Posted in Cambridge's, Serials, Writing Notes

Cambridge’s: Kidnapping A Wedding

Winston Jr. stopped his Father. “Wait a minute, what do you mean, you’ve never ‘Not’ planned a Wedding before?” Winston laughed. “You haven’t heard that story?”

“We were to plan a Wedding, your Mother, always a planner, intended to take six months to plan it. We hadn’t counted on two things, your cousin Les, and the one time he wasn’t being a hypochondriac.”

“Les visited from America every year. Each time, it seemed that he would contract some wild illness that turned out to be a combination of allergies and jet lag. So, when his eyes were puffy, and he couldn’t stop yawning at the airport, I shrugged it off. It turned out to be a germ that I still can’t pronounce. He had received it after sitting beside someone returning home to Manchester.”

“As a result, Les, myself, and half of my family were quarantined for six months. Ashley was angry, not at me or Les, although he still isn’t her favorite person, but at the situation. She was determined that if she had to endure this misery for that long, it would at least not alter our plans. Keep in mind, neither one of us could stand up, much less plan a Wedding.”

“What did you do, let Gran and Grandmother plan it?” Winston Sr. laughed at his son’s naivety. “Son, the one thing that you never do, is to exclude the Bride from her own Wedding, believe me I know. Through sheer force of will, your Mother went against doctor’s orders and attempted to plan it from her bedside.”

“As a result, she got worse. Her fever, which this disease feeds off of, went dangerously high. That’s why the Doctor specifically warned against activity. After about two excruciating days, her fever broke. I knew that something had to be done, but she had been adamant that she would not be married in a hospital. I was a bundle of emotions. I was intensely ill, worried for her safety, angry at her for pushing herself, and anxious to get this all behind us.”

“I’m telling you that to make my crazy scheme seem, more. more defensible.” “What did you do?” “Well, I believe your Mother called it grand larceny and kidnapping, though in fairness I had good intentions. It was too occur about midnight, before anyone could realize that we were gone. My friends Vincent and Andrew dressed as nurses and wheeled our beds to the lift. Vincent’s uncle was Doctor Hammonds, so he ‘borrowed’ an ambulance.”

Just then, Winson’s wife Ashley overheard the topic of the two Cambridge men’s conversation. “I was furious when I woke up. Your father had absconded with two quarantined patients, stolen an ambulance, and kidnapped a Pastor.” “I hadn’t gotten to that part yet, although I still contend that he went willingly. He just didn’t admit it to us that until our first anniversary.”

Ashley laughed and kissed her husband. “Your Dad’s two ignorant, lovable, well-meaning friends barged into the Church. They told Pastor Stillwell what was going on, and that they were there to make sure he came to the Wedding. They said he walked to the car laughing as he went. He made a late night phone call to secure a license for his two poor, ill patients.”

“Winston continued the story. “You remember the park that she turned me down in? It always bothered me that the park would be remembered for my stupidity. So, I thought at least let it be remembered for good stupidity.”

“Vincent positioned our beds under the tree, laid a Wedding dress and a tuxedo on the side of each of our beds, and woke us up. I hurriedly explained to your Mother what I had concocted, and she was …” “I was furious, and then, I laughed. It was so typical of your father. This was the man who would jump off a motorcycle to impress me on our honeymoon. Pastor Stillwell quickly married us, fighting back hilarity the entire time.”

“Later, after the illness, we had a regular Wedding that your Mother planned. I just didn’t want her to spend six more months single because of a taxi from the airport. I secured the date for our anniversary, that was the important thing. She wanted to be married on the anniversary of her Grandfather’s birthday. Since he couldn’t see her Married, she wanted a Wedding connection to him.  It was important to her, so it was worth the risk.”

Winston Jr. laughed. “I get what you’re saying. Do my best to make the business a success, but not at the expense of what’s important. It’s one thing to risk your fortune, and your neck, for the ones you love. That’s worth it, but it’s quite another to do it for a few more dollars in an account. What was that business about jumping off a motorcycle?”

Ashley cleared her throat. “That’s a topic for another day, and another visit to Cambridge’s. The piece that impaled your Father’s kidney now resides on the wall. We spent a lot of that first year in hospitals, but it didn’t matter.  We found something in each other that made every adventure romantic, even if we were coughing and sneezing at the time.  ”

Thus concludes this first edition of the story of Cambridge’s. We hoped you enjoyed meeting part of the family, and look forward to sharing more adventures of Cambridge’s and their proprietors.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s:Gray Hair And Dentures

Your Mother sat me down and explained two things.  “First, I love you, you crazy, mixed up man.  Second, I wasn’t wanting you to propose out of fear that you’d lose me.  I just wanted to know that your plans for us involved gray hair and dentures.”

