Little A and her best friend Tammy find adventure though make believe...
Little A’s very best friend was Tamara or Tammy for short. She had a halo of white blonde hair and Daddy said that when they stood together, Tammy and Little A “looked just like day and night,” because Tammy’s hair was so blonde, like sunshine, and Little A’s hair was so dark, like the night time. Tammy often wore dresses with lots of ruffles at the bottom with white frilly socks and black patent leather shoes which fastened with a button on the side. Little A always secretly wanted to wear ruffled dresses like Tammy, but was happy with the beautiful cotton dresses and pinafores her Mama made for her.
Tammy lived in a pretty stone cottage near the campus with her mother and father and her three little sisters: Sarah Louise, Mollie and Jill. Mama used to say that “those darling little sisters look like a set of Russian dolls on account of their rosy red cheeks.”
Tammy and Little A loved to play with their dolls upstairs in Tammy’s bedroom in the attic of the little stone cottage. The roof was sloped, because it was under the eaves. Tammy had a great big old fashioned trundle bed. Now, I bet you’ve never heard of one of those before because people don’t tend to use them these days. But a long time ago, when people built and lived in small log cabins with the whole family in just one room, they might have had a trundle bed in one corner. It was a big, high bed for a mama and daddy to sleep in and underneath it was a little child’s bed on wheels which could be pulled out at night. When it wasn’t being used during the day, the trundle bed could be easily pushed back underneath the big bed out of the way.
Tammy and Little A played on her trundle bed and made believe that it was a covered wagon, as Ma (Little A) and Pa (Tammy) sat on the end of the big bed’s deep feather mattress with their knees hitched up on the wooden frame, holding the horses’ reins. All their dolls were piled up behind them under a blanket – just like a real covered wagon of long ago, when the early pioneers headed West across the great American prairies. Ma and Pa had dangerous encounters with wild coyotes around their camp fires under the stars, as they too went across the prairies on their way to California in search of gold.
“What’s that Ma?” whispered Pa, as Little A threw another log on the camp fire.
Ma listened. She couldn’t hear anything except the crackle of the fire and the breathing of the horses.
“Why, it ain’t nothin’ but an ol’ jack rabbit; nothin’ to be a-feared of!”
“Are ya sure?” asked Pa, as he paced back and forth. “I knowed I heered a sound a-comin’ through them thar trees; a terrible howlin’: sounded jes like a coyote to me!”
“Look out!” cried Ma. “You’re right – there it is, a-comin’ straight fer us! Why, it’s a whole pack of ‘em. Quick — shoo ‘em away before they gits them horses!”
Ma and Pa leapt up from their camp fire in the middle of the bedroom floor, waving their arms and making such a hullabaloo that the pack of ten-strong wild coyotes ran away with their tails between their legs.
“That showed ‘em!”
Once or twice Ma and Pa nearly got robbed by Billy the Kid but managed to fight him off with their bare fists! Of course, Pa had to go find the sheriff and his posse for help, as Ma bravely tied The Kid to a tree single handed and stayed with the covered wagon, the team of horses and the dolls (who were very frightened indeed).
Their favourite game was called Old Ladies, when they had a tea party with their dolls. Tammy and Little A dressed up as ‘old ladies’ in various beads and gloves, hats, handbags, high heels and dresses, as they laid a bedspread on the floor with a selection of old china cups and plates that had once belonged to Tammy’s mother. They made their voices extra high-pitched and croaky – just as Little A imagined that all old ladies spoke:
“My, what a nice tea party,” said the first Old Lady.
“Yes ‘em, it surely is. Would you care for a slice of my fine Angel Food cake?” asked the second Old Lady.
“Why, jes a finger. Thank you kindly;” and so on for many a happy hour.
Little A was particularly fond of wearing an old fringed shawl which served as a wrap for Ma on the covered wagon — for it got mighty chilly at night, sleeping out under the stars on the great prairies.
On a dressing table under the small attic window stood Tammy’s most prized possession — after her dolls of course; a large basket, made not of twigs and sticks, but of green and pink peppermint candy. Tammy would take it down carefully from the little table and climb up onto the big trundle bed, where she and Little A sat with the basket on their laps as they took turns to lick the delicious candy. They never knew where the candy basket came from or why it was in Tammy’s room, but there it was… and there they were; eager to eat the precious peppermint. They kept it a secret from Tammy’s mama in case she decided to take the basket away (for we all know that too much candy is bad for our teeth). It stayed on the little dressing table under the window for a long, long time.