The Courtship of Levi Moore

by Nicholas Hall

Chapter 6

"Gonna pack up all my care and woe,
Here I go singin' low,
Bye, bye blackbird.
Where somebody waits for me.
Sugar is sweet, so is he.
Bye, bye blackbird."

(Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon from the song 'Bye, Bye Blackbird)

"Jerk!" grumbled Elgee.

"Pinche culero (fuck'en asshole)," Rick snorted in Spanish.

I couldn't disagree with them, but Alan was history and I'd moved on with my life.

"You know something, guys?" I asked with a yawn, "I'm not as young as I used to be and am tired. We can continue this another time, if you ever want to. We'll go for a boat ride tomorrow and give you a good look at the lake, okay?"

I bid them goodnight and retired.

The sun was barely making its appearance over the trees behind the house when I woke. Sleep came quickly the night before and I slept better than I had in a long time. Perhaps my rest was just tiredness from a long and stressful day or, again perhaps, my sleep was prompted and encouraged by having "family" in the house, in the form of my great-nephew and his intended, to fuss over and worry about. Since David's death, I really hadn't had the opportunity to do that, except for Matt and Jacob. God, I loved David so and would do anything to please him. He was easily pleased, asking very little of me, preferring to do for me rather than me do for him. But he was gone and I was still here; now with a purpose again in my life.

"What do you think, David?" I asked looking at his picture on my nightstand. "Pretty good kid isn't he? I think it'll work out," nodding to myself and to David's picture.

I often had a little chat with my husband about things before we retired and after we woke in the morning, and continue it to this day, even though he's no longer with me. I like to think he can still hear me; it comforts me. David still keeps me focused and centered as he always did.

I started my coffee, thought about a shower, and decided, instead, to take a dip in the lake, something I'd not done early in the morning in many years. Oh, I swam in the lake on a regular basis, but a dip in the morning, during summer's nice weather was something David and I did, enjoying the water and each other's company. It was a time for the two of us. Now, I decided I wanted to do it again.

Walking to the dock in just my undershorts, upon reaching it, dropped my shorts to my ankles, scratched my balls (doesn't every male tend to do that?), and lowered myself from the dock to the cool lake water. It took my breath away momentarily. It was a bit colder than I thought it might be, but I should've known from the reactions of the boys the day before. It made no difference, it felt good! I dove under the water, popped up looking out across the lake, standing about waist deep in the water.

It was early in the morning so swimming nude would be no problem. Summer people tended to sleep late and party late, so the chances of anyone being on the lake was slim unless it was a local out fishing. They could care less who else swam naked. My guess the boys, after the long journey and swim in the lake, would be late sleepers this morning as well.

"Good morning, Uncle Levi," came a familiar voice from behind me.

I forgot about the paper route Carl had requiring him to get up early every day.

"Thought you said, no swimming alone," Ray chimed in.

I turned and saw the two of them standing in their boxer briefs on the dock, smiling, eyes twinkling. They saw my shorts on the dock and knew damn well I was buck naked.

I nodded, "But now I'm not!"

"You're right there, Uncle Levi," Carl responded, slipping his underwear down to his ankles and off.

"Yep!" chuckled Ray, adding his underwear to mine and Carl's.

Standing before me, hands on their hips, the dawning sun lighting their smooth brown skin, enhancing their bright smiles, deepening the coloration of their black hair, and reflecting from the lakeside into sparkling, obsidian colored eyes, were two extremely good-looking, very naked, young lads, one clearly well into puberty, evidenced by the nice, but moderate growth of black pubic hair at the base of his uncircumcised, probably four to five inch soft cock and moderate sized balls in their smooth sack descended well from the crotch, and the other just entering puberty; a few black hairs at the base of his uncircumcised three or so inch cock with balls just beginning to descend in an equally smooth scrotum.

They were beautiful examples of creation! If one were into young boys, they'd be delightful, providing hours of masturbatory fantasy, or if the man were daring and the boy willing, a wonder to encounter for a sensuous tasting or bedding and breeding. I was not of that predilection and, although they were delightful to behold, didn't cause me to change my preferences.

