Georgia on My Mind /9
Standing on the sidewalk looking up the staircase Maggie felt so small. It was as if they’d put Tara in the middle of a city block with other mansions alongside it.
She hadn’t seen many movies in her thirty-one years but she and her sister, Dottie, had managed to see Gone With The Wind together. They fantasized about having a home like Tara.
As she gazed toward the front door she wished Dottie was there with her, and then she began replaying their good-byes just three days before.
“We’re not going to cry.” Dottie informed her. “We’ll visit each other at least twice a year.”
“That won’t be the same and you know it.” Maggie said, choking on her tears.
“We can call each other once in a while.” Dottie said. She knew neither of them could afford long distance phone calls but in a pinch they would find a way.
“Well at least we’ll see y’all when you bring the children up.” Maggie said. “Maybe you’ll love it there and stay!”
They had decided it would be best for Maggie and Grady to get settled first then Dottie and Eugene could bring Elizabeth, Charles and James up to join them. It made the good-bye more bearable knowing she would see Dottie in two weeks.
As she stood frozen on the first step an elderly woman came to the top step. “Miz Justice? Please come in!” Mrs. Springer beckoned. “I’ve made lunch for everyone.”
Her first glimpse of this lady immediately shattered the image she had from Grady’s description. He told her how feeble Mrs. Springer was. How she needed their help and was willing to share her home with them for a fair barter. The woman smiling and waving her onward didn’t seem feeble at all.
As Maggie neared the front door Mrs. Springer gave her a warm embrace. “I’m so honored you agreed to come Miz Justice.” She whispered in Maggie’s ear with a pronounced southern accent.
Grady had explained the arrangement to Maggie, hoping she would feel the adventure in it and not dwell in what they were leaving behind.
He had reached a dead end in his pursuits for employment in Georgia. His agreement to relocate cars from the south to the north for a dealer in Ohio was drying up.
He quickly learned there was much more opportunity in the North and began looking for a place to move his family. Whenever he had to stay overnight in Toledo he would stay in Mrs. Springer’s rooming house.
The rooming house had been quite a palatial mansion in its heyday. The lady of the house had lost her husband years before and was now having trouble maintaining such a large property.
Mary Springer had grown up on a small plantation in North Carolina. She fell in love with a handsome young man who worked for the railroad. According to her father this suitor was beneath her, which made the romance so much more exciting.
She eloped with her young man and he whisked her away to Toledo, Ohio to begin their life together. He did quite well with the railroad and managed to buy her a home he felt she was worthy of. They were devoted to each other to the very end.
Having no children to fill the empty rooms she began taking in boarders who were down on their luck and needed a place to stay and a hot meal. She enjoyed the company and didn’t mind cooking, even though it wasn’t her strong suit.
Mrs. Springer knew when she met Grady he was the man to help her stay in business. He was so handy and very willing to fix broken pipes or doors that wouldn’t close. Whatever she was in need of he would try to repair whenever he was there.
Grady knew he couldn’t support his family if they stayed in Georgia. He had to move where the work was and Toledo was bustling. He also knew Mrs. Springer needed help that would be worthy of a trade.
“I would be honored to have your family here Grady.” She said when he suggested the idea.
“There are five of us Miz Springer and the children are in school now so it might be more noise than you’re used to.” He explained.
“Don’t be silly!” she said, “Do you have any idea how long it’s been since this old house had LIFE?!” She rose from her chair and swept her arm around the room. “Life is exactly what this place needs!”
He knew he could earn their keep and Maggie’s cooking would add to the deal. He wasn’t nearly as sure he could convince Maggie to move.
Now, here they stood on the threshold of their new life. It would be a challenge but somehow he knew it would work out.