Gratitude Thursday

A Short Story Written By: Holly L. Brandt

It was a hot summer day in the small town of Lake Mills, Iowa and society was beginning to bounce back from the Great Depression. The town was nothing more than a crossing where North Lake St. intersected with Old State Rt. 971. Marshall’s Hotel & Restaurant was a well-known family owned business, established in 1892. A post office occupied the corner directly across from Marshall’s and next door to that was Ernie’s Service Station, a garage where the townspeople took their cars for repairs & gasoline. Then, there was Cooper’s Grocery & Farmers Market directly across the street from the gas station, also family owned by Dick Cooper and his wife, Beverly. Such a swell couple.

Then, there was eight year old Thomas Anderson on his way home from fishing at the lake all afternoon and decided to stop for an ice cream break at Marshall’s. He left his fishing pole leaning against the wall outside the entrance, then he went inside and sat at the only open table by himself. It was lunchtime and the restaurant was crowding with hungry patrons flowing through the door waiting for a vacant seat. A waitress named Elisabeth approached the table and sat a glass of ice water in front of him. “Can I help you?” She asks, wearing a black & white uniform dress that went down to her middle knee’s, her waist length dark hair was twisted up in a bun. She stood at the table with a pen & tablet and was more than ready to write down his order.

“How much is an ice cream sundae, mam?” The little boy asks the waitress, sitting at the table and sipping his ice water.

“Fifty cents” the waitress replied quickly. Then he pulled his hand out from his pocket to count the coins he had in his hand.

“Well, then how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” He asks, and by then, the impatient waitress was seemingly annoyed with the boy.

“Thirty-five cents” she replied, in a brusque manner. He recounts his coins one last time.

“I’ll just have a plain dish of ice cream, please. The annoyed waitress walks away for a moment, then returns with the dish of ice cream. She leaves the bill on the table and walks away. When the little boy was finished, he took the bill, paid the cashier and walked off. When the waitress returned back to clean the table, her eyes filled with tears as she found two nickels and five pennies sitting next to the empty dish. You see, he needed enough money to leave her a tip, and that’s why he didn’t order the sundae.

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