A giggle and a goose to his older brother's butt brought a shout, "Stop that!" and Carl jumped into the lake. Ray followed and the two of them paddled around before stopping alongside me.

"Your brother and Elgee still asleep?"

"Nah," Carl volunteered, "they're awake."

"Yeah," giggled Ray, "Elgee's getting his butter churned good and proper!"

"Where'd you learn that?"

"Read it on the Internet somewhere," Ray responded, somewhat hesitant and embarrassed by my question.

"Don't your folks object to you reading that stuff?"

"Nope; I take my phone to the public library where they have free Wi Fi."

"And he looks at pictures too," Carl volunteered.

"I do not," Ray snorted. "I watch videos; more action," and waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

I didn't laugh or scold. I had to admit, I enjoyed some of the stories and videos as well. They did give me certain inspirations, so I just nodded my understanding.

We stood for a moment until Ray suddenly shrieked, "Something bit my cock!" and jumped up, wrapping his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck. Sheer terror was expressed on his face, convinced there was something in the lake going to devour his developing manhood. He felt my body begin to quiver as I tried to stop my laughter. Carl also had worked his way closer to me in the meantime.

"What's so funny, Uncle Levi? Something tried to eat my cock and that's not funny! It's the only one I got."

Ray was indignant to think I should laugh at his plight!

"So, what was it- the critter who took such an interest in my cock?"

"Probably a small sunfish or perch searching for a meal, nibbling on your foreskin. No danger you'd lose your manhood."

"Why would it want to do that?"

"Probably some leftovers from previous activities attracted them."

"Oh!" Ray mumbled softly as he released his grip on me and slowly slid down my side, his soft cock and balls slithering against my nakedness as he did so. He stood waist deep in the water and I heard him grumble almost inaudibly to himself to do a "better job of cleaning up next time."

I announced I was going to the house to get dressed and fix breakfast. Stepping from the water, I picked up my underwear and, instead of putting them on, carried them in my hand and started walking toward the house. I heard the boys hustling to catch up with me until one walked at my left side and one at the right side, both just as naked as I was. If anyone traveling on the lake should happen to look, he or she would see one very naked, happy, wrinkled old man and two young smooth, lithe, copper-brown colored, happy, and equally naked young boys, with the youngest one holding my hand, cocks and balls wobbling or bouncing, walking toward the house. Life is good for us to be so secure and carefree!

Ray and Carl scampered up the stairs to their room and I headed for mine. By the time I was dressed, they were dressed in shorts, tee-shirts, and tennis shoes and waiting for me in the kitchen.

"How about burritos for breakfast?" Ray asked. "Carl spotted some flour tortillas in the refrigerator. Enough for all of us he thinks."

Somewhat taken aback by their forthrightness since I was planning on fixing the meal but hadn't really decided what to have, I sort of nodded and answered, "Fine."

Moving forward toward the counter readying to prepare the meal, I was shortstopped by Carl who, handing me a cup of coffee and the half and half, said, "I saw the cream in the refrigerator and figured you like it in your coffee. Sit back and relax, we can handle this."

Curious, I sat down at the small breakfast bar separating the kitchen dining area and the actual kitchen, took a sip of coffee, and watched.

"Found some link sausage in the freezer," Ray announced from the pantry off of the kitchen.

"Put it in the microwave to defrost it," Carl instructed, "while I find a skillet to brown it in. See if you can find a small onion while you're in there."

Carl took the largest iron skillet I had from under the counter, put it on the stove, poured a small amount of vegetable oil in it, and lit the burner. A look in the fridge brought forth a small green pepper and some hot sauce. While the skillet was heating, he chopped up the small onion Ray produced, did the same to the green pepper, and put them in the heating skillet. The sausage thawed, he cut it up into smaller pieces and added it to the mixture in the skillet to brown with the rest. He stirred it to keep things from sticking while Ray busied himself with opening a small can of mushrooms and drained them.

"How about some frozen mixed vegetables?" Ray asked Carl.

"Yeah, about a half a package. See any shredded cheese in the freezer?"

"Yep; how much?"

"Not much, just enough to sprinkle on the burrito filling."

Rick and Elgee walked in about that time, dressed in similar fashion as Ray and Carl.

