BY-WAYS - 2/27/47 - Washington's Birthday

Two hundred and fifteen years ago today a child was born in "Old Dominion" - a child who was destined to become great. Today we honor his birthday, and close our banks, federal buildings, meat markets in Long Beach; and even the the humble rubbish collector refuses to work on Washington's Birthday. Every person of foreign birth must pass a citizenship test before he can become "naturalized," and enjoy all the privileges of a citizen of the United States. Wouldn't it be a good thing if every young man and woman in this country, approaching maturity and the voting privilege had to take a test in good citizenship? It should be required reading for every would-be citizen to study the life of George Washington and the qualities that made him great: his great faith, his humility, his daily, hourly, invocation of God's guidance; his stern, implacable resistance against all attempts to make of him a king, or any kind of dictator. No truly great person ever seeks personal power or glory. ***

Years ago one of Cleveland's cleverest and most popular writers started her column writing by telling how her friends were urging her to get away from housewifely duties - get out in the big world and gather material for the stories that she could write. She said then that her richest material was right at her door or within her four walls. She proved it in the very first story. Would that I had the gift of Claire MacMurray for telling a story or relating an incident! But I will do my best with the material at hand. When we first came to Long Beach, and lived with the Uncle Sam Smith's - only 200 ft. away from American Avenue, a main thoroughfare, we were awakened nearly every night, sometimes twice, by the screaming police siren or that of the Red Cross ambulance, or both. It was always a shocking and bloodcurdling reminder of crime or tragedy stalking our streets. Little did I dream those sirens would wail to a sudden halt at our door. It was here on Chestnut Street - in November - shortly after a young couple moved in upstairs. Beautiful, blue-eyed Cornelia was still grieving over the baby they loved and lost. Shortly after the baby's death Cornelia had a very serious operation, followed by pneumonia. The young husband, Arvest, was working much too hard - to get caught up on all the heavy bills. One Saturday night there was a scream upstairs. A visiting sailor dashed down - to "get a doctor" - Arvest had apparently taken poison. Somebody furnished a doctor's name; the sailor called him, while I flew upstairs like a bewildered old hen, about to lose one of her chicks. Arvest was covered with red splotches, and breathing heavily. But he wouldn't talk. He had started to write on a piece of paper, "If anything happens to me, 'Babe' had nothing to do..." That settled it with "Babe" (Cornelia). He had surely taken poison. Cornelia was frantic. The doctor on the other end of the telephone line referred us to another doctor. The second doctor hemmed and hawed and prescribed an emetic. Finally, a cool-headed ex-marine on our floor said, "Call the police." They'll get him to a hospital in nothing flat. I called the police. It seemed only a matter of seconds until the sirens were screaming down 4th Street, followed very shortly by the wailing ambulance. Suddenly our hall was full of burly and belted policemen. They reached the second floor in three bounds, hustled balky Arvest into his clothes, while one of their number searched the bathroom and Arvest's car for evidence of poison. Two other young couples accompanied Cornelia to the hospital, where she underwent a gruelling grilling by the police. In the meantime a kindly doctor found out that Arvest had taken four A.P.C. tablets, to "kill or cure" - a cold. The overdose affected the heart and the whole circulating system. Arvest felt a strange sinking sensation - thought he was going to die - but, such is his horror of hospitals that he would almost rather die than go to one. He was already on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The attending doctor let him come home the next day, on condition that he rest in bed for five days, and cut down on his work. He came around all right. He and Cornelia are still with us. Every morning at 6:10, as steady as clock-work, Arvest comes down the carpeted stairs in his welder's "uniform," his cap at a jaunty angle, a bewitching little-boy smile on his young, round face.

Now I must close - with a good fish story in the offing. Also the interesting airplane facts, which must wait. Good-by for now.

Florence B. Taylor.

Next - 3/6/47 - "Little Eva" and the Fish Story
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