The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive
Along the creek in New Jersey, a tributary of the Delaware River outside of Philadelphia, there are stories that demand to be told. In four separate stories which take place in the same location but during different time periods, the reader experiences the love, loss, fear, and heartbreaks of the residents of the Creek.
Spanning from the Revolutionary War to the present day, the characters must survive war, disease, the Great Depression, Vietnam, and much more. Some of them have no rest, and make their presence known forever.
COMING SOON IN PRINT!!!!
"FOUR STARS" --- B&N Comment
"This story follows one neighborhood over the course of centuries. The author does a great job describing the difficulties of life, and shows women as strong characters. I cried in some scenes, and laughed in others. This made me long for the times in the past when people were kind to each other, and would help each other when tragedy struck."
"Four Stars" - Smashwords Review
The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive
Background: 1918, WWI is just ending and Mrs. Patricia Owens is now a wealthy widow. She has been summoned to the attorney's office to finalize paperwork
Within a month, Patricia Owens received a telegram from her husband's attorney. Legal business. She wanted nothing of it. She was still in such a depressed state, that she felt like a ghost of her former self. For the sake of the children, she still rose out of bed in the morning, but there was no joy in life, not even by looking at their angelic faces. She new that her children were obedient and intelligent. Had she not been blessed with such good children, her life would have seemed completely hopeless. With the telegram in hand, she walked next door to her father-in-law.
He was sitting at the kitchen table drinking tea and reading his morning paper when he noticed Patricia had entered the room. This was the first time in a month that she left her house, she looked well, thin but well. "Come, dear. Sit down. It is good to see you finally up and about." Then he called to his wife, "Darling wife, would you please pour some tea for Patricia, she came for a visit." His wife came hurrying into the room. They wished her the best, but did not know how to help her.
Patricia handed him the telegram, "I received this just now. It says that Mr. Wilcox, Matthew's attorney wishes to speak with me. He has an appointment date there. Why would he need to speak with me? I know nothing of manly matters. Can you not handle this for me? Please?" She sounded desperate, and his heart ached for her.
After reading it, he stated, "I'm sure he wants to go over the will and estate. Perhaps he has papers for you to sign. As the widow, you are entitled to a certain portion, although I do know that Matthew set up trust funds for the children in the even of his demise. Don't you fret, my dear. I will escort you. The panic in the city seems to be dissipating over the illness. It seems that there are fewer cases being reported each day. Perhaps the worst is over and we have nothing to fear."
"Still, I do not wish to go to the city. Can you not just ask him to mail any such documents? I will sign whatever needs to be signed, and have done with it." He assured her that he would take care of it. He immediately telegrammed the attorney, but got an unexpected response. Understanding Mrs. Owens concerns about entering the city, the attorney agreed to postpone the meeting for no longer than sixty days.
By November, the end of the war was declared, and people were once again returning to the cities. It seemed as though the illness that plagued the planet retreated as quickly as it had appeared. She was finally ready to tackle the legal situation, although she did not completely understand it. That in itself made her nervous. She asked Mr. Owens to escort her to the city for the meeting with the attorney, Mr. Wilcox. This was the first time she was entering the city in months, and she intended to do so without the children. Although their retreat had been used as summer homes in the past, a makeshift school house was created for families like the Owens who had not yet returned to the city. The children might be healthy, but they would be educated and healthy. In her opinion, a mother's main concern should be the children, these legal matters were just a distraction.
The week before Thanksgiving, Mr. Owens and Patricia loaded up the carriage, and headed off to the city. There was a sense of relief, cheer, and energy in the atmosphere that was perpetuated by the war's end. People were hurrying to organize parties for their loved one's arrivals, and people were once again moving back to the city. They arrived at Mr. Wilcox's office, it was grand. She looked at the ornate mahogany desk, with matching wall trim, and Mr. Wilcox said, "Like that do you? That is a William Wayne, how you heard of him?" She hadn't. And she didn't really care. She wanted to get this done and over with, then return to her life.
