Five Kids and a Dime

By on May 1, 2014
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By Barbara Franzen –

With the Great Depression in full swing, the folks of Gothenburg Nebraska, a small prairie town, flocked to the annual Swede Festival. The colorful festivities served as a distraction from everyday stagnation.  Nelly Carlson and her five children, ranging from age twelve down to eight months, were among them. Living on Main Street, they watched the parade that morning from prime curbside seats, taking in the marching bands, horses, a fire truck, kids in costumes, pets, dancers, floats, and plenty of tossed candy. Such an array of endless delights.

When the parade ended, Nelly and her neighbors picnicked in the town park. They had an abundance of fried chicken, rolls, cherry pie, chatter, and laughter. Next, Nelly took her kids for a colorful walk to admire the corn stalks, lining the streets, as well as large pumpkins. The downtown festivities would wait until later. Little Alex needed his nap, and Nelly had chores to get done. Husband Eric’s job would keep him from going along.

Later, with the afternoon over and the kids fed, Nelly’s eyes turned to worry. Reaching up to a shelf, she clasped her fingers around a coin. Eric had given it to her that morning. “Nelly”, he’d said, “I saved something. I want the children and you too, to have a nice time.” Nelly studied the coin, frowning. What good was a dime with five kids?

Fretting, with baby Axel in her arms, Nelly led her children along to the festival. When they arrived, she said, “Kids, we can’t spend. Walking and watching will have to do.”

Anna, the oldest, nodded. Ernie, age ten, whined for a bit.  Sophie, who was six, ran off to watch the strong man, and Carolyn, age four, asked for an apple. To distract Carolyn, Anna pointed towards some chalk prizes. “Look,” Anna said, “Men are trying to win those.”

Nelly beamed. Her children understood about the depression and the shortage of money. But for lands sake! Nelly thought. The way some of em’ were spending—it was enough to arouse want and longing in any child. Sighing, Nelly fingered the dime. If only she could take it back home. But, if she did, Eric would be disappointed. How could he think that a dime was enough for five kids?

Hugging Axel close, Nelly viewed the quilt collection and the painted china. By then, eight thirty had rolled around. It was time to head home, except that the dime was still in her pocket. She couldn’t give one child a ride over another. What would she do? Why was it like this? She was always the one in charge of deciding. “Five kids and a dime,” she muttered. Not hearing this, sensible Anna walked up to her.

“Mama, do you want me to hold Axel?” Anna asked.

“No. No I don’t. I want something else,” Nelly said, brightening. Bending, Nelly whispered in Anna’s ear.

In no time, the kids, had linked arms in order to form a circle. In less than a minute, all four looked up. “Mama,” Anna said. “We have the answer. You and Axel ride the carousel. We can hardly wait to see his happy face. It’s his first time. We want you with him. You deserve a ride as the best mother.”

As the horse pumped up and down to the music, Nelly held Axel in the saddle. Looking out, she saw the exalted faces of her children. Eric was right, she thought, wiping a tear. A dime had been plenty.

 

Barb Franzen lives a prairie life in the Platte Valley of NB. A nature lover she is passionate about writing. Other interests include genealogy, mental health, reading and quilting-Her favorite thing is painting pictures with words and discovering out of the way haunts-A woman who lives outside of the box- You can find her at her blog at: http://gabbi-innerjoy.blogspot.com/.

About Barb Franzen

Barb Franzen lives a prairie life in the Platte Valley of NB. A nature lover she is passionate about writing. Other interests include genealogy, mental health, reading and quilting-Her favorite thing is painting pictures with words and discovering out of the way haunts-A woman who lives outside of the box- You can find her at her blog at: http://gabbi-innerjoy.blogspot.com/.

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Five Kids and a Dime