Planting Roses in the West

It was a challenge the move from Ireland at age 15 with her new husband to come to the states and work they both did non-stop to earn the meager amount just to stay in a one room. The noise and smells were horrid and constant to the point she could only sleep due to sheer exhaustion. She dreamed every night about the thatch cottage she grew up in the roasted potatoes and chunk of cheese for super or a piece of bread with butter and jam for breakfast. As each night they both went to sleep hungry waiting for opportunity that was awaiting them. It was hours at the sewing machine and hours more cleaning others homes. While Jimmy worked a coal wagon each morning to deliveries and in the dusk hours work unloading the docks till late. The occasional evening Jimmy returned drunk and singing and wanting sweet love that is how our two boys came to be all tied up in our small one room shanty that the landlord decided to increase the rent cause there were more people now.

Then one day there came announcement of land opportunities all was need a fortune that we did not have to obtain a right to claim. I looked at him and declared I want a cottage, I want the boys enjoy bread and butter in the morning and an occasional roasted chicken for Sunday supper. Jimmy only looked at me like how can we obtain such things, “Look Rose, turtledove we’re barely making it by as it is. Now how do you think we are going to make it out this hell hole we can’t go back to Ireland either there ain’t no more than two coins rubbing and thin they are in our pockets between us both.” Rose could only cry and Jimmy knew she was right they had come to hope better things. Why not exercise the idea after all. “You know woman I am a cobbler no farming man personally but you want I guess you will work the death of me breaking the earth. Augh, now dry your tears we just have to come up with a plant to make things come to us see. Rose sobbing like a child, looked up at Jimmy and smiled, “Promise we have a cottage just for us.” Jimmy nodded and held her close.

The next day Rose pulled out the land grant poster a pinned it up on the wall, she placed a broken jar on the mantle that leaked but still solid and decided not to throw out in it she stored a sack of tea. She placed a coin in the bottom under the tea sack. Now, we work for that jar to be filled to the brim and take us there. Off they went to work her taking the youngest boy with her Toby who would patiently gather her colored threads for sewing saving on time to do more piece work. Jimmy took Robert who color blind and older would sit in the wagon and listen to him. The children would meet up with their mother as she worked in the evening work as a scullery maid as the boys got the opportunity to eat any scraps or wash up before Jimmy would come to walk them home carry a sleeping Robert over his shoulder and Rose little Toby. Then do it all over again collecting the coins into the jar. Then one day Rose showed up and there were men taking things out the others in the kitchen were crying.

“What is the meaning of this? What has happened?” she asked the servers told her, “The old man died and penniless no wages for the month the collectors have come to take everything.” Jimmy looked at Rose they need that income it help make the rent. Rose took a deep breath, “Jimmy I’ll take the boys home and begin asking around for other jobs it will be all right.” Upon returning home Rose looked at the Jar there was only half the month rent saved but not enough till when to get them through. She put on her shawl and told Robert to tend to Toby taking the breakfast bread and serving it to them out the door she went to purvey the streets for some idea. She wandered into a bar and there was a man she asked the man, “You have need of a scullery maid?” he nodded no. Dejected she turned a man drinking in the corner asked, Lass, what made you lose your last job you drink?

Not a good thing after all women don’t walk into a bar unless she no scullery maid at all? Rose’s face flushed, “The man I worked for passed away and was indebt so there no months wages a women sir will walk as she pleases with two small boys to feed!” Rose was about to pass him as he reached out and grabbed her arm. She braced herself as he took a drag on his rolled cigarette. “I see, well my lass she took off on me and I know her job is available it is tending an elder woman more work than a scullery maid work. I tell you what go here.” He takes a ticket off the floor and writes on it and hands it to her. She nods and walks out the door to return home. Jimmy returns and Rose is happy she hands him the paper ticket. He reads it and says, “So what is this a job I will go and see on my day off tomorrow Bridget down the hall asked why I was here I told her the boys were sick and would miss work tomorrow for but a day.”

Morning came and Rose waited till Bridget and the others had left to go after the new job. She took both boys with her. It was a long walk into a very nice neighborhood the policeman stopped her asking her business she handed him the paper with the address, “I’m here as directed to seek my employer out she is expecting me.” He looks at her keenly and the boys that cower behind her, “The house is two down on the left with the lions out front.” He hands her back the piece of paper and walks away. She arrives and knocks on the door a man answers¸ “We don’t offer handouts Mrs.” Before he could close the door, “This be no handout I understand the Mrs. of the house is seeking a replacement for the other lady that left so I’ve arrived at the correct address am I right?”