“I’m sorry for waiting so long to say what was in my heart.  My plans for us have included, as you say, gray hair and dentures since the day I met you.  I was just waiting for the right time, and I wanted to ask the right way.”

A month later, I found the right way.  I had a hat box delivered to her at college.  It contained a hat, but a very special hat.  It was actually a flower arrangement made out of a hat.  It was a black hat covered in an artificial flower that grows in America, known as black-eyed-susans.

If you remember, your Mother told me once that black eyes were better than roses, I never forgot it.  In it, was not a ring, but a riddle. It read, “When is a hand to heavy to move?  When is a face covered with sparkles?”  Lastly, the box contained a map.  It lead her home to her clock, which was turned off.

When she looked at the face of it, she saw a diamond ring.  A much less expensive one than the three I had once ask her with, but it was ours.  The door of the kitchen opened, I took the ring from the clock, and got on one knee.  “When is a hand to heavy to move?  When it is weighted down.  When is a face filled with sparkles?”  I was about to say, “When it’s covered in diamonds.”

She interrupted to say, “When it’s filled with happy tears.”  I softly ask her if she would be my Bride, and she whispered yes just as softly.  Our Grandmothers clapped from the kitchen, as our Mothers burst through the door.  I thought the hardest part was over, but I had never not planned a Wedding before!

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Cambridge’s: Three Rings And A No

Hagar Anthony was your Mother’s old boyfriend as a teenager. His Father was in the service. They had moved away, and now he was back. Hagar had skipped college and went into business for himself. He was fairly well to do, having invented some piece of financial software the banks were using.

He made no secret about his intentions. He was here to win her back. She smiled at him the afternoon he told us that, we were at a Church picnic. “What makes you think you can?” He nodded in my direction. “He isn’t putting up much of a fight now is he?”

I was about to respond the wrong way when our Pastor intervened. “Hagar, Mrs. Carstairs needs help with the kid’s baskets. Would you mind?” “Not at all.” He smiled and walked off. I thought it was safe, until our Pastor suggested that Ashley help her with setting up the children’s games also.

After they were out of earshot, he looked at me. “Winston, either you very carefully, make your intentions known, or she will be Mrs. Anthony within three months.” He said some other things, but that was all that I heard.  I panicked, what I did I don’t advise, but I did it.

I left the picnic without saying goodbye. I headed straight for your Grandmother Cambridge. From there, we went to my Uncle Pierce, the local jeweler. I borrowed three engagement rings from my Uncle, the most expensive ones he had. Your Grandmothers on each side were equals in persuasiveness.

When I came back, the picnic was ending. Hagar was getting ready to take Ashley home. From a distance, I could see from her actions that she was quite angry with me.  I was fine as long as I thought it was a matter of temper.  It was when I realized that she was hurt that I lost it.

I took her in my arms and hugged her tightly.  “Sweetheart, I’m sorry, I expected you to be angry, but I never meant to hurt you.  Walk with me, please?”  Reluctantly, very reluctantly, she took my hand and we walked to that old tree in the park.  I knelt down right there and held out my Uncle’s best jewelry.

“All three of these rings cost more than I have ever made, but I’ll gladly figure out how to cover the cost.  I realized today that, the cost of losing you, is the only thing that I couldn’t afford.  Would you marry me?”  I thought that surely that would wrap it up nicely.  She smiled, kissed me, said “No”, and walked towards my car holding my hand.

I followed, stunned, confused, and filled with questions.  Apparently I was the only one that failed to understand what just happened.  Hagar sighed, waived, and drove off.  Our Pastor laughed, shook his head, and did the same.  Finally I heard her say, “Get in”, and we drove off.

When we got to her place, she kissed me, and said goodnight.  I sat there in the dark by myself for half an hour.  Finally, I got out, knocked, and waited for her to come to the door.  “Yes?”  She said, as if she was surprised to see me.  I walked in, sat down on the couch, looked at her, and steadied myself.  “What just happened?” I asked, desperately afraid of the answer.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: Yes I Care

Things progressed nicely after that, I was smitten with your Mother, and now she was smitten with me. I was care free in those days, thinking I had all the time in the world. We were falling in love, but now that we were dating, I wasn’t in any hurry. We were both in college, and we were both very busy.

Finally, a few months in to our courtship, my friend asked me two questions. “What are you waiting for?” The second was, “Will she still be there when you’re ready?” That friend was our, then young, Pastor R.L. Stillwell.