He reached for her hand, "Mrs. Owens, it is such a pleasure to meet you. I have been your husband's attorney for quite some time, and he never failed to mention your beauty. I can see that he was not exaggerating." At this her ears perked up. She was a mother, and she knew when to become suspicious. He sounded just like a child who wanted a cookie before dinner. He then turned to her father-in-law. "Mr. Owens, how nice to see you again. I give you both my condolences on your loss. Mr. Owens was a special man. Intelligent, caring, and a forward thinker. The world lost a great soul that day." More flattery. Something was amiss. Patricia lacked the confidence that she could decipher his motives.
"Please, sir, I want to resolve these matters, and return to my family. Please explain the situation to me."
Mr. Wilcox cleared his throat, then began, "Well, I have compiled a report of your husband's investments, the various companies he owned, the trusts that have been enacted for not only yourself and children, but both sets of your parents. Although Mr. Owens owned and invested in many companies, the only one he oversaw directly was the Haines Brewery. He made a considerable sum on which you can all live, quite comfortably, for the rest of your lives. Your children will be able to attend the finest colleges, should they wish. Do you have any questions, so far?"
"I do, sir. Just how do these funds become available to us? Is there some sort of person in charge of the trusts, or do we come to you when we need to make withdrawals?" She was trying to think ahead. She already did not trust this man for some reason, and she had no intention of coming and begging him for her husband's hard earned savings.
Mr. Wilcox was a gray haired man, with wired rimmed glasses. His cheeks were fat, as was his nose. He looked professional, surrounded by all this grandeur in his office, yet, something about him exuded suspicion. Mr. Wilcox replied, "For that madame, your husband entrusted the President of The Girard National Bank, Mr. Phillips. All you need do is see or telegram him, and he will see that you have your funds. He can either send them to you directly, or send them to your accounts payable. I will arrange a meeting between the two of you, when you are available."
Patricia pondered. Then asked, "The trusts are made up of profits already accrued, correct? Basically, our savings. What of the results of future company profits or investments? Does the trust augment annually, or quarterly?"
Patricia was more shrewd than Wilcox had expected. He wondered if Matthew Owens underestimated his wife. "Any future profits become divided between two trusts. One goes into an account specifically for you, and the other specifically for the children.
"I see. Thank you, sir. Please, continue." Patricia had insisted and expected her father-in-law to attend to these matters with her. But now that she was here, she felt the presence and wit of Mrs. Emmitt within her.
Mr. Wilcox put down his papers, and moved his gaze from Patricia, to Mr. Owens, and back again. "As I said, Mr. Owens operated the Haines Brewery himself. For that reason, I have found a buyer that is willing to acquire it for a good price. I strongly recommend you accept the offer." He was twitching in his chair. The more this man spoke, the more Patricia disliked him, but she was still not sure why.
Patricia looked at Mr. Owens, who seemed to be approving of the venture. Something was amiss. She turned back to Wilcox, "You say you have an offer, for a company that is not yet for sale? How fortunate. Did you receive this offer in writing?" He nodded in the affirmative. "May I see it please?"
"Madame, this offer is written in a legal language, that is best left to the attorneys. Please ask any questions that you have." He was deflecting, hiding something.
Patricia asked, "Then can you please tell me just how many employees work at that brewery? And is there some sort of legal means to ensure that they retain sufficient income, should we sell?" Her husband rarely discussed business with her. She learned most of what she knew of his ventures from the local newspapers. She knew at one point, there were over 1,200 people working at the brewery, but that was years ago. She could not even speculate the accurate numbers now.
Wilcox was becoming annoyed with her questions, he wanted her signature on the documents, and wanted her business concluded. "Madame, the brewery has over 2,000 employees. The production was reduced because of the war. At full compliment, there are approximately 4,000 positions in that company. Legally, no. There is no way to ensure that someone who buys a company, will retain certain levels of income. Once the company is bought, the owner retains all rights to do with the property as he pleases." He then turned to Mr. Owens, "Sir, these are matters best left to men. Your son knew that, which is why he had me prepare the trusts to provide for your family. Please, talk some sense into this woman. This is a worthwhile venture. And it eliminates the necessity to hire someone to run the day to day operations. This sale relieves your family from any unnecessary burdens."
Mr. Owens then turned to her, "Perhaps he is right. It sounds like an interesting offer. Perhaps you should take the time to concern the matter further." Patricia was still staring straight at Mr. Wilcox, she was getting to the bottom of this.
