Food For Thought

July 1, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

My father was waiting at the station when I arrived home. Although he said little to the effect, I do believe he was proud of my accomplishment in Ohio. Mr. Rockefeller sent a telegram ahead of me explaining how everything had been worked out and of course that he had agreed to fund my education. It is interesting this time my mother was not present.

At home, I unpacked into my new room. It was hardly necessary to do right away but I felt if I just got it done I would feel more at home or at least less a stranger in my own room. When everything was away I pulled out the newspaper article which I had taken with Mrs. Rockefeller’s permission. The girl’s face was blurry in the picture but clear enough for me to recognize. I sat on my bed and read the article over again for what must have been the 100th time.

I napped from then until dinner time. Fortunately, it was dreamless sleep and for me that is the most restful kind. Mother woke me just minutes before dinner was ready and I found I had to hurry to get washed up in time. Typical Mother, always making me jump to stay out of trouble.
Amazingly, father was home for dinner even though he had taken time off in the day to greet me. I smiled warmly at him as I took my place and he was stilling beaming with pride.


“Did you have a good nap?” Mother asked with a hint of disapproval in her tone.

“Yes, I did. I could hardly sleep more than a wink on the train.”

“Obviously Mr. Rockefeller took to you, but tell me what did you think of him?” Father asked.

I chewed my mouthful of chicken carefully before replying. We do not often have discussions during dinner but on the rare occasion we do, manners are still expected.

“An extraordinary family all around. I was very impressed and not just by his success.” I replied.

“I thought you might be. Did you know Mrs. Rockefeller was a school teacher?” Father asked.

“She told me the afternoon we met, but even had she not I would have surmised as much.”

“I suppose all school teachers are more or less the same.” Mother offered.

“I did not mean it that way. She had an incredible breadth of knowledge. There cannot be many women in the world as studied as she.”

“You must think me ignorant.” Mother said.

“No, of course not. Just because you never had the opportunity to study does not make you less than those who have. Knowledge and intelligence are two separate quotients.” I replied diplomatically.

“You do realize I don’t understand most of what you just said.” Mother replied sounding frustrated.

“All I mean is that how smart a person is, is not equivalent to how much they have studied.”

Mother just shook her head at me. For a brief moment I felt she was jealous of me, of the opportunities before me in form of college. I had never notice before, but perhaps it is because whenever college was discussed before it was in terms of how it would avail me to the crème of prospective husbands.

“Have you decided on a focus for your studies?” Father asked.

“Not yet, I wish to spend some time researching my options. Mr. Rockefeller said I need not decide right away.”

“He is a patient man but you should not test his patience.” Father said.

“Yes, sir. I will make up my mind before the end of summer.” I offered.

Father nodded his acceptance and I breathed a small sigh of relief. Silence fell over us for a few minutes and we all took the opportunity to clear our plates.

“Have you heard about the labor strike in Colorado?” I asked as I laid my flatware on my empty plate.

Father looked startled by the question.

“I have. Why do you ask?”

“It was brought up at the Rockefeller’s. Specifically, there was a young woman involved.”

“Yes.”

“Have you heard anything about her?”

“Only what is in the papers. Should I have?”

“I do not know. It was mentioned to me that there was more to the story than what was written in the papers.”

Father chuckled.

“There always is.” He said.

“I just had the impression it was somehow important in this case.”

“There have been labor problems all over the country, including right here in New York. They are all important.”

“Of course, I did not mean to derogate the problems you face, father. It was just this girl, Sarah Waters. She is going to be attending Primrose College in the fall and there is something familiar about her to me.”

“The girl who was in the middle of that mess is going to your school?” Father asked.

“Yes, it appears so. Mr. Rockefeller said she had made a difference.”

“Stay away from her Elizabeth.” Father ordered.

“Why? Who is she?”

“Just stay away from her!” Father shouted.

“But-”

“Do as you father tells you and stop arguing.” Mother said.

“Yes, Ma’am, Sir.” I said.

Clearly the matter was not to be discussed further. I rose from the table and began clearing the dishes to the kitchen for cleaning. My mind was spinning with questions I could not ask and even if I could, they would not be answered. One thing was certain though, Sarah Waters means more to my Father than he was saying.

2 comments:

Paul said...

Ashley, I like the way this story is developing.
Warm hugs,
Paul.

Jen said...

I must agree with Paul here, I'm very impressed/interested in the direction things seem to be heading.

ps. I like the history background stuff and would love to see more of it, also it would be interesting to know how you are using the real historical data in terms of your story.

Keep up the good work!