The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Memories of Mrs. Wenger

By Paula A. Kerns © 1986

Issue: October, 1986

Mrs. Wenger was probably seventy five years my senior in 1949. I was five years old; somewhat of a loner even back then. Mrs. Wenger lived two doors up and she used to sit on her front porch sofa quite often. This was a real sofa, heavy and black; not the porch furniture of today. I would walk up the four gigantic steps leading to her porch and sit beside her to talk. I remember very little of our conversations. But I do remember her telling me of her younger days and riding with her husband in a horse and buggy in Highwater. Some days I would find Mrs. Wenger inside. She always invited me in to sit and visit. She had a mantle filled with all sorts of treasures, none of which I remember specifically. I remember only looking up at them. I do remember the little house shaped wall hanging. It was probably plastic. It had a girl in one door and a boy in the second door. They were attached by some sort of pivot. When it was supposed to rain, one came out; when it was fair, the other was out. I didn't really care what the weather was going to be at age five. But I always checked the little house. It was fascinating.

Mrs. Wenger used to sew. It was probably mending. She had to use a wire needle threader because her eyesight was poor. Once in awhile, though, she asked me to thread her needle. I was pleased to help her. She always got into her change purse after I threaded the needle and gave me a penny. And always, I was off like a shot to the corner store to spend it. I always came back and told her what I bought. I hope I thanked her each time.

I remember the wrinkles on Mrs. Wenger's face, but especially I remember her hands. They had wrinkles too, and brown spots. The skin looked so thin and delicate that I worried and wondered at it. Her veins were prominent and I think I was amazed that the thin skin could contain them. But they must have been able hands, and were soft and velvety.

One time Mrs. Wenger gave me a mitt filled with powder and a small, crocheted, black and white purse. I still have both to this day. I never used them, but I kept them. I run across them from time to time in my treasures and remember Mrs. Wenger again.

That was almost thirty five years ago. I wonder if she knew she would make such a lasting impression on me; if she knew I would remember her forever. I hope I gave her as much joy then as my memories of her give me now. I hope I wasn't a pest. She did have a husband, but he is in the background of my mind. Sometime after I grew away from Mrs. Wenger, she and her husband celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

In my maturity, I have learned that old people often love youngsters and love having them around. Is it easier to face their own end having close knowledge that there are new beginnings such as I was at that time? I do not know, and I do not want to analyze my relationship with Mrs. Wenger. I just want to savor the memories.