The Quiet Life of Etta Raye
"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." ~Ray Bradbury
June 21st, 1907. Sometime just before dark. Victoria Raye was in labor.
There isn't anyone left in the community that remembers the actual event. So my tale is one of second-hand accounts and from the daughter of Victoria Raye herself. Her name was Etta, and she was everyone's grandmother.
Etta Raye was born here and lived in this community for 99 years and 11 months. It was the same year the house I live in was built. She was over 30 years old and had a family before World War II even started.
Her husband had bought her a tv set in the late 50s but she never watched it. It wasn't till she was 65. Her husband died on a Friday. The following Monday she woke bright and early and went to the community center where she made coffee then sat and waited for someone to come in to talk to.
Within a few hours she was getting tired so she walked home, and for no certain reason, turned on the tv, then sat down and started watching a relatively new show called "The Price is Right."
For over thirty years that was her routeen. Not every single day, but you could count the times she missed on your fingers and toes. She developed a secret crush on Bob Barker and told me recently that she didn't know what she was going to do now that he was retiring.
Over thirty years...
When Lora and I walked into the community center kitchen that morning and saw that the coffee hadn't been made we both froze for a second.
The whole world seemed to freeze for just a second.
Neither of us said a word. I put the stuff I was carrying on a counter and Lora picked up the phone. After dialing a number and holding the reciever to her ear for what seemed like forever, she hung it back up, waited a second, then dialed another number.
"Malcolm, grandma Etta isn't at the center and she's not answering her phone."
Those are the last words I clearly remember from that day. Within half an hour Elder Malcolm came into the community center and told us that grandma Etta had died in her sleep. He had tears in his eyes.
Lora had been planning her hundredth birthday party to be held at the center. We're still having it.
Just before 11:00 am I flipped the tv on at the community center. I found what I was looking for and sat down to watch. I remember having tears in my eyes as Bob Barker reminded us to have our pets spayed or nuetered.
That was last week and things haven't felt the same here since. I imagine it will someday. But right now there's nothing in the world I would like more than to go to grandma Etta's house, get a vanilla cone, and sit on her curb eating it.
p.s. I've changed the formatting of my blog so only the most recent five posts show on the front page. To see older posts just go to the archives.
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