I had known him since childhood, and watched with shock, then admiration, and respect as he overcame his past. He was a little older than I was. His name was Roger Lawrence, but in his early teens they said it meant Reckless and Loud.

He was pretty wild. R.L. was already involved in some dangerous things, and had been for some time. This was routine for him, until he was seventeen. His parents were struggling themselves, and they didn’t seem overly concerned. Finally, one Monday at school, his Grandmother showed up. She had driven all night to see him. She came to his class and asked the teacher to allow him to leave.

We expected that he was in trouble again, that she was going to give him a good lecture. I figured we would hear about it the next day. He came to school the next day, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He seemed different. He was quiet, but at the same time, he looked like he was filled with an anger that was trying to get out.

R.L. was that way all week long. I didn’t see him on Saturday, but then on Sunday, his Grandmother walked in our Church. R.L. followed, although he looked uncomfortable. Service progressed normally, until the Pastor began his Message. The title was “Yes I Care”. At it’s conclusion, R.L. walked to the Altar.

I was stunned, but I hadn’t know what had happened with his Grandmother. She had driven all night as I said, but not to argue with him. She took him to the best restaurant in town, and ordered his favorite meal. They had all his favorites, even two desserts.

Then she spoke to him, words first, and then tears followed. “I was praying for you last night, I always do. I know that your parents are battling, I know the problems that you have. I know you feel like you’re an afterthought, that no one cares about you, but I do. If I haven’t shown you as I should, then I’m sorry.” He hugged her, and tried to console her.

On the way home, she asked if he would come to Church with her that Sunday. He didn’t want to, but agreed. When the Pastor gave his title, he asked her if she had said something to him, she hadn’t. He was amazed that a God, that he didn’t even believe in, was telling him that he cared. Even when he felt others didn’t care, so R.L. thought he would give it a try.

Over the next few years, he completely changed, and he was now the Pastor of that Church. When I had gotten serious about Church, he was there to help me. Now, we were close, and R.L. realized that your Mother and I were on a different time table.

He warned me that if I didn’t catch up to her soon, I would face some strong competition. I listened, but drug my feet. That was when Hagar Anthony thought he could pick up the pace where I was lagging behind. He had decided that your future Mother would make him the perfect bride. I had to convince her that he was wrong.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: Black Eyes Are Better Than Roses

Ashley didn’t see what happened next. She was dazed from the door, plus the somewhat overly hefty lady landing on top of her. When she came too, Winston was sprinkling water in her face. It took her a minute to realize that what she was seeing was accurate. Winston had two black eyes.
“What happened?” “Nothing much, you ok?” She heard a voice from behind her. “Nothing much indeed! Ashley looked to see the woman that landed on her standing over her.
“Your young man is a hero. Two young, arrogant men had decided they were going to rob us. They grabbed me, threw me out the front door. Hit my husband, and were running for the door. Your gentlemen tried to stop them. He wasn’t successful, but he slowed them down until the police came. They picked them up a few meters away.”
“This is Mavis Lane. Her and her husband Neal own this cafe.” It was instinct, Ashley put her hand on his cheek. “Are you ok?” He smiled. “Except for not figuring out how to have a date that doesn’t result in repairs of some kind, I’m ok.” She laughed.
The rest of the night was uneventful. They had a good meal, and he walked her to her car. “I had a good time tonight.” She smiled back. “I did too, although, are you sure it was worth your injuries?”
He smiled back. “Yes I’m sure. I just feel bad that I couldn’t have fixed a proper date for you, candy, flowers, etc. She laughed. “In some cases, black eyes are better than roses.” A kiss later, they said good night.

Check back in June for the next installment of Cambridge’s.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: A Hospital Conversation

Ashley loved her Mother and Grandmother, so she agreed to spend some time with this “weird young man.” She talked with him over supper at her house. She found that he was less irritating than she first thought. When dessert arrived, they were actually laughing. Ashley wasn’t convinced yet, but agreed to see him the next afternoon, “for them”, she told herself.

Winston was working a half day at the store, so she would meet him there that afternoon. The problem was that her arrival coincided with the arrival of a new shipment of merchandise. When she walked in, Chester informed her that Winston was in the back. “I’ll wait by the front window, thanks.”

She looked at her watch, this was taking forever, it had been ten minutes. “I’ll pop back there and reschedule with him.” When she went back, there was no one in view, the room was a little dark. Once her eyes adjusted, she noticed two barn like doors. The old shop had a unique system of pulleys, to enable one man to unload heavy merchandise.

