Ina was up early. As soon as it was light she went to the hen house to gather eggs. Then she carefully crated the fresh eggs and cream for town.
As she changed into her “go to town” dress, Ina admitted to herself that she was excited. However, she deemed it unladylike for a woman of 64 -- well, for any female of any age -- to show such emotion and squelched that elation. After applying just a touch of lipstick and powdering her nose, as she had been taught by her daughters, she affixed her hat firmly by weaving a long hat pin through the bun on top of her head. Lastly, she donned her gray cloth coat (not warm but presentable), then picked up her gloves, her pocketbook, and a small blanket to cover her knees as she traveled. She was ready. She sat down in the rocker by the window to wait for Tom.
Ina heard the engine of Tom’s old truck before she saw it. When it hove into view, Ina laughed in spite of herself. A wreath made of fir greens and trimmed with a bright red oilcloth ribbon decorated the grill. How festive it looked!
Tom helped her load the crate of eggs and cream she had packed to trade at the Orofino Mercantile. Ina was proud of the fact that she paid for their groceries by trading cream and eggs. Times were hard for many people and especially for farm folk, who were experiencing not only the effects of the Depression but also loss of market for their crops. Some people struggled to pay what they owed the store, so she was grateful they could keep up in this way.
Arriving at the Merc, Ina took care of her business first. She traded the eggs and cream for groceries and the items she needed for Christmas – nuts in the shell, hard candy, brown sugar, spices, molasses, and such as that. The clerk Lydia was always more than fair, Ina thought, and allowed her an extra half pound of hard Christmas candy.
The “Merc” wasn’t a big store when one considered the big stores of the city, but Ina could buy everything she needed at this one general store. She had plenty of time, so she wandered the aisles, looked over the Christmas decorations and the toys, and wished she could share this happy day with someone – someone like . . . Shirley. She experienced a pang of loneliness at the thought, but she straightened her back and pushed it out of her mind. She moved on to examine the leather-faced gloves and make a selection which would be her gift to Jack – that and a can of Climax.
When she had finished her shopping, the box boy helped Ina carry her groceries and Christmas supplies to Tom’s old truck. Tom came along shortly and they were on their way up the old grade to Gilbert. Ina had enjoyed the outing. It would give her something to think about. KW