"What's up?" Rick asked.

I looked at him, noticing the long, rather thick protuberance snaking down the inside of his right leg, obviously a very respectable and good-sized example of a man's penis, looked at Elgee sympathetically, and back again at Rick, and muttered to myself, "at least that's not up now."

"Burritos for breakfast," answered Ray bringing a tomato out to Carl so it could be added to the mixture at the right time. "See if you can find a dozen eggs or so."

Rick found them in the refrigerator (I actually had three dozen in there). I'd laid in a supply of groceries the day before they arrived anticipating four hungry boys would eat a bunch and now was thankful I did. Rick set them on the counter, filled a cup with coffee, brought it over to Elgee, poured some cream in it, and gave Elgee a kiss, before returning the counter and hunting up a bowl to crack the eggs in.

I watched Elgee as he watched breakfast being prepared, never really taking his eyes off of Rick while he worked. Rick would look up, see Elgee, smile and wink, and go back to work. Elgee caught me looking at him, blushed, sort of shrugged his shoulders, and smiled, looking at Rick.

"Isn't he just wonderful, Uncle Levi? He knows I like my coffee in the morning and when we're together always takes care of me first. I could ask him for the moon and he'd try to get it for me. Of course, I never would; just having him is plenty."

I knew how he felt, David treated me the same way; as if I was the only person in the world, and most precious to him. He seemed to know where I was and I knew where he was. Neither of us felt alone, even when apart, since we knew the other one was thinking of the other. I swallowed back a bit of emotion, wiped my eyes quickly, and asked, "Does this happen often, Elgee?"

"Yeah; whenever the whole family is home. Momma De La Fuente sits on a stool in the kitchen and directs the operation. She insists all of her children, especially the boys, learn to cook and take of the house. Works for them and it works for Rick and me, except he insists on waiting on me."

Again, I thought of the similarities between the relationship David and I had and saw the same developing between Elgee and Rick. How fortunate for them and it was for me. Not only had I had a wonderful life with David, now I get to see a similar relationship from the outside and support this new couple in their life together.

"Scramble the eggs, please, Rick," Carl announced. "It won't be long until we're ready to add them."

Rick busied himself with cracking eggs and whipping them to scramble them while Ray took tortillas from the package and began warming them in the microwave. As they warmed, he put them between layers of a bath towel he'd retrieved from the downstairs bathroom, so they'd stay warm. Carl was folding eggs into the skillet, mixing them with the brown sausage and cooked vegetables.

Plates, glasses, milk, orange juice, and flatware appeared on the breakfast counter, thanks to Rick. Ray put out the "Texas Pete" and the shredded cheese, along with ketchup, "in case anyone besides me wants it," and Carl announced, "Time to eat – self serve!"

I noticed Rick fixed one plate, while I fixed mine, with four burritos on it, carried it over to Elgee, filled their juice glasses, replenished their coffee, and sat down next to him so they could share the plate and each other's company. Little was said while they ate, just a few words, and lots of smiles. Little needed to be said between lovers, small gestures spoke volumes of their love for each other.

I know it's a little thing, but Rick noticed a spot of tomato juice or ketchup on Elgee's face and used his napkin to clean it off. A small, loving gesture, appreciated by Elgee and rewarded with a kiss on Rick's cheek.

I ate two of the best breakfast burritos I've ever had!

"They cooked," Elgee announced as we finished up, "we clean up, Uncle Levi," as he began picking up dishes, glasses, and flatware and putting them in the dishwasher. I put juice, milk, and condiments back in the refrigerator, and scrubbed up the iron skillet. I put it on the stove to dry intending to put it away later.

Collecting the small strapped bag with a first aid kit in it, insect repellent, and sunscreen I usually carried with me while on the boat or tramping about in the woods, I picked up a small cooler from the pantry for water and soda. Elgee saw me, walked up, and asked if he could help. He got one of the gallon milk jugs, I filled almost full of water and let freeze, from the freezer I used to keep things cold, put it in the ice chest, and then helped me put in soda and water.

"Now what?"