Winston had connected the chain to the door mechanism. When the heavy object arrived at a certain point, the pulley would open the door. Winston would then lock the chain, push the item off the lift, and scoot it in the store room. Whoever had invented this system, had never taken into account what would happen if the doors opened before the chain was locked. Winston found this out the hard way.

Suddenly, the doors came open, jarring the chain, and knocking the refrigerator off the lift. The refrigerator fell off the dock and was heading right for him. Ashley screamed when she saw what was happening. Winston was able to escape the offending object, but just barely. In the process, he cut his face and hand on the pulley chain.

Ashley took him to the hospital to get bandaged up. She felt horrible. A lot of men would have played for sympathy. Instead, Winston made her feel better about it. He joked with her, “If I hadn’t been late, it wouldn’t have happened. It’s a lesson in punctuality that’s all.”

After the visit, they walked to a near by place to eat. They thought the worst was over, until the woman coming out of the door knocked Ashley down. The next few minutes were a blur.

Find our why, “Black Eyes Are Better Than Roses”, in the next installment of Cambridge’s.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: It Trumps Two Sacks Of Wheat

Winston remembered being heartbroken when he and his friend Chester arrived at the McCalister house. The initial announcement of the gift to her Grandmother was welcomed, but as they were carrying it up the steps, the strap tore. The clock went backwards, placing a huge hole in the back of the clock.

“That is when my son, I learned the amazing spirit of your Grandmother and Great Grandmother.  They could see that I was really disappointed.  Your Mother wasn’t home yet, so they went to work.  The two of them fixed the clock in a few minutes with a small cloth glued to the outside of the back of it.  It took a little longer to repair me.”

“They pumped me with tea and cookies, and talked about how wonderful the gift was.  ‘Ashley is sure to love it.'” Winston could see that day as clearly as crystal.  What he didn’t learn until some time after the Wedding was what happened next.

Ashley didn’t care for the expensive gift so much as the three of them had hoped.  “Mother, indeed, it’s presumptuous for a man that I’ve never spent ten minutes with to buy me an expensive gift.”  Her Mother stifled a laugh.  “Your Father brought my Father two bags of flour, you remember Granddad was a farmer, and asked if he could date me.   That clock, well, it trumps two sacks of wheat! Then I was informed we were going out.  It wasn’t presumptuous, it was nervousness.”

Now Grandmother laughed, “Ashley dear, Men are talkative, strong, and courageous until a pretty head turns them.  You turned young Mr. Cambridge in your direction, don’t expect him to know how to address you at first.  You have to give him time.”

“He will learn, but you, like every woman before you, has to be patient with them.  He’ll wait for you, you must wait for him.  You see, God intended it this way, love isn’t only about romance, it’s about instruction.  You spend the rest of your lives learning about the person you love.”

“Grandmother, Mother, you act like I’m going to marry this stranger.  I do not intend to marry anyone until I’m at least 25!”  They were married the next spring, and were still madly in love.  Their courtship though was very rocky, especially the next 72 hours after the clock arrived.

It’s not often that the woman you intend to marry backs over you with a refrigerator.  Find out how and why in our next installment of Cambridge’s.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: The Olsen Clock

Winston Sr. was transported mentally all those years as he narrated to his son. “This was old Wilson’s store when I was young.  He had good merchandise, but nothing like we have been blessed with, save one item.”

“There was one piece that was the most exciting thing in the store.  I loved it, you might say, it helped point me in the right direction, for all the wrong reasons”  Winston hadn’t heard all this story before, but he knew what the item was.  “The Olsen Clock.”

His Father smiled.  He saw her outside across the way.  She was helping her Grandmother with shopping.  Ashley McCalister was home from college visiting.  Winston worked for Kent Wilson, and knew that Ashley would be in the store any minute.  He looked at the clock.

Winston was scheduled to leave early to go on a trip with his friends.  Kent was encouraging him to go on and have a good time.  Mr. Wilson stopped when he saw the look on Winston’s face.  It was during that visit that Ashley and her Grandmother remarked how beautiful the old clock was.

It was an heirloom from the early 1900s, that had seen better days.  It had an oak cabinet, sterling silver casing. It was made with copper gears, and had a jeweled face.  Time had weathered it, and conditions had damaged it.  Even though, it was in far less condition than it should have been, it was a treasure.

Kent had bought it as the talking piece of his shop, and it had served it’s purpose well for years.  A fleeting comment from Ashley would alter both their lives.  “Grandmother, when I marry, I want to buy this clock to remind us how precious time is.  I want to use it to cherish every moment of my family’s life together.”

