from him, but I explained that I just needed some “alone time.”

I packed a light bag with a couple of t-shirts and my favorite jeans.  As I passed through my living room, I grabbed a good book that had been waiting for me for a long time.  A couple of my favorite CD’s were tossed into my bag next.  Then firmly closing and locking my condo door, I went down to the parking garage and got into my car.

Luckily the weather was perfect, so I quickly put the convertible top down. Turning the radio to my favorite station, I headed out for Route 50 and the beach. I was already feeling better. Though the temperatures were still quite warm, it was well past “the season” so I was sure I could find a room in a hotel without making advance reservations.

Arriving in Rehoboth, I indeed was fortunate to find a room at the first hotel I checked.  I tossed my bag into the room and left for a long relaxing stroll on the beach.  I’d always found the rhythmic lapping of the waves very soothing. After about forty minutes, I turned around and walked back to the hotel, went to my room, crawled into bed and fell fast asleep.

I awoke surprisingly early Saturday morning already somewhat refreshed.  The morning sun was just beginning to rise.  I dressed and again went down to the beach where I strolled aimlessly, nearly the only one out there.  I was relishing the lack of pressure and deadlines.  I guess I meandered a mile or so watching the sea birds and the waves before turning around. Continuing on past the hotel, I headed downtown for an early morning cup of tea and a muffin. Before long, I approached Browseabout Books, one of my favorite places.

Entering the shop, I stopped inside the doorway just long enough to glance around. I loved this place. Bookstores are where I go when I need nourishment for my soul. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a couple sitting in the coffee shop area.  The guy had his back to me and I gasped as I realized that it was my fiancé.  I stood stock still, frozen, unable to move.  What was he doing here and who was the woman with him?  What were they laughing so joyously about? Obviously they were enjoying each other’s company.

What do I do?  Do I slink back out of the door, go back to my room and, and then what?  Could I be wrong?  Is it just some guy who closely resembles my fiancé?  Lots of guys own blue shirts like the one I think I recognize.  But, no. No one else has that same cowlick swirling at the base of his hairline that I love so much.  It has to be him.

But, what is this all about?  I hadn’t sensed any trouble in our relationship.  Though I’d been working long hours recently and been obsessed with the project, he’d said he understood.   We’d been together for over two years, had only just recently become engaged and had happily set the date for next spring. Both families seemed to be thrilled with our news.  I just could not come up with an explanation for a surreptitious liaison like this. And why would he have come here to Rehoboth anyway?  He knew this was where I’d said I was going.  He had to have known that we’d run into each other.  Oh, I was so confused.  Nothing was making any sense and I was still too worn out to be able to come up with an answer.

What to do?  Knowing myself as I do, I decided against any confrontation.  Finally shaking myself, I turned around, went up the street and down a little alleyway where I knew I could find another coffee shop. I ordered a large cup of English breakfast tea and a blueberry muffin.

The young man who served me smiled broadly and said, “Smile, you’re at the beach and it’s too early on a beautiful day for such a long face.”

Usually very reserved, I uncharacteristically blurted out, “Oh, I guess I just feel royally rejected.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.” He said. “I hope your day gets better.”

“I do too, “I replied and continued back to my room. I looked out the window as I ate, barely tasting the muffin, mulling over in my mind what had just happened. I finally decided to call my fiancé.  His cell phone rang and rang, but he didn’t answer.  I hung up without leaving a message, then flopped back down on my bed and, though very upset, fell asleep again almost immediately.

When I woke up, two hours had passed.  Still groggy, I wondered if the earlier events had just been a bad dream.  Maybe I’d been in such a deep sleep that I’d just imagined those things. I took my book, walked to the beach and sat on the sand dune to read.  I was so lucky; the weather really was gorgeous.  Lucky? How could I think that when my life could be in total turmoil?

I couldn’t relax. I decided to walk back downtown to see if I could find him again.  This time, I would have to face him and demand an explanation. Again, I entered Browseabout Books, but this time, except for two elderly men deep into an earnest political discussion, the coffee shop was empty.  Now what do I do?  I sat down and ordered a cup of tea.  I tried reading, but was too preoccupied to concentrate.  I got up and walked out of the shop.  Turning right, I began to walk slowly up the street.

As I passed the Silver Shell gift shop, a couple hurriedly came out of the door laughing together and bumped into me, nearly knocking me down.  It was them!  I just stood there and stared.  I didn’t know what to say.  But he just started grinning and grabbing my hand, he said, “Oh, I’m so glad we found you.  I have been looking for you all morning.  I didn’t know where you were staying, but I was sure you’d be in Browseabout this morning for your tea.  You always go there.  We sat there for nearly two hours waiting for you to show up.  I want you to meet my cousin, Maggie.  She came in late last night from London and has to leave again this evening.  I insisted that she meet you, so we came to the beach to find you.  This is just so terrific.  Let’s go to The Fish for lunch so you two can get acquainted.”

Once I recovered my composure, it turned out to be a delightful lunch.  Maggie, it seems, works on secret exercises for the State Department and when she’s off on one of her assignments, no one in her family knows where she is or how long she’ll be gone.  She had been away for nearly four years this time.  He explained how sorry he was that he hadn’t been able to talk about her to me since, besides being his cousin, she had been one of his best friends when they were children and lived next door to each other.  Now that she was back, he could ask – no insist – that she be one of the attendants in our wedding.  His affection and enthusiasm was infectious and I decided that no other explanation was necessary.

We had a great afternoon walking the beach, then he and his cousin returned to Washington, leaving me to have my “alone time.”  Now I could actually rest and relax.  I smiled as I looked forward to our spring wedding which will now include the lovely Maggie.

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