Another Day in the Country
Company’s coming to the country
© Another Day in the Country
When I as a kid, guests in our home were called “company.”
It was a much-anticipated event for company to arrive. Everything had to be super neat and clean. Mom cooked special food. For sure, we had dessert. We were on our best behavior for these much-anticipated people to arrive.
Some company was harder than others to entertain. When company was either one of my grandparents, which didn’t happen often, there were special instructions to “behave yourself,” and special foods that normally weren’t on the menu — like fried chicken.
On Friday, I got a message that company was coming. A friend from California was surprisingly going to be in our area — whatever that meant — and was going to come and spend a night at what we jokingly call The Prairie Schooner Cruise Line.
“I knew you girls had moved to Kansas a long time ago,” Pete said, “and I think I’m coming close because I’m stopping briefly to see a friend in Lawrence.”
“That’s close!” we told him. “Where are you now?”
“Independence, Missouri,” came the answer. “My GPS says that I can be at your place in two hours.”
“I don’t think it will happen quite so quickly,” we texted back, “but let us know when you turn off I-70 and we’ll give you instructions on getting to Ramona.
We really do love having company. It’s fun to look forward to and Pete was one of those delightful acquaintances who touched our pre-country lives in all kinds of ways.
He’d gone to school at the college where I worked in California. He’d sung with the same gospel group that Jess had toured with. Their time in the group only overlapped by a few months, but they’d shared the unique experience of being “on the road again.”
We had mutual friends and sometimes attended the same reunions; but while I’d talked to Pete on the phone, I hadn’t seen him for over 30 years.
A lot of life changes in 30, 40, or 50 years! It is such a gift when you can last see a friend graduating from college, not lay eyes on them until they are in retirement and gray-haired, and it seems like no time has elapsed at all!
He told us stories of his life and about his children that live across the country from New York to California. In college, he’d taken a religion major, went on to become a pastor, toured with a gospel group, and then became a magician — made his living doing magic for 30 years. It was a fascinating story, an adventurous life!
“Tell me about Ramona and why you came back here,” he said as we sat at the supper table.
We told him stories.
“Let’s take a walk around town,” he coaxed the next morning at breakfast. “I want to see all these spots you’ve told me about.”
So, early Saturday morning while the streets of Ramona were still quiet, we started walking down the main street. First, we went through the Ramona House, showing him family heirlooms like Great-grandma Schubert’s cupboard where she kept her soap supply as well as the birthday cakes she made for her grandchildren, that subsequently always tasted like soap. We told him about Aunt Erna and Uncle Dick who left their legacy to their nieces and nephews and how this added up-to-date electricity and plumbing to the Ramona House.
In the backyard, we took him to see the new baby chicks that are growing fast. Across the alley he toured Eric’s place where Jess lives and we told him about how Eric’s laundry used to hang on the clothesline stretched between the garage and the cedar trees, every week: two pair of overalls, two shirts, four socks and two red handkerchiefs. We showed him Tony’s house, the old barbershop building, the place our friends from California bought and refurbished that we call “The Ritz,” Jake’s Place that now sports a new paint job designed by the new owners, Aunt Naomi’s old house, and the city park where we’d planted trees. We told him stories of the people who lived here, the tea party’s we’d hosted, 4th of July parades, Tooltime Tim, our triumphs and failures as we tried to keep Ramona alive. Then we waved Pete on down the road toward Denver and his next adventure on his way home to California.
“That was so much fun,” Jess said, when it was just the two of us again. For those hours that we were sharing stories of life in Ramona, the loved ones — who are long gone — came alive again as their names were mentioned. Once again, they were right here with us, making sure we told their story accurately, laughing along with the funny parts, cheering us on, just spending another day with us, here in the country.