Her Grandmother Linda smiled.  “Time is precious, when it’s used to treasure loved ones.”  Neither one of them paid any attention to the young clerk sweeping a clean floor.  They made their purchases and left.  He called his friends, cancelled his trip, and made an agreement with Mr. Wilson to use the money to purchase the Olsen Clock.

Find out what happens next in the upcoming installment of Cambridge’s next month.

Posted in Cambridge's, Serials

Cambridge’s: An Emporium?

“Imagine it, an emporium? With all kinds of items as far as the eye can see. Cambridge’s will be the most important store in all of England.” Winston Jr. was absolutely beaming with excitement. His Father smiled at him. He let his son enjoy the adventure of his imagination for a few minutes, then sat him down.

“Son, you have a bright and an exciting future ahead. I don’t doubt that you could make this the single most vital merchant location in all of Europe. If you choose to do that, I’ll back you one hundred and twenty percent. Before you do though, I’d like you to look around.”

Winston Jr. did so with an open heart. He knew his Father had something to teach him, and even if it wasn’t what he wanted to learn, he trusted him. “Son, do you see all of the things that we carry here? Is there another store in our community?

How many years have we been in business? I submit that, on a much smaller scale than you imagined, we are an emporium. We have everything from Mr. Clark’s foot pillows to Mrs. Carol’s pinching shears.” His son nodded his head, but still had a look of uncertainty on his face.

“When I opened this store, it was to woo your Mother, not to make money. At this cash register, the Doctor delivered you because we were snowed in, and you got in a hurry.” He didn’t say it but Winston Jr. was always in a hurry, it came with the eagerness of youth.

“That happened on a Tuesday at 12:05. I opened this store on a Monday at 11:30. Your sister Sophia, was born on a Wednesday at 7:00. I could also give you the times of Nicholas, Katrina, and Miles.

This store is not only filled with every item this town could need. It’s filled with memories, with laughter, with life. It has in it’s fibers a love for the past, an excitement for the present, and a hope for the
Winston was on his feet, the excitement of wisdom was pumping through his older joints. “It’s not only our family that has invested here. Your girl’s parents met in the gardening section. The Mayor of our little hamlet was convinced to run in the produce section. This place is gleaming with the history of living, breathing people.

None of them have made us millionaires, but they have made a difference in our lives, and they’ve blessed us to make a difference in others.” “As I say, you could very well make this bigger than Harrods, but before you do, think of this. I always say, ‘Nothing ever happens at 4:00.’ Why do you think I do that?”

With that, Winston left his son standing and headed for the car. They sat silently as they began the short journey from town to home. The younger Winston was struggling with this information. He still didn’t completely understand. “Why could you do one and not do the other?”

“Oh you could, without question, I chose not to for one reason. All of that time, all of that energy to build an empire. I had to make the choice too, that’s where I got the phrase ‘Nothing ever happens at 4:00.’ I looked ahead in time, and saw my face fifty years in the future. I saw two versions of it.”

“What were they?” Winston smiled, he had his attention. “One was wearing a thousand dollar suit. I was so important that the most powerful business men were at my elbows. Everything sparkled, including my complexion. I was happy, I was rich, I even had halfway decent relationships with my family.”

“I almost chose that path, until I looked at the empire I had built. It was a galleria of merchandise, it made only one thing, money to buy more merchandise. It would go on after my death, and after the death of my next two successors. “

“You see, I remember the names of businessmen that everyone else has forgotten. Americans watch the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade every year without knowing something. They watch without realizing that the letters R.H. were in front of Macy before the parade followed it.

He hadn’t needed my help to turn a store into an empire. Neither had those famous men who came before him, and neither would those who came after. If the business empire was going to be built anyway, why waste my energy building it?”

“That’s when I saw the other version of my face. I was economically successful with a good business. Our store supplied the entire town. More importantly, we were friends with our neighbors. We were truly, and not in lip service only, involved in our Church.”

“I may not have had the ear of tycoons, but the most important men in our town asked for my advice. They did so, not only in business, but in conditions of the heart, life adventures, and in mattes of the soul.”

“Instead of a decent relationship with my family, we were completely in love with one another. Every member of our immediate family actually liked the others. We would have arguments, face disagreement, even snap at times. When the day ended though, we would love each other.”

They got out of the car and made their way up the snowy walkway. Winston Jr. asked his Father, “When did you make your decision?” Winston smiled, stopping briefly on the stoop. “When I was 21, underneath the Olsen Clock at 3:59pm on a Monday afternoon.”