"We take it to boat house, put it in the boat, get out the life jackets, check to make certain the gas tank on the boat is full, give the others a shout, and go for a boat ride."

I could hear Rick and his brothers coming from the house, Ray asking questions and Carl trying to answer them the best he could. I had to assume Rick was with them, but he was being fairly quiet.

Questions concerning the barn, the chicken coop, and the hog pen weren't a great task for Carl, since he'd listened carefully as I gave them the tour when they arrived. However, he was stumped by the small, screened in building near the boat house. I'd failed to mention what it was.

"Carl, what's the little building with all of the screens?"

"Bet it's an outhouse."

"Don't know."

I heard the screen door slam.

"Hey, Carl?"


"It's not an outhouse. There's a sink to wash your hands and a metal pump for water, but no place to sit and shit."

"Maybe you just shit your pants, shake them outside to get rid of the poop, and use the pump and sink to wash your ass, your hands, and underwear," offered Rick, deciding it was time to enter the conversation.

"HAR, HAR, very funny, Mr. Stand-up Comic," snorted Ray, as I heard the fish cleaning house door slam.

Rick walked into the boat house, followed closely by Carl, and finally Ray running to catch up. Rick just shook his head in disbelief or disgust, I'm not certain, at his youngest brother. A quick smile at Elgee, with one returned, while Rick helped him put on his life jacket.

"Hey, Uncle Levi," Ray began, before I interrupted him answering his unasked question.

"It's the fish cleaning house, Ray. It's screened so the mosquitos don't drain you while you clean fish. The pump supplies the water to wash the fish when cleaned and to clean up the mess."

"Thanks," he responded to me before haughtily chastising his brothers, "See, it's not an outdoor shitter."

The speed boat loaded, everyone with life jackets on, and we were off. I figured two and a half to three hours to tour the lake and end up at Spooner's for lunch. Since it was well after nine now, we wouldn't be able to spend much time anywhere. I cruised up the to the north end of Big Spirit, pointing out the boat landing and a resort, before turning around, opening up the throttle, and heading back toward our house, where I slowed somewhat, and began describing what was on the shore and various parts of the lake. Ray, sitting next me, thought it was great when we seemed to skim the water at high speed. I thought then he was one who would really enjoy the lake and I was right.

Our lake, although good sized, is not the largest, and is fairly developed, but not like some of the more popular ones where it seems there's a cottage every five hundred feet. The "cottages" or summer homes, on our lake are on very large lots. There are several, house and lot combined, valued at over a million dollars, while the majority would be in the one hundred thousand to quarter of a million dollar range, give or take five or ten thousand. Given that, there are still expanses of undeveloped frontage, ripe for development some thought, but held by old-timers like myself who have no desire to sell. A great deal of it would be marginal for prime development because of various reasons.

"What do these people do for a living," Elgee asked, "in order to afford these big houses and only use them part-time?" responding to my comments most of the cottages would be shut up by October and most used only weekends during the summer.

"At those prices, Uncle Levi, you could subdivide the farm and make a gazillion dollars."

"Don't need it, Elgee; got plenty."

Over the years more than one real estate agent approached us concerning selling and we refused. David and I wanted to keep the farm intact. We enjoyed the privacy it offered, the space to roam, and the freedom to live as we wished on it. We wanted future generations of Coleman's, nephews and nieces on David's side, to enjoy it as we had. Perhaps now, one or more of my side of the family could enjoy it as well.

At the south end of the lake, I slowed the motor as we entered the "no wake" zone under the county highway bridge to the "South Arm," as locals called it, so we could be access it. Technically part of Big Spirit, this body of water was smaller and shallower, with very little development, limited by county and state forest land on the west shore. The east shore had several smaller cottages and some extensive stretches of undeveloped, lower, almost swampy land. The shore line, on the east side as well as the west, held vast weed and lily pad beds, providing great cover for the large populations of Panfish to hide from the larger predator fish such as Northern Pike. I cruised slowly into the lake, pointed out to the boys, ahead and in the middle, several reed beds growing on higher underwater structure, such as reefs or sunken islands.

I happened to mention the South Arm produces some rather large catches of sizable Bluegills, Sunfish, and Crappies, as well as nice, not huge, Northern Pike. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ray look at Carl and raise his eyebrows. Carl shrugged his shoulders.

