Dorothy Daniels wakes up, wondering where she is, what day it is. Did she dream about the Allied Arts anniversary? Did it already happen? Finding her invitation, and realizing it’s today, she sits at the dining room table, in her small apartment, drinking coffee, and remembering.
Words seem to be harder to come by. Dorothy will be thinking of something she wants to tell Amanda, or one of the girls, and then she forgets the words she needs. Is it like that for all old people?
“I don’t remember my mother having trouble with words. Papa sure didn’t. He worked at the drugstore to the day he died. Never missed any prescriptions. He did all of his talking at the store, though. Didn’t talk much at home. But Mama did. She went to the store a couple of times a week to stock the shelves and clean. She always came home telling stories about the people who came into the store. People she saw on the sidewalk. She would lean over the soda fountain and listen to everyone’s stories and then tell them to us when she got home.”
“I loved the stories I’d hear at the Allied Arts’ meetings. The girls always had something to talk about. We would come early just so we could spend time talking before the meetings were called to order by whoever was taking a turn being president that year. That’s how we did it, taking turns. Even the girls who were shy would get brave enough to be president every few years. Get up in front of all of us and call us to order. Say a prayer to get us started. Get through the business part. Then we’d have a guest speaker and someone would do a devotion. Lots of times Bobbie Tweed did a book review. She was so theatrical. Taking the parts of the different characters in the book she’d just read.
We would all be in stitches. Some of the other girls tried to do book reviews, but they just weren’t as good as Bobbie’s. I sure miss her. She would write wonderful notes to all of us, being just as genuine in her writing as if she was standing next to you. You could hear her voice telling you to be sure and let her know if you needed a ride to the next meeting. Or if you had an idea for a speaker, she wanted to hear about it. Bobbie was program chairman more than anyone, I think. Maybe Sadie Gladstone had her beat. That woman did everything in Allied Arts and worked at the Veteran’s Hospital. She’s gone, too.”
Dorothy continues to sit at the kitchen table, looking out the window, drinking her coffee, and remembering all the girls who were in Allied Arts over the fifty years. The words may be hard to remember, but the faces are all there. Especially the six original girls.
“Harriet, Connie, June, Vivian, Roberta, and me. We all lived close by and we were all in Sunday School together. Grew up together at First Baptist. Then Harriet’s parents moved out on Huntington Boulevard and Harriet went away to Stanford. The rest of us stayed in Fresno. Vivian and I went to Fresno State. I was going to be a druggist just like Papa, but then I met Ray in the bookkeeping class we were both taking. By the time he graduated, we wanted to get married so I quit school. Vivian, though, she finished and became a teacher. Even though she had married Delmar right out of high school, she was determined to get an education. Good thing, too, since all he ever wanted to do was have an ice cream parlor. You can’t make much money scooping out ice cream. Became especially hard in the fifties and sixties when all the grocery stores started having ice cream and everyone had their own freezer. Not many people went to the soda shop and Delmar finally had to close. Their kids were grown and gone by then. Vivian just kept teaching and Delmar puttered around their little house on Ferger. Did some remodeling. He always made the refreshments for Vivian when she was hostess for the Allied Arts meetings because he still liked making ice cream cakes. They were really good, too.”
“Harriet never planned to come back to Fresno. She was headed for the big city when her mother got sick and she came home to care for her. We all went over to see her, and even though it was a big house, we had to be quiet so not to upset her mother who stayed upstairs in bed but seemed to hear everything in that house. None of us brought our children because it would be too much noise for Mrs. Reynolds. She always was a delicate thing. One time when we went to visit, John Young had come to see Harriet. We didn’t know she had a beau at Stanford, and she introduced him as a classmate so we didn’t catch on then, either. He didn’t hang around in the parlor after we showed up. Went off somewhere with Mr. Reynolds. A few days later, Harriet called Vivian and asked her to come over to the house to be her maid of honor and that’s how we found out that she and John were getting married. It was right before school started so Vivian pulled out her nicest dress and went over for the small ceremony. Mrs. Reynolds had ordered all these flowers from Condits; Vivian said the house smelled like a funeral parlor, there were so many lilies and carnations. They were able to bring Mrs. Reynolds downstairs just for the ceremony. Harriet and John went off on a short honeymoon but had to get right back to take care of Mrs. Reynolds. She died around Christmas that year. Mr. Reynolds moved into an apartment downtown over his department store and let John and Harriet have the house. They never left. Harriet will probably die in that house. She loves it so much. We had some great Allied Arts meetings there at Christmas time when she would decorate the house and have lights all over the outside. Never got to know John much. He didn’t come to church very often with Harriet and he always hid out upstairs when we had Allied Arts there.”
Noticing that it’s after 8, Dorothy remembers she’s going to do something at that time.
“Why was 8 o’clock so important? Do I have to go somewhere today?”