The Spiderweb

A Three Creeks Story

" Not that I speak in respect of want: For I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11

After the last deep snowfall in Three Creeks, Herb Johanssen decided it was not quite time to put away the new snowblower. His pride and joy, Herb had gotten the snowblower from Mildred and Thomas and Bipsy for Christmas. He was thrilled. Thomas never knew what his Dad wanted; His sister, Bipsy, and Mom thought the snowblower was perfect.

Now, Herb was a man on a mission. Bring it on, Herb was ready! Willingly and cheerfully, Herb "blowed" his long drive and his neighbors as well as a quarter mile of Winchester road. All that was visible was Herb's broad smile, gleaming teeth and a steady stream of white erupting on both sides of the Acme Sucker-Up Snowblower Model XYZ. Such was the picture of contentment. A man on a mission, Herb was a winter warrior, "doing good" as Rev Paul would say, "tithing with your deeds."

Not all of Three Creeks was as happy with winter as Herb. Driving in the deep snow and unloading truck was a challenge on any day, but a huge challenge in bad weather. The customers at the Red Rooster Cafe could tell supplies were low, plenty of coffee but only one packet of cream ‘till the truck arrives. The "Regular's" knew this rule of thumb and didn't seem put off. Thomas Kinsey would be along soon; Driving truck was his life and love, he'd not let Red Rooster down. Kinsey Delivery was a staple of Three Creeks and Thomas would come soon.

The door of Red Rooster swung open and let in a blast of cold air. Patrons sitting at the counter shivered. Willimina Jones was Server Captain and Bud Roscoe was Cook Captain. Willimina sang out in a loud voice, bugle-loud,

"Open door, frozen folks... Closed door, thawed folks! It's Mother Nature's job to heat the outside, not ours! CLOSE THE DOOR!" Those bewildered customers coming in soon acceded to Willimina's demand. Willy was not a low-key presence. Some folks in Three Creeks compared her to the wrestlers on TV. Some of Three Creeks residents wanted Willimina to enter the "Arnold Classic" for bodybuilders up in Columbus, Ohio.

She'd win in her class... just from overwhelming the judges. Other folks wanted Willimina to be in the Pit Crew for the "Rahal Racing Team from Hillard," north of Columbus.

Neither of these opportunities seemed likely, Willimina had no plans to change her employment. Red Rooster was home away from home. Besides, Willimina was one of the few who could hold her own with any customer including those truckers coming in from long-haul driving between Cleveland and Cincy. And best of all, Willy, as her friends called her, was not intimidated by Bud Roscoe. Bud rode his Cooks hard, often being on the line between serious and insulting. When he took that tone with the Servers, it took only one time for a Server to tell Willy, and Bud backed off. It wasn't an issue of discussion, Bud knew better than to argue with Willy. She would reprimand her Servers if need be, but Bud, if he valued having any Server deliver the food, would not fool with Willy or any Server.

Willimina had not always been tough. But left to raise four children as a widow and no real education beyond Three Creeks High School, Willy turned her social side into a life-long job... for as long as she wanted.

See Willy had an incredible memory and knack for knowing the joys and sorrows of her customers. Next to Velma's Hair and Nails, Willy at the Red Rooster was a crossroads of news, views, think, talk and therapy... about in that order. Bigger places like the I-talien place, Olive Garden, they had lots of staff and no one knew you, but at the Red Rooster, Willy knew you. She'd just as likely remember that you wanted fried cod on Wednesday night during Lent as send a birthday card to your child. Willy was more than customer-service, she was RR Family. How to explain?

In Three Creeks where you could trace back four generations from memory and a whole lot more on paper (in the Three Creeks Historical Society), no body was a real stranger. Even new folks who moved in to Three Creeks, Willy, Velma, Sister Mary Rose, or Rev Paul got their history, their news and views, their folk, friends, and fears.

In Three Creeks you can't remain a stranger for long. Like a single strand of wet hair escaping the blow-dryer, you can't escape the heat of love. As a matter of fact you are carried on the heat of love.

We're carried forward in the rush of love from childhood. Think of your aunts? Think of your grandma's? If your folks had no love to give, the neighbors of Three Creeks stepped in to raise you. Many a child grew to adult life mentored by the town's spider web of love. Three Creeks had its own way. Whether you went on Sunday to St. Margaret's Catholic or All Saint's Baptist, AME Zion, or on Friday to Tiffereth Israel , or not at all, you had folk. You had kin.

Just as likely that you might be at a game at Three Creeks High School, and the parents as well as the town-parents showed up. The spider web of love spread its strings across all of Three Creeks. Velma told Willy that even Mrs. Purdy, Head Cook at the HS, had said at the BB game on Saturday night, " That sooner or later, the web of love would snare the new Principal, 'that man,' as Mrs. Purdy referred to him." Such was the spider web of life and love that anchored kith and kin.

Returning home at the end of her shift, Willimina found that Herb Johanssen had "blowed" her long drive clear of all the snow. This was just a little bit after Thomas Kinsey arrived at the Red Rooster, unloaded the truck and the "Regulars" had more than enough creams for their coffee. Even Bud seemed in a good mood. He spoke nicely to the Cooks.

By ME Hansburg

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