Saturday, January 17, 2015

Teatime Tale #3 - Put a Lid on It

  Put a Lid On It

           It’s another snowy morning here in Cleveland, Ohio, as good a time as any to sort through that box of stuff that belonged to Grandma Prescott. I’m still unsure why Mom gave it to me. There are some old letters Grandpa wrote to Grandma during World War II. We’re lucky Grandpa came back since so many men didn’t. Think I’ll set those letters aside to read this afternoon.
            Here’s one of those cardinal figurines Grandma used to collect. She did love her pretty red birds.
            What’s in this old pillowcase? I don’t remember seeing this when Mom gave me the box. A tarnished silver teapot. Hmm. The lid doesn’t come off. Oh, it’s got a hinge. Guess you’ll never misplace the lid that way. What does it say on the bottom? “The Heery Brothers Tea Room.” Hey, that’s the old tea room where Grandma worked when she first met Grandpa. Or at least I think that’s what Mom always said. I’ll have to ask her about that next time we talk.
            I wonder why Grandma kept this old teapot?

* * *

            Alice Fay Davidson loved her job at the Heery Brothers Department Store Tea Room in Cleveland.  She’d worked there a year now, hired the same week she graduated from high school in 1942.
            Heery Brothers was Cleveland’s most upscale department store. Women were eager to work there for many reasons, not least of which was the employee discount. Alice liked knowing she could always afford a new scarf or blouse each payday, proudly taking each new purchase home in one of the store’s famous shopping bags with salmon-colored geraniums on them.
            The other reason Alice enjoyed her job was that like most 19-year-old women, she was eager to get married and start a family, and a lot of handsome men shopped at Heery’s. She had dated the boys in high school, but that was the problem—they were just boys. Alice was looking for a man.
            One Wednesday afternoon, some time between taking Cobb Salads to two ladies at Table Three and delivering the check to a mother and toddler at Table One, Alice saw a man at Table Four who nearly made her drop her order pad. She was about to place it back in her apron pocket when she glanced up and saw the man in uniform boldly watching her. He didn’t even try to hide his interest.
            Alice quickly looked away, but she couldn’t forget that face. Those eyes.
            She headed to the kitchen to pick up another order, and when she got there, Blanche Monroe, the manager, whistled at her.
            “What’s that for?” Alice asked.
            “Don’t pretend you didn’t notice the good-looking Air Force guy at Table Four,” Blanche said. “We all think he looks like a young Nelson Eddy. You should go after him.”
            Alice laughed. “Don’t be silly. Men like that have more girls than they can shake a stick at. I think he just wants a hot meal, that’s all.”
            “Sure,” Blanche said. “If you say so.”          
            Alice had to admit the man was good-looking. She composed herself before going over to take his order.
            “Hi, I’m Alice.” A blush rose on her cheeks. “Can I get you something to drink?”
            “I’ll have a small pot of tea,” he said. “By the way, I’m Frank Prescott.”
            “We don’t usually have men order tea here,” Alice said. “Most men order coffee.”
            “My mother was British, so I grew up drinking tea,” Frank said. “Old habits die hard.”
            “Well, that explains it then,” Alice said, smiling a little more than she meant to. “I’ll be right back with your tea.”
            Filling one of the small silver teapots in the kitchen, Alice was grilled by Blanche and her fellow waitresses.
            “What did he say?”
            “What’s his name?”
            “Where’s he from?”
            But Alice didn’t have time to waste. She took Frank’s tea to his table and poured him a cup before taking his lunch order of Almond Rarebit, a popular cheese and toast dish. No one joined him for lunch, and when she took him the check at the completion of his meal, he was extra friendly, telling her he was in town on business from Wright Field over in Dayton.
            “How long have you worked here?” Frank asked.
            “A year. I couldn’t decide whether to go to secretarial school or not, so I thought working here would help me earn some money while I decide where I want to go in life.”
            “I’ve got an idea of where you can go,” Frank said, his blue eyes twinkling.
            “Oh, really?”
            “Yes, there’s a great new band playing over at the country club Friday night, and I’m invited and can bring a date. I think we’d have a swell time. Unless …”
            “Unless what?”
            “Unless you’ve got a fellow.”
            “No, I don’t,” Alice said. “And thanks. I’d like that.”
            Frank pulled out a small notepad and pen. He asked Alice for her phone number and address and said he’d see her at seven p.m. Friday.
            “It was nice meeting you,” she said as he rose to leave. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw two of the waitresses watching them.
            “You too, Alice. And by the way, that’s some of the best tea I’ve ever had. You make it nice and strong here, just like my mother always did. Or maybe you’ve got a magic teapot. Is that it?”
            “Could be,” Alice said. “You’ll have to come back and try it again another day.”
            Blanche, who had suddenly decided she needed to refresh the flowers on Table One, overheard the whole conversation.
            “Give me that teapot,” she told Alice once Frank left.
            “I’m putting it up on the shelf and saving it for your wedding gift. You’re going to marry that man.”
            “Don’t be ridiculous, Blanche. You can’t know something like that.”
            “Just hand me the teapot and put a lid on it, will you?