At that, Patricia stood and demanded the paperwork, "All of it. I want the entire file, right now. Starting with this proposal of sale." She stood looking like a well dressed woman with stylish hat, but she spoke with the commanding voice of a man. Her hand was extended, and it was obvious that she would not retreat. She was coming to realize that her husband, was a great deal more powerful than she thought. And that power was now transferred to her.
Mr. Wilcox was stunned, as he gasped. He turned to Mr. Owens, "Dear God, are you going to let her make a mockery of your son's businesses? The empire that he build for your family, and future?"
Patricia did not for Mr. Owens to respond, "Apparently, sir, you did not hear me. Unhand that file, or I will travel straight to The Girard National Bank, and speaking with Mr. Phillips. I am sure that he can make payment for services rendered, while I secure representation through another law practice." Both of the men were stunned now. Never in all the years had Mr. Owens known her, had she become so bold, yet astute. Wilcox turned over the file, as Patricia began reading over the documents. He purposely put the sale papers on the bottom of the pile, hoping to hide it from her. It did not work.
"Mr. Wilcox, I see that the sale proposal is from a construction company. Is that correct? Why on earth would a construction company want to buy a brewery? We are one of the most productive in the country, is that not so?"
Wilcox was twitching in his seat again. His eyes cast down, as a child that was caught eating that cookie before dinner. "It's the location they want. It is prime real estate. They have no interest in the company itself." He finally admitted.
"I'm confused. They want to buy the most lucrative brewery in the country, for the property? and do what with it?"
There was no squirming out of this position. "They want to do what construction companies do. They want to knock it down and build. It is a prime location for new housing, there has been talk of expanding both the zoo and the museum. Doing either is going to displace families, who could benefit of new residential construction on the brewery lot." He had expected her to just sign the papers without question. He never anticipated having to explain this.
With great sarcasm, Patricia chastised the attorney, "Forgive me sir, but my womanly mind sometimes forces me into hysterics. Are you telling me that you are recommending that I sell a company that employs 4,000 people, half of which are returning from war and need to feed their families.... so that monkeys and artwork and have more room to spread out? Any "displaced families" as you call then would naturally be compensated when they sell their homes, but how do you suggest that we employ the 4,000? Will there be enough jobs created by the zoo and museum project to for them?" She was livid. She also knew that her husband would be proud. Still reading through the files, she was pacing the room in agitation now. Finally, she saw it. One word explained it all. She handed the file to her father-in-law, and stared directly into Wilcox's eyes. The anger raged within her, "Sir, it appears as though the proprietor of the construction company has your last name." Wilcox was the child who just broke the cookie jar and tried to hide it.
Looking at his desk, Wilcox fumbled with some papers and mumbled, "I think he is some distant, relative.... a cousin or some such."
Now her anger filled her petite body, her blood pressure rose, her body temperature was rising, "Am I to understand, that some construction company that just happens to be a Wilcox wants to eliminate the jobs of 4,000 of my employees, in addition to the countless delivery drivers, employees of the bottling company that supplies our glass, the retailers, the farmers that supply the barley to make the beer, and heaven knows who else? That must be 10,000 people. And don't forget the bankers and attorneys that are profiting-- they could be losing their jobs too!"
With that, Mr. Owens stood, speechless, and amazed at her tenacity. Patricia gathered the files in a pile and headed toward the door. "Expect a call not only from Mr. Phillips at the bank, but my new counsel, as I am sure there is much more that needs to be discussed here. I want every company my husband owns, and every investment audited. I suggest that you cooperate with my new counsel, otherwise that organization that licenses you," her sarcastic tone was becoming perfected, "What is that called again? The Bar? The Lawyer Association? You do understand if I cannot remember the proper name, being a woman and all--they will be contacting you! Good day, Mr. Wilcox."
As she headed out of the office door, father-in-law in tow, Wilcox followed her screaming, "You cannot take those files! Those are my property! That is work product!"
Without even turning around, she confidently walked down the hall, five steps in front of Mr. Owens, and said, "Report me!"
Wilcox was stunned, he fell into his chair in the empty office. His eyes glimpsed a headline of the newspaper regarding the suffrage movement for women's voting rights. He said to himself, "It's a whole new world." He went from heading a million dollar account, and brokering an easy real estate transaction which would make him even more wealthy, to being undermined by a woman.