We were running out of time, so I turned us around, navigated under the bridge, opened up the motor, and headed toward "Spooner's." I tied up at their dock, told the boys to leave their life jackets in the boat, and walked up the stairs to the bar.

Of course, everyone in there, and there was a sizable crowd, turned to stare at us when we walked in; the locals a little longer than the weekenders.

Tom, "Spooner," was tending bar greeting me with, "Hi, Doc; see you got company."

Indeed I did and enjoyed introducing them to him, proudly telling him my nephew and his "intended," and brothers were visiting for a week or so. I knew the way I introduced them would be relayed to his partner, Mike Harris, working in the kitchen.

We ordered burgers, one dollar if you ordered drinks and fries, so we ordered nine burgers, fries, and four cokes and one beer, telling Tom we'd take them on the deck. The weather was nice, the view was great, and it afforded some privacy. When the burgers were ready, Mike helped Tom, instead of one of their wait staff, bring them to our table. It gave him the opportunity to introduce himself as Tom's partner and confess they've been married since shortly after it became legal in Minnesota.

"We don't advertise it, yet we don't deny it. We love each other," Mike said, "and don't mind saying so, but there are some of our customers and some others in the neighborhood who don't quite see it the way we do, if you know what we mean."

The boys knew very well what he meant.

Hearing of Elgee and Rick's plans to marry right after they graduated from high school, Mike and Tom congratulated them and promised after they were married and came "home," the first meal at "Spooner's" was on the house. The boys seemed pleased knowing there was another gay married couple in their circle of acquaintances.

We took our time eating our burgers and fries before motoring across the lake to home. The boys were all a chatter about how great the burgers were, how nice Tom and Mike were, and checking to make certain we could go over there again.

Swimming was on the agenda, as far as the boys were concerned, for the afternoon. Once we docked, put the life jackets away, and secured the boat, all four of them headed toward the house to change into swimwear. Anticipating Ray and Carl would want to go fishing, contemplating the look they gave each other while we were in South Arm, I retrieved four fishing poles from the locker I kept them in, rigged two with slip bobbers and tube jigs for panfish and two with wire leaders for Northern Pike and spinner baits (plastic bodies). My reasoning was simple; we'd go to South Arm for Bluegills and, if biting, Ray and Carl could catch a bunch of fish, have fun doing it, and be satisfied with trolling for Northern Pike on the way home. Trolling can be really boring sometimes, especially if you're not getting any strikes.

I could hear the four of them laughing and shouting, water splashing, and general boy talk coming from the dock and beach. My tasks complete, I stepped out of the boathouse and looked toward the dock. The boys were having a great time; the four of them bare-ass naked! I was willing to bet Ray and Carl teased Rick and Elgee to give it a try until they did or just set the example, dropped their swim suits, and jumped in, daring the others to follow.

Seeing Ray and Carl nude wasn't a surprise since our morning swim. They'd seen me naked then as well and made no comments, other than to join me. Skinny dipping does give one a satisfied feeling of freedom and recklessness. I'd not seen my nephew or his boyfriend sans clothing however. Elgee was built very much like me at that age. His body was slim, hipless, small waist, and not overly muscular. His cock was circumcised, as was I, and seemed to be about my size only just a tad larger. Rick, on the other hand, was just slightly taller, not much, than Elgee, same trim, svelte build, a little more toned in the muscle department, but narrow waist, hipless as well, and a very substantial, uncircumcised long, thick cock with a nice foreskin, hanging over a set of smooth, well-sized balls, swinging in a loose, smooth sac. The sight was enough to give a dead man a hard-on. My nephew made a great choice. Rick was good looking and hung well and deeply in love with him. I did wonder how Elgee was able to accommodate the man-piece when it was erect and shoved in deep.

"Why not?" I muttered softly to myself. "David was more than adequately equipped as well." Taking a closer look at Rick, I decided David was longer and thicker, especially when hard and engorged. There were times I thought he was inexhaustible when he got it into his head to fuck. Of course, I didn't discourage it any. He often said I brought out the best in him. I really think he should have said "lust" instead of "best" since the sight of him, the closeness of him, or just being around David brought out the lust in me. I have to admit, having him inside me, full, feeling like he was embedded clear to my bellybutton, spurting, flooding me, was something I truly loved!