The man states, “Walk to the back did the service not instruct you not to enter the front of the house?” She nodded dragging the boys with her to the back she entered the kitchen area. There a woman was looking at her boys, “Mrs. Kempfer would not take too keenly children running around the house messing up the place.” Rose stated boldly the boys were a pleasure at my last employer they’re well behaved that it was insisted they come. There she entered and began to remove her hat so where do I begin first as the boys found a corner to sit in quietly. “The tray it is time for Mrs. Kempfers breakfast Ellen will show you around and fill you on the details.

Rose placed an apron around her simple black dress and proceeded behind Ellen with the breakfast tray. They rounded the narrow back hall winding stairs. Ellen a tall thin woman moved like a stick bug no grace but swift that rose hardly could keep up. Ellen came to an utter stop so quick that Rose nearly crashed but recovered side swinging the tray coming beside her with a smile. “There will be no smiling non-such nonsense with the Mistress”, Ellen stated. Rose nodded with a sigh and braced herself to face her new employer as Ellen opened the door. Upon a stately bedroom by a bay window as Ellen silently pointed was a breakfast table, Rose quickly began setting the plates and arrangements for the Mrs. Kempfers. They both hastily walked out- Ellen quickly pulled a tapestry cord alighting a pleasant chime.

“Follow me, quickly now”, Rose hastily trod to keep up as Ellen went from room to room dictating the assignments of the week. A chime went out and they returned to clear the breakfast plates the same for lunch then again for dinner at 5 pm by the time cleaning and all were done it was 7pm. Rose awoke the boys and began to ready herself to leave as the butler handed her an envelope show up tomorrow without the children and you will be informed if your services would be continued. Rose nodded and replied, “Yes, sir.” Dragging the boys to Boyden Street where she ran into Jimmy running the wagon they pitched in to ride a spell till both could return home at 10:00 p.m. As the boys slept, the silently opened the envelope inside was a piece of paper with the instructions and assignments or the week per a tight scheduled rounds by the minute. Then dropped out the rest like angel’s feathers paper bills something they hardly ever saw the amount astonishing $10.00 five years wages.

Returning the next day Rose silently entered picked up the tray and went about the duties not uttering a world in quick haste. The third day still no one said a thing as she continued everything upon the list setting the lamps one night before leaving a woman entered the room in stately dressed Rose surprised glanced down and went quickly to leave the room. “Wait, you’re the new maid correct it a Daisy correct?” replied tilting her head as inquisitive. “Yes, Mam I been here no more but three days, my name is Rose. Is there anything that you request of me Mam”, Rose humble replied looking downward. “No, that will be all see the butler before you leave that is all dismissed.” The butler Mr. Noels hand her an envelope and quietly she leaves earlier than before as Rose finished her duties early since of 4 in the morning it nearly 5 in the afternoon each day finishing an hour early and aiding other duties. The others calling her the work machine.

Upon returning she makes the dinner to see Jimmy returning early down hearted. “Jimmy what is the matter, with you why you so early home?” Rose looks at him with concern. “I’ve lost both jobs sweet looks like you be the earner now, that Hugh’s he went and started trouble for me after he came to work with us some friend he’s not his wife Bridget now she’s a fine one she followed you and says that you been canned too dear love.” Jimmy just stumbles upon the chair and sits down at the table. Rose quickly runs to her purse and pulls out a letter and sits down in front of Jimmy with an envelope now resting in front of them on the table. “So, that meddling Bridget & Hugh they no good scoundrels after our livelihood not and this is what this letter tis for after only three day’s” Rose wells up with tears.

After a long moment of silence Jimmy reads the letter he looks at her with a shocked look and looks into the envelope again an pull out a piece of paper tightly wrapped inside more angels feathers and a fancy scrolled document. Rose stands up, “Jimmy what is the likes of this?” Laughing Jimmy reads the letter out loud, “Per review of your services you are encouraged to work for Mr. Kempfers of K & R Land Office at his new endeavors out west. Your service is no longer valid as Mrs. Kempfers will be returning to Europe an inquiry has been offered to relocate for both you and your husband included is the necessary means to relocate immediately to work in Illinois.” Please submit your requests tomorrow morning with Mr. Kempfers office at 9:05 sharp.” As Jimmy read out loud laughing both still dancing around the table Tobi and Robert joined in.

