‘Little Suzi’ and the Silver Christmas Cross

Once upon a time long, long ago—in the 1960’s—a little girl named Suzi often stayed overnight with her grandparents in their shoebox-size house on the lovely corner of Sheffield and Stockton roads. It wasn’t just because Little Suzi’s grandparents loved her so very much that they looked forward to frequent visits from their granddaughter, it was also because Suzi’s mommy Wilma needed a break now and then from working all day and caring for Suzi (and her invisible friend Albert) every evening of every week of every year!

This particular Friday in December, Little Suzi came straight to her grandparent’s house directly after school. It was the last day of school before Christmas, and the children were let out early, so Little Suzi’s mommy made arrangements for the girl to stay at her grandparents’ through the weekend. Suzi especially loved to visit around Christmas time because Granny cooked up delicious pies and cookies that perfumed the whole house with tasty scents of cinnamon, apples, nutmeg, walnuts, pecans, and cherries that she used in various delicious ways. The small house stayed warm and smelled wonderful all December from all the cooking going on in the kitchen.

1 Merry Christmas 2010

The kitchen alcove had a special table with two chairs just the right size for a little girl and her invisible friend, and so that’s where Little Suzi and Albert took their breakfast, lunch, and snacks whenever she stayed with Granny and Granddaddy Hood.

It was on this particular Saturday morning in the kitchen that Suzi looked at Albert across the table in a funny way while she continued eating her breakfast of oatmeal with brown sugar and toast with honey.

“I saw some boxes on the top shelf of Granny’s closet in her bathroom,” Suzi began.

What were you doing snooping in Granny’s closet? Albert challenged his friend. You’re not supposed to snoop at Christmas time, you know.Continue reading “‘Little Suzi’ and the Silver Christmas Cross”

‘Little Suzi’ and the New Town

Solway Bridge (old) photo

Once upon a time long, long ago—in the 1960’s—a little girl named Suzi and her mother lived with her Granny and Granddaddy in a comfortable, but small, house on the west end of town. Little Suzi had lived with her grandparents for as long as she could remember and had no reason to think she might one day live anyplace else. But one day, while Suzi was out of school for the summer, her mommy came into the kitchen where Suzi was reading at the table and announced they would be moving.

“Suzi,” the mother told her little girl, “I have something important to tell you.”


“That’s good,” Little Suzi said absentmindedly as she went on reading her new library book, Charlotte’s Web. (She was a very good reader for her age, but Suzi had to concentrate and use Granny’s dictionary to look up the words she didn’t know—hard words like “rummaging” and “spinnerets” and “salutations”!)

“We’ll be moving soon,” Suzi’s mother continued as she sat down at the table next to the girl. “We’ll be moving to a new town not too far from here.”

That got her daughter’s attention, you can bet, and Suzi put down her chapter book and sat straight up in her chair. “But why?!” she asked.Continue reading “‘Little Suzi’ and the New Town”

‘Little Suzi’ and the Bear’s Picnic

Photo by Phil Nickell

Once upon a time long, long ago—in the 1960’s—a little girl named Suzi, her mother Wilma, and her grandparents decided to go for a Sunday afternoon picnic in the mountains of East Tennessee. It was late summer in the city near the mountains where Suzi’s grandparents lived in a small, square house with only a noisy electric fan in the window to help them through the hot and humid days.

Suzi’s granny, Eileen, made special-recipe fried chicken and her grandaddy, Manly, packed the car with the picnic basket, picnic blanket, and heavy fold-up wooden chairs. He put all these things in the trunk of the car so that Suzi, her mommy, and her granny had lots of room to sit inside. They needed lots of room because Suzi always brought her ‘friends’ with her on picnics: a tall baby doll with yellow hair, a monkey sewn from old socks, and a boy named Albert, whom no one else could see but who took up the whole middle seat in the rear of the car.

Continue reading “‘Little Suzi’ and the Bear’s Picnic”

‘Little Suzi’ and the ‘Noculation

Once upon a time long, long ago—in the 1960’s—a little girl named Suzi traveled downtown to see her doctor with her mommy, Wilma.  For this visit, they did not travel the several city blocks there on a bus or in a cab, as they usually did. Instead, they rode in a car that Suzi’s mommy borrowed from her friend Nancy (her best friend from high school days who now lived only one block away).

“We’re running a little late for Suzi’s pediatrician appointment,” Wilma had told her friend over the phone at noon on this beautiful but hot summer day. “Suzi isn’t back from helping her granddaddy tie stakes to his tomato plants next to his backyard shed. I need to borrow your car if we are going to make it to the doctor’s office on time.”

“Well, my little Denny is still taking his nap,” Nancy told her friend, “so why don’t you walk over here to my house and get the keys and drive yourself?”

“That’s wonderful of you,” Wilma replied gratefully. “I’ll be there in a jiffy.”

And so Suzi’s mommy put on her red lipstick, picked up her black clutch purse, put on her sunglasses, tied her new sky blue silk scarf around her hair—to block the wind from the rolled down car windows—and walked briskly up the block to Nancy’s house.

“Thanks so much, Nancy,” Wilma said on the front porch as her friend handed over the keys to the four-door Buick parked on the street outside. “You’re a life saver.”

It was just a week before school would start for Little Suzi in the first grade at the red and white brick schoolhouse only two blocks away from their small white frame house on Magnolia Avenue. And so Suzi’s mommy needed to get her child’s inoculation record up to date to show the school nurse on the first day of class.

“What’s a ‘noculation?” Suzi had asked her invisible friend Albert after hearing her mother talk about it to Miss Nancy on the phone earlier in the week.

I don’t know, Albert told his friend, but I think the nurse sticks medicine in your arm and then gives you a lollypop if you’re good. Can I have one too?

“A ‘noculation?”

No, a lollypop!

“Sure,” Suzi told Albert. “You can have mine if the nurse won’t give you one of your own.”

***Continue reading “‘Little Suzi’ and the ‘Noculation”