Sighing, I walked back to the house, consulted my watch, noting it was after three in the afternoon, and reasoned it was close enough to five and cocktail hour. I was sitting on the porch, finishing my drink when the four of them walked up the sidewalk to the porch, their junk on full display, unabashed being naked in front of me. Hell, if truth be said, I didn't think Rick and Elgee would be a bit bashful about engaging in a little "dipping the wick" while I was present. I was convinced of it, when, from the corner of my eye, I caught Rick rubbing a hand (finger actually), up and down Elgee's butt crack. It caused Elgee to slide a hand over and give Rick's growing cock a small tug.

They hustled upstairs to dress and I refreshed my drink. Ray and Carl were down to the porch first, after making a pit stop to grab sodas from the refrigerator, and joined me on the porch. Tipping my head slightly toward the house and raising my eyebrows, brought a nod from Carl and a gesture from Ray. He formed a circle with his left thumb and forefinger and started pumping the forefinger on his right hand through it. No doubt what was going on upstairs now between Rick and Elgee. I nodded my understanding and took another sip of my Brandy.

After a couple of minutes, I asked if the two of them would want to go fishing in the morning. Absolutely, positively, all excited as hell! I explained we'd be leaving early in the morning and to dress in long pants, tee-shirt, and light jacket since it could be cool and would help to keep the bugs off of them once we started fishing in South Arm.

Dinner consisted of three large, deep dish, meat and cheese pizzas. I had two slices. Teen boys are really, really good eaters. The boys opted for an evening of television, darts, and pool in the down stairs family room.

The sun was still casting a faint glow on the western horizon as it slowly sank behind the trees as I enjoyed my evening glass of red wine. I thought the busy day's activities might be taking its toll on my guests since the noise from down in the family room seemed to subside and a quietness settled over the house.

The air in the deepening dark was still, the lake as smooth as glass, and the leaves and needles on the trees listless. Not a breathe of air seemed to move across the lake or in the trees, accentuating the constant "buzzing" sounds of mosquitoes emerging from their hiding places, flitting about hunting for a bloody meal to fill their hunger and enable them to breed. If you weren't used to the noise, the low, but distinctly heard, hum could be rather disconcerting. If you were outdoors with skin exposed, the bared flesh could become a smorgasbord for hordes of the little bugs to land, stick their proboscis in, and suck out their fill, leaving you itching and with swollen red spots. Even if you were used to the nasty creatures, it still was disconcerting, reminding you to make certain you wore long sleeved shirts and long pants well sprayed with insect repellant. God, they can be irritating!

I shivered at the thought, thankful the porch was well-screened, providing a relatively secure barrier to their invasion. Oh, there were always some managing to penetrate our defenses, creep in, and "zing" past hunting for a feast. Once in a while one would light on your skin, but a healthy "swat" with your hand would smash it to a bloody pulp.

The refrigerator door opened and closed, followed by the sounds of pop can tops being opened, and I was joined by Rick, Elgee, Carl, and Ray. Surprising, they were not in their underwear or naked, but in tee-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes. Before settling down in chairs, Carl asked,

"What's the noise?"




"We have them at home, but they don't seem to sound as loud or ……as many," he said as he too shivered from the thought of the hungry buggers feasting on him.

I explained there may be just as many or may not, but because they lived in the city, there were more meals available, and those homes most distant from bodies of water, where the mosquitoes hatched, would probably have fewer. Additionally, the noise of the city wasn't present here on the lake and, in general, it was quieter, seeming to magnifying the noise. I wrongly assumed if Carl was satisfied, then the others were as well. Wrong!

"Really don't want to be outside naked in the dark," pondered Ray.

Rick just had to ask!


"Well," Ray began with a little twinkle in his eyes. "By the sounds of those bugs, if a dozen or two landed on your cock, they'd suck your nuts up to your crotch hairs—except you, Rick; it'd take at least a hundred and all empty before they started sucking."

