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Jr. Tales: Blanket Solution

Rivka Small

“Imagine sitting in that store all day among dusty antiques and crumbling books,” mused Rikki. “I would hate it. Poor Mommy”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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S hmuli, Rina, and Rikki Fried were sitting at the kitchen table, happily eating the kind of noodle soup you make by adding water from the urn. They only got instant soup for supper because their mother was still at her store, trying to keep her business going. Though they were sad their mother’s store wasn’t making money, they were happy to be eating soup instead of the kind of things their mother made, like quinoa with cranberries and chickpeas.

“Imagine sitting in that store all day among dusty antiques and crumbling books,” mused Rikki. “I would hate it. Poor Mommy.”

“Mommy loves the antiques,” Rina corrected her. “But she won’t have them to love much longer if the store goes out of business. We have to think of a way to help.”

The three siblings pondered, the only sound in the room the comforting slurp of soup. Then Rina blurted, “I know! My friend’s father owns some nursing homes. I’m going to ask him whether he wants to buy antiques to decorate the homes nicely.”

Shmuli wasn’t sure convincing a few family friends to buy antiques would solve the problem. “Maybe the problem isn’t that not enough people are buying antiques, but that she doesn’t have good enough ones to buy,” he suggested to his sisters.

The girls were aghast at the suggestion that their mother’s wares weren’t good enough. “But she knows the best places in the country to scavenge treasures hidden in attics and garages!”

“Nonetheless,” Shmuli decided, “she may need help. I’m going with her this Sunday.”

Sunday morning, before it was even light, Shmuli was seated in the cold 15-passenger van next to his mother. The back seats were removed to make room for the antiques when their mother went on what she called her “foraging trips,” looking for good finds no one else knew about.

“Are you sure you want to come?” Mrs. Fried asked for the sixth time as she backed out of the driveway. Shmuli nodded, and with a shrug, they started the two-hour trip to Pennsylvania.

The sun was coming up over the wintery mountains as Mrs. Fried pulled the van onto a dirt road. The fine dusting of snow would melt if it got sunny, but in the gray early morning, leafless trees and bare fields looked like a stark, vivid picture Shmuli had seen somewhere. 

Mrs. Fried broke into Shmuli’s thoughts. “If I can get the antique quilts an old man here has, there’s a collector ready to pay very well for them. It might even save the store.” 

Mrs. Fried hopped out of the van, and started up the walk to a shack that looked in immediate danger of falling over. Its gray paint blended into the misty morning air. The man sitting on a chair on the porch also blended in, so well that Shmuli didn’t notice him until he heard a creaky voice ask, “Back again, Mrs. Fried?”

Mrs. Fried smiled as she approached the house, her boots crunching on the snowy dirt path. “Yes sir, Mr. McClellan. I came to see whether you’d reconsider selling me your grandmother’s quilts.”

“I don’t think so, ma’am,” Mr. McClellan said. “I know my kids don’t care nothing about them, will probably chuck them in the trash the day I pass on, and I haven’t even looked at them myself since you were here last in the summer. But I just don’t know as it’s right to sell my granny’s quilts that she sewed by hand.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 690)

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