The tenants of the building look shocked as Rose, Jimmy and the boys dressed in finest all asked, “If there be a funeral?”. Jimmy only proudly states, “No this be official business of a high and important matter it be.” Upon arrival at the busy office they were greeted to sit in a long hallway with benches to sit and wait, shortly a neat and tidy man asked them to follow him through a maze of desks with scrolls of land surveys for the land claim lottery where finally they sat in a private office before a large oak desk. Someone will be with you shortly. Then two men entered the room each dressed finely one the man from the bar and the other a much stout man. The bar patron that Rose recognized spoke you, “You remember me lass, don’t you gave you that piece of paper well you don’t know me but you will soon enough.”

Jimmy, looked at Rose but he began speaking again. “You be Rose Shauntassey , your mother be Paige she was my aunt half-sister to my mum an aunt you worked for she observed you to see if you are really kin to us. Seems our family in limbo as well you be holding some inheritance up and such so tis the request it was assumed you be gone well your share was invested in America and your father well he’s making an issue in Ireland. So, here is the proposition your mum was ousted of the family due to well in the family way not married with you. But willing to give a portion of the investments in the west. So what do you say to all this you will be offered money, land and the starting costs, if you agree sign over a release forms.”

Rose knowing the truth of her history stood up turned around and began to walk out. Jimmy stood up to follow but she only closed the door on her husband and children. She turned around after locking the door, “You have some nerve flaunting my pedigree around as I know the reasons of my lineage the man so called my father we both know is not right just a dear man that looked after my mom after her mistreatment by her own kin. It is strange how you used her and blackmail to gain your fortune to cast her out but since you offer three things ‘” I request three things. I will take your offer, but know this the items must have no holdings against them free and clear. The land is to be a sizeable amount I do have heirs my boys and more importantly the money you offer must be five-fold of the offer on the desk I read before you came in!” Rose clinching her fists.

“Ah, you’re a bold to be making such requests.” The stout man stated. Rose glared at him, I knew you saw you when six you made my mother cry trying to force her to sign some papers yet my mother made her own will and before her death and left all to me. She told me this before she died ‘” the man you call my father oh, he wasn’t but sent me away to school when he became broke I got married. I know who my father is a Kempfers so don’t be holding my birth against me. I’m honorable just seeing for once you do the same as I understand you have no children in marriage a curse upon you as you throw away again your only heir.” John Kempfers temples flared but understood that unlike her mother a sweet and naive woman she had his staunch and toughness. He liked to had seen her grow up she would have been a real sprite of energy. He nodded, she signed it was done!

Upon returning home, Jimmy knew not to discuss the matter till Rose was ready to speak. He had heard through the door her address her father for the first time and knew how upset she was a first real time he heard her scream in fits of anger. She went along with the motions of cleaning and packing their belongings so curious with the money and all. Jimmy had to ask, Rose with the money we don’t need any of this we can get you a whole new set of belongings?”. Rose just nodded, “Jimmy there are three things one must understand don’t waste your resources, don’t throw out what you earned and more importantly don’t throw away what is important when you know what it is. My mom taught me that before she passed and I mean to keep it and the boys will know it too Mr. Hormel”, Rose answered Jimmy giving him a kiss.

Rose looks out across her porch it been near seven years on the homestead as Jimmy and the boys work the land. She realized how blessed her life among the chaos of childhood and the struggles to make a go out here. Her fist days were wild a flood, fire and run in with land jumpers that left Jimmy with a permanent limp from a gunshot. The scary event as claim jumpers came the second night as Jimmy lay in bed recovering that she shot a rifle for the first time missing the man by inches from his head. She chased them off, put away the rifle and started dinner only after before the evening to cry about it. Her Jimmy after hearing about it from the Robert and Tobi, called her his wild western rose. Rose turns around and picks up her youngest toddling along George and carries him back inside ‘”telling him, “My darling George never waste a thing all resources are important the ones you earn, the ones you plan and the ones you dream.”

The young boy cooing in her arms smiling, Rose smiling back knowing that the seed of adversity is only a trivial thing. The young child looks intently back she begins to hum as she puts away jars pickles and preserves. Showing him the fruits of her efforts. The daily common efforts are important things more than surviving but thriving as Roses do bloom in the remote of places even among the harshness of future endeavors even in the new land out west. In the corner Rose places a cracked crock pot that once held their meager beginnings back on the shelf with her pistol inside due to scaring off a coyote from the chickens. As young George plays at her feet pulling occasionally on her dress as tries so hard to walk. Thinking more determined then Robert or Tobi, “George Hormel you’re an eager one do you plan building on making a great dream too in the west?”