Rick sighed in either disgusts or frustration, I wasn't certain which, while Elgee did his best to suppress a laugh. Not Ray and Carl; nope, they lay on the floor, holding their sides, and laughing until tears came to their eyes. I must admit, since I'd seen Rick naked and the size of his cock, Ray just might be right and Elgee could probably attest to since I noticed a slight blush form on his face. I thought it was hilarious as well.

In an attempt to change the discussion and avert attention to his appendage, Rick asked if I could continue my story from the night before. I tipped my head toward Ray and Carl, but Elgee informed me they'd heard everything up to now.

"They were sitting just inside the door last night and I darn near tripped over them going inside when we went to bed."

Ray and Carl shrugged, raised their eyebrows in acknowledgement, so I thought "in for a penny, in for a pound."

My senior year of high school love struck again! Not me, Claire! She met and fell in love with Bill Patterson, a year older than her and working in his father's plumbing and heating business. Claire was totally head-over-heels with the guy and he was with her. Bill was a quiet, good-looking guy, with a good job and from what I could observe, would buy her the moon if she ever asked for it.

When she told me, I wanted to ask if he checked out her plumbing before he did or if she checked to see if he had a leaky pipe, but a glare and "Don't even go there!" stymied my question.

Bill really was a great guy and treated me as a friend and relative of his girlfriend. Actually, it was more than that, they included me in many of their own activities and I never felt like a third thumb. It really intensified our friendship and bond, leading to many good times in later years as well, when David and I returned to the farm. Our friendship really deepened when they announced they were going to marry right after Claire graduated from high school and asked me to be part of the wedding party. I cried like a baby, I was so happy, for them and for me.

I'd decided where I wanted to go to college and was admitted, but I didn't know how I'd pay for it. Granted, the price of a higher education wasn't as high then as it is now, but still one thousand dollars or so in the late '50's was still a great deal of money. Summer factory work, called "extra board," for college students home for the summer, was available since they'd fill in for vacationing regular employees.

Hourly pay for summer employees was equal to the starting pay for regular employees, generally around two dollars per hour, which wasn't bad pay for the times. The particular factory I was looking at applying to paid two dollars and four cents an hour. Given I'd work forty hours per week and approximately ten weeks before I had to report to college, I could earn around eight hundred or so dollars. However, I'd have to have steel-toed shoes, work clothes, and pack lunches every day, as well as buying my dinner and breakfast meals when not at work.

The supermarket where I now worked paid a dollar and a half per hour, plus provided work clothes, I was able to either purchase meals at a discount or, since I had strong relationships with the Deli manager, get them for free. I could make up to six hundred dollars there. If I calculated carefully, the difference, with the additional expenses, working at the factory was less than continuing to work at the store.

Either way, I'd have to get a job while in college, so I decided to stay with the store. Certainly, I thought with Waterloo just next door, there'd be work opportunities, and there had to be city buses running between the two. I was no slouch when it came to riding buses. I thought my summer plans were finalized until in April when Wyatt, one of Claire's older brothers, knocked those plans into space.

Wyatt had one more year to go in order to finish his degree at Iowa City and only came home during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Summers he spent working somewhere else, I assumed. He said he needed someone to work with him at his summer job. The guy who used to graduated and moved and wondered if I was interested in taking his place. It depended, as far as I was concerned, on how much it paid.

Wyatt told me it wouldn't be unusual to earn at least twice what I anticipated either at the store or the factory. Wow! I damn near dumped a sticky, stinky load in my pants when he told me that. The job would involve being gone all summer, traveling, hard work, long days and nights, and working with people on a constant basis. Well, I'd worked at the store and you meet all sorts there going through your checkout line. He thought I'd do well in the job and we'd get along fine.

"A person who could exist in the home life you had, can get along with anyone," he concluded.

I said "yes" before I asked what the job was.

"You might want to change your mind when you find out what I do. I run a concession stand, particularly popcorn, caramel corn, homemade lemonade, and snow cones, and travel the State with carnivals. "

My life took a drastic turn and change when I accepted his offer. We left the day after Claire and Bill were married; their life full of love and mine full of anticipation and hope.

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