  1. The magic teapot ... loved this story!

  2. This short story ended with me wanting more - must be the romantic in me. ;-) Like its predecessors, it was great. Thank you!

  3. Very good, we're all keen for a love story and as Phyllis says, this one needs a continuation please.

  4. Aw, this is another great one! I'm loving your stories,

  5. Loved your story-very sweet. :)

    Thank you!

  6. LOVED IT! I am enjoying your store so much!

  7. Oh, dear. I meany stories, not store. I better pour a cup of strong Irish Breakfast tea and wake up!

  8. Very clever story! How do you come up with all of these great (tea) story ideas? This is a wonderful way to start my Saturday morning.

  9. Now I look forward to my Saturday mornings with a cup of tea and your new tea story! Loved them all! Keep up the good work. You are a very talented lady! Nancy

  10. Loved it! I love tea, and I love romance stories. You are one very talented tea lady!

  11. Loved your story! Could Heery Bros. be a cross between Halles Bros. and Higbees? Or was there such a store? I will have to ask my parents both still living in Cleveland. I enjoyed the story so much but it was hard to read through the sentimental tears.

  12. What a wonderful writer you are! More, please! ♥

  13. Oh Angela, you've got me hooked and wanting more! I have done a few stints as a bartender and server - you've got the restaurant banter 'down to a tee!'

    Cafes and restaurant staffs can be like one big family and this story brings back some very fond memories. Thank you for sharing your many, many talents. Here's wishing you a lovely weekend, Joanie

  14. I too look forward to reading your Saturday story. I loved this one - especially the young lady earning her paychecks to "shop" for a scarf or treat - and the detail of the bag with salmon flowers. I always enjoy a pretty bag for my purchases! Reminds me of Downton last week "I may be old but I can still tell when a man is interested."! CUTE!

  15. Loved the story! I felt my cheeks blush also when hers did, you hooked me right in.

  16. Angela, this was great! Can't wait to hear more of the story- you just can't leave us hanging. I know it's suppose to be a "short" story, but the romance.....oh please more.
    Teresa C.

  17. BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO - Oh Angela. I love love love your short little stories. They're amazing. YOU are amazing. Well done, yet again my friend. ♥♥♥

  18. I love it! What a very sweet story. I love how you have taken what you have learned from tea rooms of that era and woven them through the story so beautifully.

  19. I enjoyed this story very much. I am a big fan of historical romance, so this one spoke to me. I got all choked up at the end! :)

  20. I'm a sucker for nice short stories. These are nice.

  21. I love this story. So sweet. I am fairly new to your blog, so trying to play catch up by reading older posts is fun. Thank you.


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